News and Tribune

August 29, 2008

LETTERS: Aug. 29, 2008

Teachers may not be at your school’s open house

With the opening of school this fall comes open houses. Since teachers continue to work without a contract, we have decided to ask teachers not to attend open houses.

This decision was not an easy one. The teacher representatives from our New Albany-Floyd County Education Association Crisis Committee, made up of teachers from across the system, made the decision.

Teachers have been working without a contract since Jan. 1, 2008. They have had no pay raise since August of 2006.

We will not take educational services away from children, however, we did decide to curtail some of the many extra services we normally provide with no additional pay. Practically speaking, not attending open houses is more work for many teachers. They spent many hours making their rooms ready for parents who would visit, making sure there were displays that are instructional and interesting.

Teachers did not enter this profession to make their first million, however, they also didn’t enter the profession to have to protest, rally, and demonstrate to get the respect of their employers.

Teachers are not asking for outrageous gains! We’ve asked for just above the state average on salary for 2007-2008 (already gone by), the same for 2008-2009, and the state average for 2009-2010. We’ve asked that elementary teachers finally get the same planning time as secondary teachers have had for over 25 years.

We see the School Board find the money ($320,000) to buy and tear down three houses for parking lot space. Teachers just want them to find the money for a fair contract settlement.

At our last negotiations meeting, the administration spent three hours making a proposal that would increase their salary offer by one tenth of one percent. We’ve been at the bargaining table listening to this since October of 2007.

I sincerely apologize on behalf of teachers not attending open houses. I’ll also respectfully request that when parents, relatives, and guardians find their child’s teacher absent from open house, that you direct your frustration to the responsible party — Superintendent Brooks and the School Board.

— Mark Kessans, President, New Albany-Floyd County Education Association

Open letter to the NA-FC board: Keep Silver Street open

First, let me give you a background on myself so you will know where I am coming from. I am 76 years of age, served 20 years in the United States Air Force, and I am a Korean War and Vietnam War veteran. I have raised five children. I have had children in schools in Mississippi, Michigan, New York, Alabama, Florida, Virginia and Indiana. I have a granddaughter who graduated from Silver Street Elementary School and have another granddaughter who is a fifth-grader there. I have great-grandchildren who attend schools in Minnesota and Virginia. I have been an assistant basketball coach at Silver Street Elementary School for the past four years. So, as you can readily see, I have gained quite a bit of knowledge about schools and school systems.

On Monday evening, Aug. 25, I attended the school board meeting and I came away quite impressed with the teachers and principal of the school, the students themselves, and especially the parents of children who attend the school. They make up a very impressive team.

It is my humble opinion that in Silver Street Elementary School, the New Albany-Floyd County School district has a unique situation. They have good teachers, a good principal, students that are eager to learn, and good support from the parents. It takes a combination of all of these to have a school that will determine if the students get a good education. If one, or any, of these combinations are missing, the school will not reach its potential. I believe that Silver Street Elementary has proven, in the past few years, that it is reaching its potential. Their record is so good that even the President of the United States came, in-person, to thank them for a job well done. I fully realize that the school building is over 90 years old and that the school could reach even a higher educational potential if they had a new school building. I also know that is not possible at this time, but it is something the school board could put on the agenda for possible action in the future.

Therefore, if I was a member of the New Albany-Floyd County School board, I would bring two motions before the board. First, and foremost, would be to remove the name “Silver Street Elementary School” from the list of possible closure. Second, would be to make a motion that the name “Silver Street Elementary School” be put at the top of the list for a new school building in the very near future.

Anything short of that would break up a winning combination.

— William “Smitty” Smith, New Albany

Full-service gas stations are win-win

It is disturbing to hear Jeffersonville might enact a law that would fine businesses for gas-thief drive-offs.

Come on guys. More laws, more fines — is this the best our noteworthy councilmen can come up with?

The answer is simple and in your face. Get real! Get with the now! It costs businesses for drive-offs, true. It costs the city for police to try and catch the thieves, true.

OK, then, what I propose is a win-win for everyone.

As the Lone Ranger theme echoes: “Return to those thrilling days of yesteryear . . . ” With full service, an attendant mans the pumps, receives the cash, everyone is happy. No more drive-offs, the gas station saves a bundle. The police don’t have to chase thieves, which saves the city a bundle and, get this, the whole state profits, because Indiana has created new jobs.

Indiana wins, yeah!

Come on guys, do we need more laws because of a reckless few?

Let’s create jobs, not more bureaucracy.

— Leroy Heil, Jeffersonville


I was at the same meeting as Opinions letter writer (published Aug. 22, 2008) Denise Canaday. Several people in the audience were insulting and offensive to Rep. Hill or the rest of us.

One lady rambled about a local, not federal, matter. Another would not accept that Rep. Hill disagreed with his position and kept talking. Another fellow (mentioned in Canaday’s letter) went on about military equipment, but never got to the point. Someone lectured us about windmills.

I finally had a chance to speak. I introduced myself (no one else bothered to do this) and thanked Congressman Hill for helping veterans. My brother just returned from Iraq and I appreciate all Hill has done for the veterans.

I suggest Ms. Canaday and others attending these meetings: Introduce yourselves. Do a full disclosure of who you are, why you care. Say your piece, ask your question but present your point quickly. Thank those present for their time, even if you don’t like their response.

If we’re to return to a civil discourse, it has to start with everyone behaving in a polite manner.

Mr. Schansberg would have loved to debate Mr. Hill, but he sat quietly, respectfully. I can’t say the same for the woman, who works for Mr. Sodrel. She came only to badger Mr. Hill.

(Full disclosure: My daughter works for Congressman Hill. I don’t agree with everything Rep. Hill says and/or does, but I respect him.)

— Nancy N. Palmquist, Jeffersonville

Reader: Pacesetters need to be acknowledged too

I want to thank The Evening News for all the great coverage that you have provided over the years for the youth swimmers of the Jeffersonville-based Pacesetter Aquatics swim team. However, in a somewhat glaring omission in Sunday’s paper, under the heading, “Do you want to be the next . . . Michael Phelps?” several local groups offering swim lessons and team swimming were listed, but Jeffersonville’s own Pacesetter Aquatics was somehow left out.

This seemed surprising to me given the great coverage recently and over the years for Jeffersonville/Pacesetter swimmers like Ben Hesen.

Ben is our four-time state high school champion, Big Ten Swimmer of the Year, Indiana University Athlete of the Year, NCAA champion, and, most recently, the fifth place qualifier in the Olympic trials.

Plus, don’t forget Jeffersonville/Pacesetter swimmer Ariel Martin, a three-time state high school champion and a current Purdue scholarship athlete.

Plus many other individual state, sectional and conference swimmers too numerous to mention here.

We also shouldn’t forget that the Jeff High School boys and girls swim teams have won a combined 13 sectional and conference championships in this decade alone. Most of these swimmers started their careers as a member of the Pacesetter Aquatics swim team.

Finally, most recently, our Jeffersonville Middle School team won the Clark/Floyd championship last March and the Jeffersonville Aquatic Club won the Southern Indiana Swim Association championships last month. Both these teams were loaded with Pacesetter Aquatics swimmers.

So please let our community know that the fall-winter season is about to start. We have early registration this Thursday, Aug. 28 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Jeff High School Natatorium for all prior Pacesetter swimmers.

Anyone interested in joining the team may come to our regular sign-ups for new swimmers on Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday, Sept.. 8, 9 and 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Jeff High School Natatorium. Pacesetters welcomes all youth ages 5 to 18 with a minimum level of swimming, the ability to swim one length of the pool.

For more information, please contact me at or by phone at 812-282-4183 or Coach Keith Gast at

So please come be a Pacesetter, not the biggest, just the best.

— David Blankenbaker, Pacesetter Aquatics President