Archive for Thursday, January 26, 2006

Mild January robs us of overdue rest

January 26, 2006

This past Saturday the spell was finally broken and a dusting of snow was visible in the morning on the lawn. Throughout this past month of warm weather, I have felt edgy and uncomfortable. I thought it was because we were in the middle of this warm weather pattern that is so unfamiliar in January -- and in a way it was.

But while easing into a comfy chair at 4 o'clock on a cold, gloomy Friday afternoon to watch a movie (during the week yet), I realized it wasn't the warm weather that was bothering me -- it was the fact that January is supposed to be cold. It's supposed to be full of snow with the wind howling outside the house at night and everyone bundled up in heavy clothes and winter underwear.

Some of us who are designed to be always on the move understand this. We are not familiar with this warm spell. This is supposed to come after we have had plenty of time to slouch around the house, to make hot soup with grilled cheese sandwiches and put on the pajamas at 6 in the evening then read or watch the tube until you fall asleep and then wake up in time to watch the news at 10, after which you are awake for a couple more hours to read or even write a column.

The main focus in January is to rest -- yes rest after the madness of preparing for Christmas. Some of you can snooze during the weekend when not working, dropping off for the 20-minute nap, but those of us who are wired on the weather band can't do that. We need an excuse. We need to feel hemmed in, snow bound, cold bound or whatever; otherwise, it's out the door we have to go to take that walk or rake those leaves still in the yard or clean the garage. It's just as bad inside. The sunshine coming in the window shows every little bit of dirt and dust. Ye Gads! Even the oven is dirty. What about all of that paper clutter that is stacked everywhere? Better get on that, but on second thought, save that for a rainy or snowy day -- but they just don't come. So last week on a snowy and cold Friday and Saturday, I was relieved of the need to do anything. I even caught Theresa and Michele down at The Eudora News sifting through papers and shredding the other day during that wonderful lull that descends after the paper is out on Thursday. See, that's what January is for -- not for getting outside or running marathons or exercising.

January is for taking a break or a nap and not feeling guilty for watching a movie at 4 p.m. -- or even 2 p.m. -- without the excuse of being sick. Maybe that's why the flu is rampant -- everyone needs an excuse to just lie down.

January, I've missed you. I'm especially happy to see a little gloom now and then and today has arrived cloudy and cold as well.

Now where is my hot tea and my book?

  • I went to the meeting concerning the new stadium at the high school this past week. Superintendent Marty Kobza did a good job of explaining the position of the administration and the board with an overhead display, but I'm still confused. I don't think I'm totally dense, but talk of mill levies and taxes and how they arrive at money in capital outlay and general funds is not for the uneducated layperson. I think another meeting would be appropriate where perhaps the general public would be given a lesson in "How School Finance Works 101."

After all, there is a "word speak" in any profession, group or organization. To the insider, it's business as usual. But to the average Joe off the street, it can be a foreign language.

What I was able to discern through the complications was that there is an earnest desire by the administration and the board to build this stadium. For some in the community, it looks like the focus in our school system is totally on athletics. If we believe this, I think we are wrong. To think that a group of well-meaning citizens from our community would be so short-sighted as to be thinking only of athletics is to do them a disservice. On the other hand, there are other needs that are apparent, like the need for a larger elementary school, and a place where we can enjoy the other aspects of education like music and the arts in the form of a much-needed auditorium.

All of these are good things, and I believe there is an honest effort to see that these needs are met. But as usual, there is the constraint of money and how that money is acquired from the state or from funds on hand. And finally, doesn't it come from us? Thus, we are back to the confusion.

Teachers' salaries are, of course, of much concern. If my information is correct, money cannot be taken from the capital outlay fund to pay teachers' salaries because of restrictions imposed by the state -- this money must go for facilities, etc. But I also understood that money can go from the general fund into the capital outlay fund. Can't that be earmarked for teachers' salaries instead? All of these questions still remain. I hope I am not the only one confused by the facts.

Another meeting would be an excellent idea. The administration and the board seemed pleased with the attendance of about 50 people3, but quite frankly, I was surprised that so few of us in our community came out to better understand a decision that will impact all of us.

This was interrupted to take a break and watch my grandsons play basketball this past Saturday morning. We are all involved in athletics in some way. It's not just for a few, but actually the glue that often unites us as an entire community. If you think Laws Field is still adequate, (notwithstanding the safety issues) stand in line for the women's restroom at a football game. It usually has to impact us directly before we feel the need, right?

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