Members of Columbia County's school board have fought over lots of things lately: Funding for elementary foreign language, air-conditioning for buses, changes in scheduling.
But never has there been an argument so massive, so important to the future of your children and mine as the one that set them at each other's throats Aug. 10.
The battle lines are drawn. The lawyers are sharpening their writs and their wits. A showdown is coming.
Four of the trustees are angry because one trustee Wrote. A. Letter.
Sorry; I should have warned you to sit down first. Do you need help getting up? Perhaps you should just lie down with your feet elevated for a few minutes. Better?
Our schools are bursting at the seams. Test scores will suffer as the demographic wave continues to bring in occupants for the crappy high-density housing commissioners promiscuously approve. Children are dying on our county's roads.
But by gosh all mighty, Roxanne Whitaker, Mildred Blackburn, Wayne Bridges and Regina Buccafusco are knotting up their drawers because Lee Muns wrote a letter to some business owners, asking for donations to help equip the new foods lab at Evans High School.
Sorry -- I should have warned you again. You didn't bump your head when you fainted, did you?
All sarcasm aside (not really -- I have more where that came from), the trustees say they're upset because Muns wrote that the Evans lab was in danger of being scrapped (his actual letter said "scraped," but we figured out what he meant) from lack of funding.
That's false. The Evans lab has always been on track for completion right after Harlem's lab. It seems Muns "remembers" discussions about cuts in such funds with as much clarity as John Kerry recalls his Vietnam service. ("I was in Cambodia at Christmas. Or New Year's. Easter? Yom Kippur?")
The other trustees are angry because Muns' comment portrays them as cheapskates. Which they aren't -- heck, they just dropped nearly $300,000 on air conditioners for buses. But they're also piling on because his bad information was contained in a letter with the school board's seal on it. The seal is sacred, after all. You've perhaps seen it on the back of the $1 bill -- it's the pyramid with the eye over it.
They're threatening Muns with copyright violation for using the seal, Muns is lawyering up to defend himself, and Superintendent Tommy Price is trying to back slowly from the room to find a hose to squirt them with if they start hitting each other. (Or I suppose he could sic school board attorney William Fleming on them, which would be like hosing them with a squirt.)
Meanwhile, the rest of us out here in that weird place we call The Real World are ready to put them all on an un-air-conditioned bus and run it off a cliff. The four trustees upset with Muns should be used to the fact that he is going to occasionally (by "occasionally," I mean "every time he takes a breath") do whatever the hell he wants without regard for what anyone else on the board or out here in The Real World thinks.
By getting all worked up over such a silly issue, they're wrestling with a pig and finding out they both get muddy -- but the pig likes it.
So what if Muns wanted to thump his chest and act like he personally rescued Evans High's food lab by making a $200 contribution and asking other businesses to donate? The worst that can happen is Evans High may get a few more dollars to fix up its kitchen.
Drop all the lawyer-talk, boys and girls. Get back to business. The state superintendent of schools is coming to visit Friday -- invited by Muns, by the way -- and the last thing we need is a bunch of mud-covered school board members fighting over a dang letter.
Maybe we should tell her to bring a hose.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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