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Letters: Gateway jobs concern, school counselors plea

Gateway will bring jobs – for the government

There is a growing threat to our economy through increased taxation by way of transit planning throughout the metro driven by the Met Council, county governments and the Federal Transit Authority (FTA). As a Citizen Advisory Committee member for the Gateway Corridor I am frustrated that most of those involved in the planning have a vested interest in the project which I have dubbed: “a big jobs program.” Jobs for county staff, consultants, the FTA employees, select developers, special interest construction and union groups. 

Plans as far reaching as commuter rail, light-rail or bus-rapid transit (BRT) are under consideration for the east metro. Also, the city of St. Paul is seriously considering street cars. The cost of these options is disproportionate to the true need and it is questionable whether any of it would actually decrease highway congestion. The cheapest option is to increase metro bus service to areas where there is need, along with increasing express bus service.

Ninety-eight percent of people drive cars – only 4 percent ride transit. Most peple need their cars for their work and daily travel needs. Washington County is requesting $5 million more from the state to continue studies. The County Transit Improvement Board (CTIB) wants to increase the transit tax to a half cent – all this to impose something that duplicates a bus system already fulfilling the need. Added lanes for cars are not being planned.

There are political forces that still think commuter rail (the most expensive) or light rail (the next most expensive) are the only and best options. Please consider this carefully when voting this November and learn more, especially about BRT, which is an expensive “light rail on rubber wheels.” It will dislocate businesses and destroy neighborhoods. Is this what we want our transit ways to look like?

Linda Stanton - Woodbury

Deploy more support for school counsels

I am a school counselor at Park High School, and I was happy to learn that Gov. Dayton proclaimed Feb. 3-7 “School Counseling Week.” Minnesota has one school counselor for every 792 students, ranking it 48th in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Education. My fellow school counselors across the state and I are feeling stretched beyond capacity. We do have the good fortune in this district of great support for counselors and student support services, but we can do even better. 

As certified and licensed educators, we help students explore their abilities and interests and support their academic success, career readiness, and social development. We also support a safe learning environment by helping students deal with depression, family and social problems, and negative behaviors. 

Just within the past three days,I supported two students who had suicidal thoughts, developed interventions for two students with high academic failures, connected two students to community therapy services, and connected one family to an alternative education option. This is on top of regular collaborations with teachers, administrators, and other staff, regular check ins with students on my caseload, and other systemic supports. My colleagues share similar experiences. 

State leaders, I urge you to give school counselors the support we need. We are overwhelmed by the number of students we serve and the unrelated responsibilities that take our focus off of student counseling services. By addressing the severe lack of counseling services for our kids, you will increase their chances of success.

Jodi Danielson