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25
Oct

Raybould mounts aggressive campaign

Jane Raybould is really going after Ray Stevens’ seat on the Lancaster County Board. I live in this hotly contested district, and Raybould is trying to unseat Stevens by highlighting the two most controversial things the County Board did in recent years.
And that’s saying something, because the County Board rarely makes headlines.
She’s sending out fliers saying the board sold a $10 million asset (Lancaster Manor) for $2.6 million.
“What have we done to our most vulnerable Lancaster County residents?”
Ouch.
And she’s blasting the board for building a new jail even though voters rejected a $65 million jail bond proposal in 2008. She neglects to mention that the board made it clear it was going to build a new jail either way, but, hey, it’s campaign season!
She’s even going after the board for not inviting the public to “Thursday executive meetings” — however, those meetings are open to the public unless the board is discussing an issue that is exempt from the open meetings law. For example, personnel issues or real estate purchases — which is the reason some of those Lancaster Manor meetings were closed.
So the flier is inaccurate.
The black cover of the flier is ominous, and says, “You didn’t get your say on the sale of Lancaster Manor. You didn’t get your say on the jail, even after you voted it down. You aren’t invited to the ‘Thursday Executive Meetings,’ where all major decisions are made behind closed doors. The Lancaster County Board has been operating behind closed doors for far too long.”
I don’t think the County Board really operates behind closed doors so much as local media just don’t pay much attention to them. But these are such hot button issues, and Raybould is hitting them hard, so it might be a race to watch.

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25
Oct

SROs prevent bullying, but cut in Lincoln

TIME magazine reports that “one proven strategy” for school districts to prevent bullying is having school resource officers around.
However, such SROs were cut from the city of Lincoln budget this year. Not from high schools, but the four SROs who cover 10 middle schools were cut from the city budget this summer.
With all the attention on bullying right now — in the wake of four teen suicides in 19 days — I found it interesting that TIME says studies of schools with SROs have lower violence rates than schools that don’t have them.
However, the SROs in Lincoln’s middle schools — which seem to be a breeding ground for bullies — were lopped out of the city budget this summer.
Police Chief Tom Casady has said it’s not that middle school SROs aren’t valuable, it’s just that he needs police officers elsewhere in Lincoln, too, and when you have to cut your budget… . I thought maybe the school district would pick up the cost and keep the officers, but they didn’t, and the SROs will be gone from middle schools at the end of this semester. The school boad may want to rethink this decision, given the bullying epidemic.
The city has been talking about making this cut for years. Back in 2007, during the debate, Casady posted a chart to show people how often police are called to the city’s middle schools: