Letters to the editor for March 28, 2014

Law banning bullying is needed

To the Editor:

As a parent in the Anoka Hennepin School District I can tell you bullying is still a problem in our state and a big one in our district specifically. Just look at the 2013 Anoka Hennepin Anti Bullying Student Survey results conducted just this past December by our district. The numbers are heartbreaking. They surveyed 4,752 students and 1,568 reported being bullied in the past month; 2,946 students admit to seeing someone bully someone else with 760 of them saying they’ve seen it regularly or every day. That means 1,378 kids who were being bullied, (as witnessed by others) did not report. Sadly the survey reports that students were less likely to report to adults in the buildings citing lack of supervision, awareness or intervening by the adult as their reason.

According to the survey, 461 fourth graders admitted to being hit, kicked or pushed by someone, 337 sixth graders, 371 eighth graders and 243 tenth graders admit the same. That’s 1,412 students who were by definition “physically assaulted” in our schools. Of the students surveyed, 1045 reported that another student touched, grabbed or pinched them in a way that made them uncomfortable; 1,853 students surveyed admit to feeling “unsafe” in the hallways, which is understandable since it’s the primary place bullying occurs according to the survey results. The awful numbers go on and on.

So for those who claim there is no need for a law banning such conduct I challenge you to request, read and do the math on your own districts with regard to bullying. No child should fear going to school, and every student who sees such conduct should be empowered to stand up in defense of a fellow student. Kids need to be educated to the differences around them so they can learn to embrace those differences not fear them. This bill addresses every layer of this complex, multi faceted issue with student safety at as a common thread woven throughout. How anyone can be against that is a mystery to me.

Melissa Thompson
Coon Rapids

Thank you to school district’s volunteers

To the Editor:

National Volunteer Recognition Week is April 6-12. It’s a week for many special “thank-yous” in the Anoka-Hennepin School District – over 11,000 volunteers contributed over 185,000 hours of work in Anoka-Hennepin schools last year.

Thank you to our strong band of community members coming to schools every day to help students and staff. Volunteers guide students in their studies one-on-one or in small groups; coordinate schoolwide reading programs; present information about work life and careers; complete clerical tasks; coach sports and academics; and contribute in other meaningful ways to improve student learning.

Thank you to our terrific Anoka-Hennepin community that actively supports our students by giving time and talent – through the tough times and the good times. Thank you to Anoka-Hennepin Volunteer Services staff who are committed to keeping the doors open for this concerned community, not only to see our schools in action but to be an important part of the action. Thank you to school staff who design their activities so that volunteers can make meaningful contributions.

Thank you to many unsung heroes who support others’ volunteering. Families generously adjust their schedules and activities so that parents, grandparents, sons and daughters can volunteer. Community nonprofits advocate for and financially boost students and schools. Thank you to faith communities who step forward and help meet families’ basic needs so their children can be ready to learn. Finally, thank you to PTOs, PTAs, booster clubs, Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation, local businesses and other friends of public schools who work tirelessly and cooperatively so students receive quality education and activities. In particular, PTOs and PTAs give critical financial support to the Volunteer Services program so that our schools can be open for the community.

There’s a lot to celebrate in Anoka-Hennepin during National Volunteer Recognition Week.

Sue Archbold, Anoka-Hennepin Volunteer Services Supervisor
Linda Rodgers, Anoka-Hennepin Parent Involvement Coordinator

The problem with potholes

To the Editor:

There are few among us who’d argue that winter shouldn’t end. It’s been a long one. However, the end of winter inevitably signals another challenge in Minnesota: potholes.

The freezing and thawing of spring gnaws at our roads, exposing every weakness. But this year expect it to be even more severe due to the prolonged cold and amassed snow.

Potholes occur when the pavement or material beneath it cannot support the weight of the traffic it carries. The first sign is a crack in the pavement. Then, water seeps into the crack. It may freeze and expand to worsen the crack, or run off, carrying the pavement’s base layer with it. That allows more water to seep into the void, freeze and expand, creating a pavement bubble, which is repeatedly popped by crossing traffic. The result is broken pavement, which gives way to a pothole. Minnesota’s freezing and thawing just exacerbates the problem.

Until the ground is thawed and dry, any fix is temporary, but Anoka County has all hands on deck to fight the pothole problem. Anoka County is responsible for 1,600 lane miles of roadway. Your current board of commissioners has made investing in your county roads a priority, knowing your safety is at stake. We’ve increased spending on resurfacing by 400 percent and made the switch from short-term asphalt (blacktop) to concrete (whitetop) whenever possible for its long-lasting benefits.

We encourage you to tell us where the problems are so we can send a crew to fix them. Either call us at 763-862-4200 or report a pothole online at www.anokacounty.us/pothole. A patch may need to be applied several times, but if that’s what it takes, we’ll get it done.

Please be patient and join us in the fight to keep our roads safe. Report potholes and give crews working on the roadway plenty of room to be safe and get the job done.

Rhonda Sivarajah, Chairperson
Anoka County
Board of Commissioners

Elected officials should attend meetings

To the Editor:

When people are elected to the city council they are expected to be at two meetings a month – planning commission members are expected to be at only one meeting a month. Apparently, council and planning commission members do not take this responsibility serious because at every meeting some of them are absent.

At the March 4 Coon Rapids City Council meeting, Ron Manning was absent. The six members who were present voted 3-3 to deny a sign variance for a new restaurant in Coon Rapids. Had Manning been there – he would have had the tie vote and maybe we would have gotten the new restaurant in Coon Rapids but since he chose not to be at the meeting, the variance was denied. Maybe he chose not to be present because he didn’t want to be the swing vote – who knows?

At the March 18 council meeting – Councilmembers Denise Klint and Bruce Sanders were absent. In their absence, the reconstruction of Crooked Lake Boulevard was much discussed by council . A public hearing was held. After all this, the item had to be continued for two weeks because there were not enough members present to vote. This is unacceptable. Every day counts in construction periods in Minnesota and now because these two council members chose to be absent, this construction has to be put off for two more weeks. If these people can’t attend two meetings a month they need to be kicked off the council. They knew when they were elected that they had two meetings a month. If they can’t set aside these two meetings, they have no right to sit on the Council.

Who do these members report to? Why is it they can just come and go as if they answered to no one? The people of Coon Rapids deserve better. These people were elected to be at those two meetings a month and unless they are sick in bed – they should be there. Someone needs to be responsible for them not being there.

Marge Miller
Coon Rapids

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