Afterthoughts

An occasional collection of vignettes from events and public meetings in Warren County that never make it into news stories because…well, you’ll see.

Strength in numbers

Warren County School District is not the apple of everyone’s eye. At a recent goal-setting meeting, among the weaknesses identified by board members were: “public participation in what we do is pretty poor,” and “public perception of what we’re doing.” The board members did acknowledge all three citizens in attendance for doing their part.

Economies of scale

At a recent meeting, a school board member suggested that some highly practical economic learning be part of the curriculum by saying, “You make one boneheaded financial decision and it might cost you 25 years of your credit and a lot of money to fix it.” Another board member made a comparison.

Pennsylvania did not chip in for employee pensions for several years because the market was going gangbusters. Then, the market tanked. Now, the (boneheaded?) state and school districts are buried under billions of dollars of retirement.

Tenure

New board and committee members are often not expected to be highly productive, contributing members as they learn the ropes. Sometimes, that period ends before the member would like it to. A school board member who has more than one year of service was put in his place recently. “That means you’re an effective board member this year.” There was no discussion about what kind of board member he was last year.

Unfamiliar territory

A board member giving an update on his area of expertise prefaced his statement by saying he would not be getting on his soapbox. As he concluded, the other board members sat quietly for several seconds, expecting him to continue. Their confusion stemmed from that member always concluding that report by saying, “Now I’ll get off my soapbox.”

Strained elbows

It can be valuable for boards and committees to periodically take a look at how they are doing. The school board did that recently. “The board, last Monday, did a self-evaluation process.” That’s great. And, being that it was a self-evaluation it may come as no great surprise that “the feedback was all very positive.” Full disclosure: not all of the feedback was from board members. There were representatives from the Pennsylvania School Board Association present.

Different times

One might assume that the news of one day or one year is much like that of another. That may be, but the writing certainly is not. A clipping from a late-1800s Warren County newspaper found by the Warren County Historical Society features this language in an account of a fatal beating of a “tramp” by “several of his companions” generally described as “a lot of worthless men.” An officerr “was obliged to waste valuable amunition while arresting one of them who tried to run away but was stopped by a bullet lodging in his worthless carcass.”

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