To the point week of 8-12-10

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SCHOOL IS IN SESSION beginning tomorrow (Friday), and as our children end their summer vacations and head back to the classroom; there are things that we all need to keep in mind.

– On page 16 of today’s edition you will find a map and article concerning the new ways that parents and others will be able to drop off students at the beginning of the day and pick them up in the afternoon.

This plan has been carefully thought out, and now involves quite a bit of time and money being invested, all in the name of trying to keep kids safe. I can imagine that the beginning and end of each day are very stressful for school administrators, particularly as the school year gets underway.

Little Johnny gets out of the car and runs towards the front door of the school, all excited about the new year. He doesn’t see the school bus that’s pulling in or the other parents dropping off their children – and we have tragedy.

Or Little Susie is hurriedly trying to get off the bus when she drops her pencil and it rolls under the bus. She crawls under to retrieve it, but the driver never saw that – and we have tragedy.

Or teenager Bert is excited to drive to school for the first time and he’s a little unsure of where he’s supposed to pull in and park, and there’s a line of cars behind him, honking their horns and waving their arms, so he makes a decision to turn quickly in front of oncoming traffic – and we have tragedy.

We don’t like to think about these things, but school officials are forced to, and that’s what led them to design the traffic area like they have. Buses are now completely away from private vehicles; all parents are going in one entrance and out one exit; special education student buses have their own drop off area; and students have a new parking lot away from the bus lanes.

If everyone understands their place, it should all work well and everyone will be more safe.

But that’s a big “If”.

Because, you see, we live in a society, not just here but everywhere, where people tend to feel that they are the exception to the rule. There are people who can justify anything when it suits their own personal needs; and they get upset when they are brought to task because of it.

After all, if the school principal or the police officer would just listen for a minute, they would understand that you are running late and you are busy and have dozens of things to get done; and you just don’t have the time to sit in that line in front of the school.

Your situation is different, yours is special. Surely we all understand that we should allow you to do whatever you want to, while everyone else follows the rules.

Anyone who has ever been on or around Dupraz Lane or Pike Street at the end of the school day in previous years has seen the line of vehicles, sometimes more than a block long, waiting to pick up their child at the end of the day.

Now combine all those cars with students who are walking home; athletes who are running to a store to grab some food before practice; new drivers; and general traffic that now sees an increase in semi trucks and other commercial vehicles – and we have the potential for tragedy.

So, tomorrow, when you bring your child to school, and everyday thereafter, please, Please, PLEASE follow the directions that school officials have laid out. I know you’re busy and I know you’re late and I know you have a good reason for not following the rules; but follow them anyway.

– This is also the time that we each need to thank the Switzerland County School Endowment Corporation for saving each of us some money.

The endowment corporation has the task of taking funds from the revenue sharing agreement between the county and Belterra and then making grants and gifts to the schools as needed.

A couple of the biggest grants that you may or may not ever see are that the endowment pays the debt service for the schools on our property taxes; and it also pays the book rental fees for all students in the corporation.

The debt service is the portion of the school levy on your property taxes each year that goes to pay debt that the school corporation has on school buildings. Build a new school, and the money is borrowed from a source, and then each year each of us is taxed a portion of our property taxes to pay that debt back.

When the endowment pays that instead, every person who owns property and pays property taxes benefits. Less taxes means more money in your pocket, and that’s a good thing.

The second is the paying of book rental fees for all students. As a parent, we can all remember going to the school and paying book rental fees. Each grade level had its own fee; and high school fees where based on what classes the student was taking.

Those fees happen because schools have to buy new books, and if you have a student in college, you know that books are expensive. Most schools recoup that expense by charging a portion of the book’s price (usually one-fifth each year for five years) as a rental fee. Use the book for five years, and it’s paid for just in time to buy new books in that area and start all over again.

When the endowment corporation pays those fees instead, that means that it is putting money in your pocket that you would have to pay.

As the school year starts, if you see endowment members Mark Lohide, Tom Scott, K.C. Banta, Tom Conroy, and Virgil McKay take a minute to say thank you for saving you some money during these difficult economic times.

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I end today with a personal note: as the school year begins the community of Versailles and South Ripley Schools are dealing with the tragic loss of senior Tanner Tucker in an auto accident.

My family has known the Tucker family for several years from being at the Southeastern Baptist Youth Camp together; as well as watching Tanner and his brothers participate in sports for the Raiders.

It is a tragedy that we can barely grasp; but the prayers of this community should go out to the Tucker family and to the Versailles community. We have suffered such losses in past years; and we continue pray that no community has to go through such a difficult time in the coming weeks and months.

Tanner Tucker was an outstanding young man, and he will be missed by his family and his school and his community.

I offer our condolences.