Thumbs: Our high country lowdown on the news - Oct. 19, 2012

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By Optic Editorial Board

THUMBS DOWN! TURNING TO CHAPTER 11. With Highlands University and other entities filing suit against Makwa Builders LLC, perhaps a bankruptcy was to be expected. The former-and-fired builder of the university’s student center has filed Chapter 11, putting Highlands and others on hold in efforts to collect on and/or settle disputes with Makwa.
Did Highlands enter into a contract with a house of cards? If so, it’s worth assessing the situation that led to such a misjudgment.

THUMBS UP! TASTY CHOICES. About a month after a social media posting of a less-than-appetizing food tray at Memorial Middle School, Las Vegas City Schools officials are saying improvements are in the works. Menus have been changed, cooks have been sent to a food preparation class, and an effort is being made to serve fresh, regionally grown organic fruit at least once a week. (All this may be at a cost, however, as district officials are considering an increase in meal prices to pay for the improvements.)
These are good steps in the right direction. Now, if the district can just get the kids to eat the healthier foods it’ll be a huge step forward.
Oh, and the garden idea is another good approach — it’s a way to grow healthy veggies and teach the kids something to boot. Here’s hoping that works out as well.

THUMBS DOWN! SCHOOL BUS ISSUES. To add to the East district’s “drama” these days, comes a photo of what appears to be an overcrowded bus, bringing into question the safety of more than 40 middle school football players, along with three coaches, on a trip to Pojoaque last week. That’s disconcerting in itself, but so is a companion issue that’s being reiterated with this latest episode: that of school bus safety.
According to school board member Ernesto Salazar, drivers are expressing concerns about unsafe buses and overcrowding, and that he’s been told that seven trips have resulted in breakdowns. Obviously, this needs to be addressed immediately.

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“The board unfortunately hears of mishaps or when things do not work well, but like other industries we would like to share with you our other accomplishments.”
— Sheryl McNellis-Martinez, Las Vegas City Schools superintendent, in response to concerns about bus safety and overcrowding raised at a school board meeting last week. She pointed out that the district had taken 105 activity trips, most of which were without incident.