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Letter to the Editor

By Staff | May 8, 2008

To the EDN:

Per the Friday, April 25th edition of the EDN, the ELC School Board Minutes show that our superintendent is once again trying to take Emmet County tax dollars out of our school. He won the battle in terms of not buying property in Estherville, so I am not surprised that Dick Magnuson is continuing on with his agenda.

“FBG feels they can save the district $75K and will submit a formal proposal at the next meeting.” Item B on the suggested agenda for the next school board meeting will address this approval. I have no doubt that this presentation will be made to the board and it will be approved with a rubber stamp.

For the record, the Des Moines Public School District, which is in a metropolitan area that has ample temp service agencies, does NOT outsource janitorial services. That school district also is experiencing tight financial times, and just like every other school in the nation, is looking for ways to save money.

The Spirit Lake School District outsourced their janitorial services a few years back and ended up going back to employing the janitorial staff. I spoke with a person within the district about this decision and there were many reasons for going back to the in-house janitorial staff. One of the major contributing factors was COST. On the surface there is a cost savings, but the district realized that the methods used by the outsourcing company could be used by the district itself with their own employees to further reduce the cost. Have Dick Magnuson and the school board explored ways to save money while retaining our employees? Have they talked to any other school district that has outsourced the service only to revert back to their own staff? If so, it would be appreciated if those finding were presented in the EDN.

It appears that the prime motivator in this situation is more than just economics. If the janitorial services are outsourced, then the school district does not pay the benefit cost of the employee, the contractor, FBG pays the benefits costs, if they pay them at all. There is no doubt that IPERS is a generous program and usually is better than most programs in industry. However, that is a benefit entitled to all employees of the school. In terms of the real economics of this situation, this is taking income and benefits out of local taxpayer households. We do not need, as a community of tax payers, to approve of this type of change of the affected employees. We have a superintendent who is renting a school-owned property below market value who is not paying property taxes and contributing to our schools. We have more than one administrator who does not live in the town or county; more bleeding of tax dollars. Am I the only person who thinks it is wrong for someone with this kind of decision making authority to not be contributing to the tax base? And also think it is wrong for him to target positions held by local residents who are providing a good service without fully exploring all cost reduction opportunities?

The next board meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 12th at 5:15 pm. If you would like to help out our janitorial employees with this fight the best way is to attend this meeting and let your tax paying voices be heard.

Lisa Fernholtz,

Estherville

Letter to the Editor

By Staff | May 8, 2008

To the EDN:

It has come to the attention of many of the citizens of the Estherville area that our local school board will be considering outsourcing the janitorial jobs in the Estherville School system. According to board members this could possibly save the school system somewhere between $12,000 to over $100,000 a year.

FBG Services Corporation based in Omaha Neb. with offices in Des Moines, Davenport and Cedar Rapids is apparently ready to propose a cost-saving plan to our school board.

According to board members the current employees MAY be hired by this new company IF, the FBG contract is approved. Mr. Magnuson stated in the recent Daily News article that the highest paid custodian made more money than a third-year teacher. What does a third-year custodian make and how many years did that custodian have to work to reach that level of pay?

Even though FBG Services MAY hire some of the present custodians there is no guarantee and the management fees for FBG services will be going out of state and I bet they don’t do it for $2 per employee.

A recent Iowa job search revealed a need for janitors in the Davenport area for FBG services with a starting wage of $8 per hour, full- and part-time positions available. The web site for FBG Services Corporation lists benefits as paid training, paid uniforms, vacation and holiday pay, life insurance, health care reimbursement, employee stock ownership program, reward and recognition program and awards, gifts and fun at the annual celebrations and they list these benefits as unmatched!

While I am all for cost savings, sometimes the cheapest is not always the best.

The custodial employees at the schools know us, they know the parents, they know our children and grandchildren and we know them.

We are comfortable in the fact that they keep an eye on our kids. Do we want to throw away that comfort and safety net?

These janitors also have many years working in these buildings, have decent health care benefits and retirement. Their wages turn over several times in the community.

An $8 per hour employee earns about $16,600 dollars a year before taxes, the poverty level from the U.S. census bureau for the year 2006 for a family of four is $20,614 before taxes!

The country has outsourced everything from telemarketing to food processing and is rapidly becoming a service-oriented society, wages have been slashed and many good jobs have been lost, let’s keep our school janitors as school employees and not send our local money to companies in another state. If we have to cut costs maybe we can skim some of the cream off the top.

Be at your local school board meeting at the Middle School, Monday, May 12 5:15 p.m., room 324 or contact the board members and urge them to vote against this proposal.

M. Balch

Estherville

Letter to the Editor

By Staff | May 8, 2008

To the EDN:

I invite all concerned Iowans to help the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement fight back against the proposed closing of the Hy-Vee store located at 3330 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in Des Moines.

This is the only grocery store accessible to the residents of the Harding Hill area, and although Hy-Vee officials have caved in to pressure and agreed to build a smaller store, it is easy to see that this is nothing more than a stall tactic, and, as usual, the victims of this corporate decision (read money) are ordinary, everyday citizens.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement work very hard to be the voice for the voiceless, and like the old adage goes, there’s strength in numbers. Be one of those numbers and help your fellow Iowans – the website is www.iowacci.org.

We’re all in this together!

Very sincerely,

Kathy Fraser,

Whittemore

Letter to the Editor

By Staff | May 8, 2008

To the EDN:

When I studied in college, my courses were scientific. In science, we studied about searching for truth. It is very unsettling to see the direction that many scientists are moving today.

I just went to see “Expelled”–Intelligence Denied–The movie was an investigation of scientists today. Even before I saw this movie, I was concerned about how many scientists are ignoring the facts.

The first we were told about the use of embryos stored in labs being left after the parents either achieved pregnancy or discontinued IVF (invitro fertilization) was in 2004.

Since March of 2004, there has been continued research. The discussion is about money – about wanting the government to pay scientists to do the research.

In the past six years, there have been NO successful treatments of diseases with trying Embryonic Stem Cells Research (ESCR), and the results have been catastrophic. The treatments resulted in many tumors instead of cures.

With the use of ethical Stem Cell Research there have been actual improvements and/or cures for about 80 types of disease. So why are scientists still pursuing ESCR?

It is about money: 1) they are hoping to make our tax dollars pay for their research through the government and 2) they want to patent the process (if it ever works) so then any scientist who would make use of this process, would have to pay $BIG DOLLARS$ for its use.

Dr. Richard Bose, MD

Estherville