Short takes for Feb. 14

Not all students eat?


We found it utterly disturbing that 46 school districts in Minnesota said they immediately or eventually refuse to feed students who can’t pay, this according to a recent report by Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, which also found some schools take meals from students in the lunch line and dump them in the trash when they don’t have money in their accounts. More than half of the districts in the state provide an alternative meal, typically a sandwich. Another 96 school districts provide a hot lunch regardless of ability to pay. It’s appalling to think that any school would refuse to feed a student anything at lunchtime. If schools are going to refuse kids a hot meal they should all at least offer an alternative and should never conduct a “tray pull” in front of a student’s peers – this does nothing more than shame a student and open them up to public ridicule (otherwise known as bullying – heard of it?). Indeed, getting kids fed is a shared responsibility between parents and schools, but if the parents drop the ball for whatever reason, it sure would be nice to know the schools will be there to pick it up.

Good move, YM County


As we stated a week ago, we are firmly against cities and counties being allowed to publish public notices only on their websites and applaud Yellow Medicine County for its decision Tuesday not to support a resolution that would let cities and counties get away with not publishing notices in the newspaper. We understand there is a cost savings that would be realized if local governments weren’t forced to publish in the newspaper, but total transparency and giving the public the information they want from a source they’re used to trumps that. Is losing that transparency worth a few thousand dollars a year? We ask: What’s more public than a newspaper? If you take these notices out of the paper, how “public” will they be? This time-wasting bill will be up for debate at the Capitol this year, and we certainly hope our legislators don’t consider passing it.

MNsure adding more help, but what about the future?


We’ve been critical of MNsure since its inception, but we are glad to see it’s trying to right the ship. This week, 50 new customer service representatives started at the call center, and another 50 will join the team on Feb. 26 – that’s 100 new customer service reps on hand to answer phones and questions surrounding the new health care marketplace in Minnesota. Website glitches and lengthy wait times at the call center have hounded MNsure and has given it a poor reputation from the get-go. Hopefully, since Minnesota has no choice but to comply with federal health care mandates under Obamacare, MNsure’s future will be brighter than its past, but in order for that to happen some serious budget questions will need to be answered, as MNsure is predicted to run into a deficit in 2015. Taking small steps now to clean up the mess is important, but MNsure will likely have a bigger mess to clean up next year.