Help for homeless students
Cheers to the Bradenton Kiwanis Club for once again heading up the annual Christmas in August event. And cheers to the School District of Manatee County and the club’s dozens of other community partners engaged in this major effort to help some 500 homeless students and families prepare for the beginning of the school year. The sixth annual edition will be held at McKechnie Field on Aug. 6 from 8 a.m. to noon.
Back-to-school supplies that cost from $40,000 to $50,000 annually are handed out for free, though one event organizer estimates the real cost at twice that. Plus, some of those community partners contribute valuable services, including eye exams, dental cleanings and hair cuts. Personal care kits and gift cards for clothes and shoes will be distributed. Entertainment will feature bands, dancers and more — and, of course, Santa Claus in keeping with the event theme.
The number of homeless children attending Manatee County public school is officially put at 1,840, but the district considers this a low count since some families who qualify as homeless are not identified as such for various reasons. Most of those homeless children attend elementary school, a distressing plight that defies easy solutions. The lack of affordable housing continues to be a problem.
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Additional donations of supplies are most welcome. Contact Karen Carpenter, the event chair and chairwoman of the Manatee County School Board at 941-225-3893.
Christmas in August once again demonstrates this community’s generous spirit and charitable service for the underprivileged.
Kudos to a veterans veteran
Cheers to Don Courtney, the longest-serving chairman of the Manatee County Veterans Council. After almost a decade at the helm, the 72-year-old retired U.S. Army chief warrant officer and Vietnam War veteran stepped down earlier this year and this week earned accolades and a plaque in honor of his dedication to serving veterans. Congressman Vern Buchanan took note and an aide delivered a certificate of appreciation to Courtney.
The Manatee County Commission will add to the honors this coming Tuesday at the board’s regular meeting. Courtney’s successor, Carl Hunsinger, presented the plaque, noting his involvement with numerous other veterans organizations. As Herald reporter James A. Jones Jr. reported from Thursday’s council meeting, Courtney accepted the tributes with modesty.
The honors are richly deserved. Our thanks to Courtney for his service to country and veterans.
COLA computation flawed
Jeers to the patently unfair system in which the Board of Trustees of the Social Security Trust Funds sets cost-of-living adjustments for beneficiaries. This week, trustees authorized a paltry COLA increase, if one even arrives. In that event, the COLA uptick will amount to 0.7 percent.
Rep. Vern Buchanan’s 16th Congressional District, which encompasses western Manatee County and Sarasota County, is home to more than 217,000 residents who receive retirement and disability payments, the second-highest number of Social Security beneficiaries in the country.
The blame belongs on the convoluted computation of the consumer price index, which determines the COLA. The current cost-of-living adjustment is based a variety of good and services consumed by urban wage earners and clerical workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics regularly monitors the prices of 211 different categories of consumption items in 38 geographical zones to come up with more than 8,000 item-area indices, thus deriving the consumer price index. Got that?
Seniors are neither urban wage earners nor clerical workers, and their consumption habits are far different and their expenses have been rising faster than the CPI. Plus, the elderly access the health care system far more frequently than other age groups, and medical costs have been increasing every year — at a far greater percentage than the consumer price index. Seniors saw zero COLAs in 2010, 2011 and last year. That’s the likely outcome for 2017, too.
Congress should fix this inequity and adopt a new method of determining the COLA — via a consumer price index for the elderly, as has been recommended.
Quote of the Week
“This is the last year we’re going to have D and F schools.”
— Diana Greene, Manatee County School District Superintendent, vowing to raise academic standings when addressing the Florida Board of Education on Wednesday before outlining the state-mandated turnaround plans for Harllee Middle School and Rogers Garden Elementary School, both repeatedly failing state benchmarks.