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Westside school board: Salary increase is appropriate

The Westside Community Schools Board of Education takes exception to the Omaha World-Herald’s May 15 editorial criticism of our vote to modestly increase our superintendent’s pay. Curiously, the editorial omits any discussion of our board’s public decision making process on this issue. As reporter Emily Nitcher’s article published on the same day points out, Westside conducted a performance evaluation as part of the contract renewal decision, as it always does.

The reasons for the Westside board’s decision were numerous. They included careful evaluation of our superintendent’s performance, his compensation relative to other area superintendents, the fiscal condition and outlook for the district, and, yes, the uncertainty created by the pandemic that is affecting us all. The process was, in fact, the opposite of “autopilot budgeting.”

Westside Community Schools has thrived under the leadership of Dr. Mike Lucas. He has made remarkable progress in numerous areas that the board has identified as priorities. He has helped create a culture of trust and candor that has benefited our students and staff. Operating costs have been reduced as administrative functions have been streamlined. His leadership team and our staff have shown great skill in navigating the change from classroom to extended campus learning necessitated by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Board of Education unanimously supported this reasonable and fiscally responsible recognition of his accomplishments, and we still do.

Board of Education, Westside Community Schools, Omaha

Restrictions go way too far

Last week Gov. Ricketts “allowed” many businesses to reopen and also eased the restrictions on churches. I am shocked by how arbitrary these decisions are and by how easily we have given up our rights with nary a protest!

I cannot touch a hymnal at church but while searching for the perfect birthday card for my granddaughter at Walmart, I can read 20 cards and put them back before choosing the one I want. People can be packed on a plane, but kids can’t play ball? Restaurants, salons and gyms can open following social distancing guidelines, but bars, casinos and private clubs cannot be trusted.

It all seems completely arbitrary and more of an attempt to legislate morality than promote business, economic repair and religious freedom.

It is time for us to take our country back. People who are over 65 (like me) and people with compromised health conditions should take all necessary precautions, but the young and healthy should take back their lives! The goal has been met. We have flattened the curve. Let us pray these restrictions are not like taxes — once implemented, they will never be removed!

LaVonne S. Lee, Omaha

Sasse speech fell flat

It seems that Sen. Ben Sasse couldn’t even find the time to shave his face for the 2020 graduating class of Fremont High School, although he had time to scribble poorly written jokes that clearly fell short of the intended targets.

Keep your day job, Sen. Sasse, or better yet, let someone else with more respect for the future leaders of our country take your place. You are a disgrace.

Cynthia Douglas-Ybarra, Omaha

Failing grade for this speech

Sen. Sasse, your speech to Fremont high school graduates was most uninspiring, insulting and negative. Were you trying to engage in sarcasm? Your speech was a miserable fail at humor or sarcasm, a modeling of inept behavior similar to your party’s leader.

Absent of an inspiring message, you delivered slams about becoming psychologists, about forgetting high school and about cleaning up today’s problems left to the students.

May you give thought to the tenor expected in graduation speeches. Your speech to the Fremont graduates was a fail.

Carol Gottsch, Omaha

Climate refugees

As the need to implement climate-change policies increases, the current lack of governmental action will lead to the world’s first climate refugees. By our lively discussions in our International Issues class at Marian High School, climate-related topics are priority for younger generations.

Who are these climate refugees? They are the 10,000 citizens of Tuvalu, a small island nation in the South Pacific who are vulnerable to rapidly rising sea levels. Soon, they will have to leave their homes forever. Tuvalu is not alone. Coastal communities around the world will eventually be at risk. The Philippines and Bangladesh, with combined populations of almost 300 million, are equally as threatened. These people rely on the land for their livelihoods and well-being. Where will they go when these resources disappear?

The United States plans to admit only 18,000 refugees this year. Nebraska’s acceptance rate is down by 80%.

What should our country’s refugee resettlement policy be when billions are forced from their homelands? This problem and its associated costs will balloon into a humanitarian crisis where we all suffer if we don’t take steps now to reconsider refugee admittance.

It’s time for the U.S to be a world leader in refugee resettlement policy to prepare for climate refugees.

Scarlett Wedergren, Omaha

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