“You’re Not Going to Get What You Want”: Our Current School Board Chair

Usually I like people in office who get shit done. But our school board chair prefers to get shit (costing taxpayer money) done behind closed doors and without the rest of the board members ratifying a contract for said shit.

Our community has been upset with him for awhile. The newspaper has called for his resignation, and a number of parents in the neighborhood who can’t bake something for a fundraiser eagerly signed a petition encouraging him to leave.

The local district attorney is going to investigate our school district upon hearing that it has no money to fund full-time art, music, physical education and library science programs to elementary students, but somehow can afford to pay $70,000 to a law firm to investigate (and eventually exonerate) the previous superintendent; $160,000, or a full year’s salary, as part of the previous superintendent’s settlement; and now, up to $17,000 to hire a search firm to search for a new superintendent. (Search firms have been utilized in finding such great candidates that the district has gone through two superintendents in three years.) In addition, the interim superintendent is charging the district $700/day, plus travel expenses. (His first letter to the community was a defensive justification of his salary. And a good welcome to you, too!)

The chair has sworn in meetings where there are children present, and has told constituents who voted for him that they aren’t going to get what they want; namely, reinstating those elementary school programs and his resignation.

Word on the street is that the chair, who owns a property development company, will have to shell out beaucoup bucks to introduce those programs back into schools, because it will mean a hike in taxes. All of the other school districts around us face the same budget woes from the state and somehow have managed to keep programming intact.

We moved to our neighborhood solely based on the schools, and I voted against the chair when he was up for re-election last November. He and other candidates cross-registered, so if people voted for their ticket, the chair and friends automatically got their vote.

In response to all the publicity–the interim superintendent said his main job was to keep the board off the front page of the newspaper–the vice chair recommended that the board not post meeting times or agenda items, which would violate the school board’s charter.

Now I get to take my kids to the dentist, which is located in the same complex as the chair’s company. I don’t know who this is going to hurt more, me or them.

 

 

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“You’re Not Going to Get What You Want”: Our Current School Board Chair

Lockdown

Our local high school went on administrative lockdown today shortly after school started. A bullet, along with a threat, was left in a men’s room. Everyone in the district got a robocall with a basic explanation of what happened, with instructions to go to the district’s website for more information. The website promptly crashed, and the information released in the robocall was also posted on the district’s Facebook page.

High school students were dismissed early and searched before they left the building. All activities were cancelled this evening. The local newspaper reported that authorities arrested a 17-year-old student, who was charged with making terroristic threats. The school is not releasing any more information because it’s part of an official investigation. The authorities aren’t releasing the student’s name because the suspect is a minor.

Administrative lockdown is when kids have to stay in classrooms but teachers can still go ahead with their lessons.

I’m very familiar with the high school, even though my children are in elementary school, because the high school is roughly 50 yards from my house. The district’s middle school is on the same campus, and my kids’ elementary school is 200 yards away from the high school.

I understand why the school and police release as little information as possible, but I was nervous because I didn’t know the nature of the threat. Was it directed against a particular student, or group of students, or a teacher, or the principal? If it’s against one person, then chances are the suspect wasn’t threatening to blow up the entire school–which could possibly impact my children’s school and my home. 

(There was a similar incident with a bullet at the high school two years ago, and the student allegedly had inadvertently brought in leftover ammunition after a weekend hunting trip.)

I really have nothing else to say; lots of parents are exploding all over social media and I don’t have anything constructive to add. Everything goes back to normal tomorrow; I’ll complain more about our school board then.

Lockdown

The Goonies is the 1980s Version of the Hobbit

Last night, my husband had a night out with friends and I offered to take my kids to see Zootopia, which simultaneously has been called the best children’s movie since Beauty and the Beast AND an animated argument for racism and xenophobia.

Eventually, the kids opted to stay home and have a movie night. This is great because I don’t have to spend half of my husband’s paycheck on tickets and concessions, but also troublesome because the act of choosing a movie in my house is what I imagine to be similar to the UN dealing with any Middle Eastern country.

They eventually settled on Goonies. We’ve tried to watch it before but my husband, the Captain of the Fun Police, put the kibosh on it since the kids in the movie say “shit” and Chunk  hilariously and incorrectly glued the David statue’s penis on after breaking it off.

We all loved it. Unlike a lot of other movies I’ve seen and loved from childhood (*cough* The Neverending Story *cough*), Goonies really holds up, despite the lack of technology: “Kids, that’s a cassette player; cassettes came before CDs but after vinyl.” I think it’s a strong argument that great storytelling trumps special effects, every single time.

The Goonies, as everyone knows, stars Sean Astin, who went on to deliver an Oscar-worthy performance as Sam in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I thought back to when I read and watched The Hobbit with my children, and an idea came to me: the two movies had a lot of similarities.

For example:

  • Both movies feature an unlikely ensemble on a treasure hunt to reclaim their homes. Thorin Oakenshield is determined to deliver an eviction notice to Smaug while Mikey and co. are desperate to prevent their houses from being destroyed.
  • The dwarves have a song that describes what happened to them and their home. The Goonies have an oath. OK, maybe I’m stretching.
  • When the dwarves arrive at Bilbo’s house, they eat everything in sight and although they eventually clean up, Bilbo practically had a coronary as the dwarves manhandle the furniture and decor. In Goonies, Mouth terrorizes the Walshes’ maid, Data obliterates the screen door upon entry and Chunk breaks the aforementioned statue and museum pieces in the attic.
  • Both groups feature an overweight oaf-like character: Chunk and Bombur. (The Fratellis threaten to eat Chunk just like the trolls try to eat Bombur and the dwarves.)
  • Mikey and Thorin both come across maps to the treasure that need to be translated. Mikey enlists Spanish scholar Mouth and Thorin, deferring to Gandalf and going against his better judgement, consults Elrond, the Elvenking, to make sense of his. (Mouth wholeheartedly approves of the journey while Elrond is much more cautious.)
  • Mikey and Thorin both faces tests that measure their greed. Mikey leaves some of the treasure for One-Eyed Willy, although Thorin succumbs to the same sickness from which the gold-hungry dragon suffered.
  • Everyone overcomes great odds to eventually succeed.

Of course, the Goonies’ journey is not as epic and takes place over 24 hours or so; not seven months. My son (loudly) reminded me that no one dies in the Goonies, while SPOILER three of the dwarves eventually lost their lives at the end of the Hobbit.

My daughter just smiled and nodded and said, “That’s great, Mom. Can we please watch our cartoons now?”

 

 

The Goonies is the 1980s Version of the Hobbit

Making Exercise a Competition: The Fitbit

    My husband and I are very competitive. We can’t play Trivia Pursuit without my husband insisting we trade the boxes that hold the questions because I apparently get all the easy ones. (This is just one example. My daughter suggested we go to a “feelings doctor” after she watched us try to play pinochle together.)
A few years ago, during a kitchen renovation and giving up Diet Coke cold turkey, I decided to take up running and I started Couch to 5K. I eventually went on to complete several races over the course of a number of years before my knees revolted over any form of high-impact activity.

Not to be outdone, my husband took up running and is currently training for his third half-marathon. (Slacker.)

I asked for a Fitbit for our wedding anniversary last year; I easily could be the least romantic woman you’d ever come across. I’m pretty diligent about getting my 10,000 steps a day, although being home with a sick child, like yesterday, is an exception. I have a Flex, shown above, and it even measures how often and how well I sleep. I’ve friended other people and can enter contests and earn badges on how much I walk every day.

I came across a deal for the Fancy Fitbit (I think it’s a Charge?) and my husband got one last week. It tracks his running pace, alerts him when he receives a call or email and I think it even helped the accountant do our taxes. So far I WALK MORE STEPS THAN HIM EVERY DAY but I don’t think he’s as religious about having it charged.

I’ve read that some long term health facilities are thinking of giving their residents to track activity and even vital signs like resting heart rate. I thought it sounded great in theory but after considering it more  I find it’s awfully invasive and very Hunger Games/Big Brother.

I’ll report back in a month or so with step totals.

Making Exercise a Competition: The Fitbit

Sick Day

I’m lucky that my children are healthy and usually only get sick when there’s something going around at school or when I ask them to do chores.

Because of the nice weather, our schedule has been out of whack. We had a rushed morning and I got a phone call from the nurse within 30 minutes. Again, I’m lucky. The child in question had a strenuous gym class yesterday, played outside for two hours, had a late dinner last night and a rushed breakfast this morning. She kept her food down and simply needed a restful day in which I annihilated her in 500 rummy (#victorylap).

One of the main reasons I decided to stay home with my children was because of situations like this. Because of the inflexible nature of my husband’s job, I usually had to collect and then stay with the sick child. Despite a rise of many workplaces calling themselves “family-friendly,” in reality many of them change their tune when confronted with a mom who unexpectedly has to leave work early. (I worked at one place that was incredibly supportive and never raised an eyebrow or asked questions when I had to pick up a sick kid. I’m forever grateful and it makes me hopeful that more companies like that exist.)

So along with the guilt I felt at somehow not being a fortune-teller and not being able to predict when my kids were going to fall ill, I also was in a scramble to reschedule work-related meetings and calls so my bosses and colleagues were happy. This happened while working full-time or part-time. I know as a lapsed Catholic I’m predisposed to feel a lot of guilt to begin with, but because of our particular situation–no family in the area to help, my husband’s job–it simply became a lot easier to handle once I left work.

Of course, I still have to juggle things when the unexpected happens but it’s infinitely easier for me to do now that I’m at home. Instead of the guilt I just feel relief.

Sick Day

A Taste of Spring 

It’s 20 degrees warmer than usual in Online Offal Town and for the past two days we have been overdosing on Vitamin D and seeing our neighbors for the first time since Thanksgiving.

Although I live in suburbia, there are lots of farms nearby. I threw open all the windows to let in some of that good country air, promptly panicking the cat, and immediately inhaled the pungent aroma of manure. (People who have lived here long enough can differentiate between the various kinds of fertilizers that are used throughout the year. I always ask natives about that at parties and play dates.)

When it’s this pleasant, I give my kids the option of playing outside before doing homework. We’re at that glorious time of year before spring sports have started, so I don’t have to rushrushrush them to make sure we get somewhere on time. They can ride their bikes and play with whomever they run into. I pretend I don’t know what television is. They are legitimately tired at night, instead of just being worn out from ignoring me all day long. 

But in just two days, things have gotten out of control. Yesterday, my son came home and tried to plug in a big electric fan near the couch in front of the black talky box. I reminded him it was cooler outside. Today he got off the bus and asked if I could set up the sprinkler. (I have to remind him to shower most days.)  We’ve been spending so much time reacquainting ourselves with neighbors that dinner and other subsequent activities–like, BEDTIME–have been pushed back to the point where I have to wake my children up in the morning. And if there is one thing I hate doing, it’s starting the day with sleep-deprived children, because my patience vanishes before the school bus arrives.

Everything is supposed to come crashing down this weekend, which is coincidentally when Daylight Savings Time begins, when the temperatures will plummet to a seasonably appropriate 55 degrees. (It also snowed this time last week.)

Happy Spring.

A Taste of Spring