Thursday, June 28, 2012

I wrote a letter to the editor, but I'm not sure it's going to make the paper, so I'm going to post it here for the world to see.

Dear Editor,

Dr. L and the School Board have instituted fees for participating in the music ensembles. If each ensemble has its own $60 fee this is going to get mighty expensive!

Let me break it down for you:

My daughter is involved in Marching Band, Brass Ensemble, Jazz Band, Percussion Ensemble, and Pep Band.  Do the Math: $60 x 5 = $300 just for music.  Add in Theatre, Spring Track, and Swim Team for another $180 and we’re up to $480 – this doesn’t even include the consumables fees I have to pay at the beginning of the year, nor does it include the incidental costs associated with each group like band camp ($350), instrument costs ($50 -$100), gloves ($3/pair), shoes ($35), uniform cleaning ($60), transportation costs ($??), track shoes ($95 - $145), warm ups ($150), swim suits ($60), and the fundraising imposed by each group. Basically, Dr. Lewis and the School Board have priced my daughter out of her activities.  I can only imagine how financially unattainable this is going to be for families with two or three students involved in these activities.

My daughter is a senior and that privilege comes with even more fees, if you can believe it!  The year starts with activity fees ($60), the consumables fees ($25) and the parking fees ($100), which must be paid in order to get her schedule.  Then there is the $100 for the yearbook (It’s her senior year and she should be allowed to have this one.), the graduation announcements ($75 - $100), the fee for the cap and gown ($25), the SAT and ACT costs ($50 each), and the application fees for college ($50 each).  The year finally ends with the fee for the National Honor Society stole ($20) and bill from guidance for the transcripts that were required by the colleges and scholarships to which she applied ($2 each).  Basically, I’ll spend the year writing checks to FHS. I thought that this was a “free” education paid for with my tax dollars. Yeah, I know - there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

I have one more tidbit – It said in the paper that Dr. L is “implementing” a $60 fee for swimming. Excuse me, but we have ALWAYS paid the activity fee for Swimming. This is nothing new! I keep paying fees, but when I ask where money goes, I can’t get an answer. They cash the checks, and the money just disappears into a dark hole!  It certainly never ended up in the Marching Band or the Swim Team coffers.

Friday, June 22, 2012

They just don't get it...

Those of you who know me personally know that I have been fighting city hall for some time. First it was to fight the $25 million to build a new school building that did not give the teachers and faculty what they needed -- more classrooms. Yes, for $25 million, you too, can gain ONE classroom. Yeah - like that's fiscally responsible spending... whatever.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people have no idea how their tax dollars are being spent.  Just today someone said to me, "Tell me what classrooms are in the new building. What's where? And, How many classrooms does the new building give us?" Are you kidding me? That's your tax dollar!!! Do you not pay attention to what is going on around you? Do you not read the paper?? It's no wonder the School Board doesn't like me and my cronies... they'd rather just do what they want without any questions or checks and balances and not be bothered with the nosy conservative parents that we are.

My kid has one year left in this school system and once she graduates, I'm going to have plenty of time to sit in meetings and irritate the crap out of our elected officials. And you know what? I'm kinda looking forward to it.

But really, you know what really has my knickers in a twist?

The middle school sports program went from a competitive program that served a few excellent athletes to an intramural program that serves far more students for far less cost. These parents think they've lost something. In effect, they still have a program at a cost of $86K and they saved $140k by doing this. The high school music program lost all of the Ensemble programs. The cost for that: $15k - that's $5k per school.  The sports people don't seem to care that we've lost it all. We have nothing. Nada. Zip. All they care about is that they don't have their competitive program. OMG! You people are ridiculous! You still have sports at the middle school level. We have NO ensembles at the high school level. No ensembles for the kids who play instruments. No ensembles that give leadership opportunities. No ensembles that allow some of the kids who can't take music classes because of scheduling conflicts to still play their instruments.

When you speak to people and you tell them that the sports programs still have some sort of a program - and it might not be a competitive program, they tell you that the athletics are important. They don't even listen! They just tell you that athletics is good for kids. Well -- you know what? So is music! Music makes a better math student. Music is a life long endeavor. How many 75 year olds do you see out there playing football?? Hmmm??

Think about it this way: What is a world without music? Think about a movie... no music? Boring movie. Even the silent movies had piano music! What is Disney World without music? Pretty dull, right? How about your radio stations? No music = all talk.  You sigh and think I'm crazy. Now, you go home and turn on the TV. Without music, your show would be mighty dull, right?  There is even music in the grocery store and your favorite restaurant's bathrooms! You go to see rock concerts - those stars started somewhere! You go to see the Fireworks on the 4th, The Nutcracker at Christmas, or you go to the Opera or the Symphony -- you can bet your bottom dollar that many of those musicians were in their high school jazz ensembles, pep bands, brass ensembles and more.

The latest bit of buzz from the school department is that we can have the high school ensembles back if we "Self Pay".  Excuse me, but why is it that the athletic programs are always funded by the school system - albeit some only partially - and the music students have the privilege of a self-pay program? That is absolutely ludicrous!    If the school department wants me to pay for the privilege of having my daughter in an ensemble, then they will be paying for the privilege of listening to her and her classmates play for Baccalaureate, Awards Night, GED Graduations, and more.  Fair's fair. Right?