It’s Time For School Board To Do What’s Best For Kids
Decatur Public Schools’ school board continues to move forward with their B.O.L.D. plans for making our schools “look” more attractive. However, it appears they have some implementation and execution issues that were never addressed or researched. If you have a chid at SDMS, you know exactly what I mean.
My heart aches for the SDMS administration and staff who inherited 950+ middle school students in what had to be a disaster waiting to happen, and it has been just that, a disaster. Scheduling, fights, discipline issues, spacing issues and readiness issues permeate the educational environment. In addition, the school board seems to assume no responsibility for their decisions and puts the superintendent “out front” to present the disclaimers, excuses and rationales. One wonders who will take the “fall” when the smoke clears. It won’t be the board.
How sad that it appears the board cannot own up to what is really going on in our community and stop trying to hide the fact that we have poverty, racial disturbance, behavior issues, curriculum issues and classroom management issues. The fact that the board opened schools this year with 66 teaching vacancies should give us some indication of their efforts to continue to push the self-proclaimed concept of being a “destination” district without facing reality. How many “guest teachers” are working with your children?
It appears Eisenhower and MacArthur have discipline and fight issues daily, but the media seems to protect the board’s destination concept and not report the truth. How sad the board cannot own the issues, address the issues and slow down on their B.O.L.D. plans. Until the real issues are addressed we have no idea what other B.O.L.D. execution issues will develop to put kids, teachers, and staff’s safety in question. The board should be addressing student achievement, the real image of the district and not the curb appeal, bricks and mortar image. It’s time to do what is best for kids, stop the “image” crisis and earn the right to be called a “destination” district.
B.A. Buttz Decatur
Cannabis-Related Businesses In The City Of Decatur: Reasons The City Council Should Not Opt-Out
Personally, I was opposed to the state legalizing adult-use cannabis. Combined with smoking, alcohol, and gambling, we are permitting products that are addicting and have significant health and safety consequences. However, adult-use cannabis will be legal in the state of Illinois and the city council has both the responsibility and opportunity to consider how to regulate adult-use cannabis businesses to maximize their positive impacts (increased tax revenues) while minimizing negative ones (restrictions on the number of dispensaries and appropriate zoning).
Below are three reasons the Decatur City Council should not opt-out of cannabis-related businesses.
1) Jobs can be created by cultivation centers, processors, transporters, and other cannabis-related businesses – Our city is internationally recognized as an agribusiness center with the infrastructure, expertise, and skilled workforce for growing and processing agricultural products. These businesses will need highly skilled tradespeople to build new facilities or remodel older ones and highly trained workers to operate the businesses. Rather than disallowing cannabis-related businesses such as cultivation centers and craft growers, our city can allow further diversification and growth of one of our most prominent industries.
2) Tax revenue from cannabis-related businesses should go to support increased numbers of police officers in Decatur – Many cite increased criminal activity as a significant reason for why Illinois should not have legalized adult-use cannabis and why cities should opt-out of cannabis-related businesses. If correct, Decatur could see a rise in cannabis-related crime in 2020. Yet, Decatur may have fewer police officers. The council authorized 153 police officers for calendar year 2019. At the end of August, Decatur had 145 officers (5% less than authorized) and total staffing between police officers and potential community liaison officers may not reach 153 in 2020.
3) It is unclear that any of the stated negative impacts of adult-use cannabis will be worse if there is a dispensary in Decatur compared to individuals having to drive to other cities to purchase it – many arguments have been made regarding the negative effects of legalized adult-use cannabis and individuals are justifiably upset and concerned that cannabis has been legalized. However, effective January 1, 2020, adult-use cannabis will be legal for individuals over the age of 21 in Illinois whether one agrees or disagrees with the law. As it pertains to dispensaries, the key question is which, if any, of these negative effects will be intensified if adult-use cannabis is sold in Decatur compared to having to drive elsewhere to purchase it?
David J. Horn, Decatur
Fifty Year Recognition Well Deserved
To the Editor:
As a long time friend of Chris Barnett, I can truly say that his recent award of recognition for his fifty years of service to Decatur School District # 61 is very well deserved. At two revived downtown theaters, Chris has worked diligently to keep film projectors running for the since-closed, Lincoln Square Theatre and at the Avon Theater, where during my participation from 1999 to 2006, he kept the cartoons and comedy shorts on the screen for the Kids Club and regular movie showings. When the club was reincarnated as Super Kids Club in 2007 at the Masonic Temple and later at the Lincoln Square Theatre, Chris came to the rescue if my projector was having problems, since it had been running films for over 35 years.
Even today as the program is now Mt. Zion’s Fletcher Park Kids Club, Chris has been my projector “first responder” from time to time, near asking for anything other than a heartfelt thank you and an occasional can of creamed corn. Chris and I have the destination of being the last persons to project a movie from the Lincoln projection booth. Chris is also an avid radio and TV collector, whereas now, my family’s vintage pre-1953 7 inch Admiral table TV awaits his ownership.
Chris still mans the Avon Theater projection booth where splicing film reels together and threading projectors has given way to button pushing video operation, but nevertheless, Chris will very quickly tell you that “ it’s all about the show!”
Gary Strong, Decatur