Thumbs up: To working together to reduce deficits. This week, DeKalb-based School District 428 announced its 2013-14 deficit had been whittled from a projected $2.7 million to about $1.5 million, thanks in part to salary concessions agreed to in a new contract with the DeKalb Classroom Teachers’ Union. In a contract finalized before the start of this school year, the teachers’ union agreed to a salary freeze for members this year, which saved the district about $750,000, school officials said. A 4.8 percent decrease in health insurance premiums also saved another $511,000. Although the district still must search for ways to bring its expenses in line with its revenue, it is good to see cooperation between the teachers and the school board helped to reduce the size of the district’s deficit.
Thumbs up: To 50 years of making a real difference. Over the past 50 years, Opportunity House has helped countless people with disabilities and their families. The organization helps people with disabilities find housing and jobs and learn life skills so they can be as independent as possible and make their own solid contributions to the community. Their work would be much harder without the support of the community, particularly those businesses and organizations that hire Opportunity House clients as employees or volunteers. Happy 50th anniversary.
Thumbs down: To those who made racist comments after Nina Davuluri, an Indian-American woman representing New York, was named Miss America this week. In the Internet age, ignorant people everywhere are empowered to spew their nonsense without ever having to summon up the guts to confront the objects of their vitriol. Some debate where beauty pageants fit in modern society, but be that as it may, there’s no excuse for attacking someone based on their ancestry, or reciting racial stereotypes. Although there are many outlets for racist voices today, it’s important that we remember that they are not the norm and that just because people today have more opportunities to dump trashy views on us, it doesn’t make them any more worthwhile or mainstream.
Thumbs up: To the beginning of the high school homecoming season. DeKalb High School will host its homecoming dance tonight in keeping with the Willy Wonka theme displayed in downtown DeKalb during the parade Thursday. We applaud the teachers and parents whose extra work keeps these traditions special for high schoolers, and we encourage high schoolers to stay safe and responsible so they can make memories worth cherishing this homecoming season.
Thumbs up: To the DeKalb County Health Department, which is working with local health care providers and hiring staff to help local residents navigate the insurance marketplace created through the Affordable Care Act. The insurance marketplace, also known as the Exchange, is a website that will help people and small businesses choose among many health insurance plans. The Exchange will open Oct. 1 and coverage will start Jan. 1, but thanks to a $92,000 grant, health department leaders have hired three part-time workers who will walk people through the marketplace. Change is hard, but we’re glad our local officials stand ready to help those who need it with the transition.