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Pennsylvania, United States
What changes hath time wrought...mostly a different hair-color, a few wrinkles and loss of short-term memory.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Letters to the Lynch Mob: Fight the Unfair Education Cuts

After hearing about the inequitable distribution of education funding cuts I've decided to contact every legislator in Pennsylvania by email and/or snail mail. I can do that because I have the time. If you do not have the time please take a minute to write your opinion to our local elected politicians or copy and paste mine, making it your own by adding your ideas or suggestions and then deleting my name. Pass this information along to your online friends. This is democracy in action. This is what the folks in other countries are hoping to achieve.
State Senator: Mary Jo White       State House Rep.: Scott Hutchinson
email:  mwhite@pasen.gov               shutchin@pahousegop.com
       169 Capitol Building                 152 Main Capitol Building
      Senate Box 203021                   PO Box 202064
      Harrisburg, PA 17120               Harrisburg, PA 17120-2064
         814-432-4345                          814-677-6363
March 30, 2011

Dear __________________________,

This letter is to make my opinion clear on the pending state budget cuts in education. I agree that a balanced budget is a worthy goal but not at the expense of the poorest school districts, of which the schools in the district you represent are included.

It is my understanding that a certain formula was used to determine the amount of money each school district would receive in 2011-2012 based on the 2010-2011 Basic Education Funding allocation of state dollars. During this time, 2010-2011, federal stimulus monies were divvied among the PA districts with the most poverty and highest property taxes, which includes us. The state, in turn, then reduced their allocation of funding to these districts. Therefore the federal stimulus money was not additional money. It was simply replacing previously budgeted state money for these districts. Now that the federal stimulus money is no longer available the stimulus amount should not be considered as part of the state's 2010-2011 state education funding total. It is a significant difference and should be considered when determining state education budget cuts. Poorer school districts are slapped with a double blow- by 1) CUTTING funding and 2) basing these cuts on inaccurate and unfair data- in these economically challenging times.

I understand the need for frugality but the same standards should be shared equitably across the state. Please take the ethical course of action and correct this inaccurate calculation of state funding before the final approval of the state budget.

Your Name Here.

Here are a couple links that I found helpful. Copy and Paste these addresses.:
http://www.elc-pa.org/budget2011.html  -- Click on the Spreadsheet of the Statewide Education Budget Impact by District.

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/  -- If you rest your cursor on the tabs at the top a drop down list of choices will appear. Email addresses for every legislator can be found here.

I hope everyone read the article in The Derrick Corbett takes his case to the county commissioners in Tuesday March 29th's edition.
Corbett spent a lot of time explaining why he opposed taxing the natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale formation beneath Pennsylvania. It said he would like to persuade Texas-based energy companies to move their corporate headquarters to PA. ---I don't think the governor is familiar with our relatively recent Pennzoil/Quaker State fiasco in regard to relocating headquarters.  And if they DO relocate here, what's to stop them from moving again to the next state that offers tax breaks?

But this was my favorite quote in the article: " If we bring in companies like this, our revenues will come up, and (if) we control our spending...we will be able to fund education the way we want to, we will be able to take care of the poor and needy the way we want to."  So, until those companies show up the poor and needy can just suck it up and deal with it. ---This is the part of the quote I imagine he said in his head.  Wow, what can we do? Make your voice heard.

Hormonally yours,


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oil City School Board Meeting: March 28, 2011

With the PA State Budget cuts to education looming on the horizon about 50 concerned parents(me for one), teachers, taxpayers(?)attended the school board meeting hoping to hear how the (approx.)$3 million dollars- you know, I never understood the EXACT amount of money we were losing and exactly the amount of money that needed to be replaced so lets just say a few million, give or take- how the money would be replaced. We were disappointed in that respect. Not one board member seemed to be willing to outright state what they felt was negligible. I'm hoping that means that they will wait until a work session where each item can be freely and fully debated. Here are some details they were specific on:
If you were at the meeting and see some inaccuracies PLEASE email me at the above address or in the "comments" section. -Thanks.

1. There will be no school tax increase. According to Superintendent Carrico it's been 10 years since the last tax increase and they don't intend to push one through now.
2. Carrico felt they could save $400,000 in "teacher realignment." I should have asked exactly what that meant. There were some other cost-cutting measures that were spelled out that didn't appear to detrimental. But they were going to use money that had been put aside but will only be available THIS (2011-2012) school year.
3. No school district employee will be asked to take a pay cut.
4. Transportation will not be eliminated.

The following seemed to be more negotiable issues:
5. A 50% cut in money paid for school supplies.
6. A(possible) 15% cut in the Athletic Department expenses
7. A (possible) 10% cut in building/? expenses. I didn't hear clearly.

These areas were mentioned but the board did not indicate their inclination on these issues:
8. Kindergarten- Go to half-day or eliminate it entirely. I did not realize Kindergarten was paid for by the state through a block grant.***** More about Kindergarten and my personal opinion at the bottom.
9. Consolidation of schools IN Oil City. (Oakland is safe and will remain in operation!)Discussion centered on the cost of repair and upkeep of buildings.
10. Venango Technology (VoTech)- over $1 million to send (122) kids here. Now that I've typed that I wonder if that is a mistake...that seems excessive. Carrico was quick to defend the usefulness of the skills being taught there and how they lead to "lucrative" jobs. He went on to state how some of the "brightest kids" are at Tech.
11. Intermediate Unit (membership?) was $850,000. Again, I do not know all that entails. But it's cost was mentioned and I wrote it down.
12. Art, music, library was brought up by a guest. No board member initiated discussion about cuts to these programs. One board member asked my friend which she would rather: Half-day Kindergarten of cut the art program. My friend was very diplomatic in her response and stated she didn't have any children entering K. I jumped in and said I did have a child going to Kindergarten and would willingly accept a half-day if it meant maintaining an art program!That's called compromise.

Dr. Carrico said that he would be meeting with teachers and the community to reveal/discuss what the school budget/school board- now that I'm typing it, I don't know if he's looking for opinions or if he's going to spell out what steps are being taking to make the budget balance. Hmmm...if anyone knows the answer to these things please let me know.

Carrico also quoted from a study done by the Education Law Center www.elc-pa.org
(Here is the link to the page that was copied and distributed to those who wanted it- http://www.elc-pa.org/pubs/downloads%202011/KeyFacts_CorbettEdBudget.pdf ) that criticized the formula Governor Corbett's lynch mob used to determine how much each district WOULD receive from the state. In a nutshell, students in the Oil City School District will be losing $864 per student. While students in much richer districts will be losing less that $100 per student. And it's not just Oil City it is any district that received money from the federal stimulus. That money is no longer available. Here is an IMPORTANT excerpt from that document mentioned above:

13. Corbett’s cuts are largest in the poorest school districts, because of a miscalculation.
The starting point of the new budget says, “Each school district will receive an amount equal to its 2010-2011 Basic Education Funding allocation” of state dollars. The Governor overlooked the fact that $655 million in federal stimulus dollars were also allocated to districts last year through the Basic Education formula. The formula intentionally allocated the most stimulus dollars to districts with the most poverty and the highest property taxes. The state then made huge cuts in its own funding to these poor districts and made up the difference with the federal stimulus dollars. Using 2010-11 levels as the starting point for the new budget penalizes the neediest students and schools, because this starting point is much lower for the poorest school districts with the highest taxes. Governor Corbett should have picked a different starting point for determining the 2011-12 state funding levels for each school district. This error should be corrected.

This is where we need to take up the fight with our congressmen through phone calls, letters, and emails. Mary Jo White and Scott Hutchinson are our local legislators.

On a personal note, the school board has been put in a very difficult situation due to the inequity of state funding for education. They have no choice but to make fiscally responsible cuts. It's hard to make everyone happy in times of prosperity so I'm sure there will be complaints from some group/s in this time of hardship. If you intend to be a complainer please do so AFTER you have respectfully made your opinions to the board  clear.

On a PERSONAL personal note, I mentioned my feelings about Kindergarten earlier. After me, another woman voiced her concern over the parents who would have to find babysitters for kids NOT in full day Kindergarten. At first, I thought that was a valid issue. But, with more thought, no, that is NOT a valid issue. Because she's saying that full day kindergarten is simply a way to keep kids busy until their parents are available. (Having helped in a K classroom the kids did do well-thought out educational activities. Even then, I thought half-day Kindergarten would have been exactly what my daughter needed.) Now that my son, who will turn 6 this July, is headed for Kindergarten I think he would benefit from a full day. He could have started school last year but we chose to hold him back. I think ALL the K teachers at Hasson are phenomenal.  I would hope if Kindergarten does go to half-day they are able to be absorbed into other areas of the school because they are definitely some of the good ones.

I'm quoting from the ELC's document listed above: "Governor Corbett said that local schools should make up for the state funding cuts by lowering teacher pay and laying off teachers." I would LOVE to know what school district salaries he looked at to come up with that plan? I'm going to quote what a friend of mine so eloquently said, "NEVER, have i met a public school teacher who was in it for the money, because there's no money in it. so tiresome is the rhetoric spewing about underworked, overpaid teachers! by the time grading, planning, continuing education, meetings, parents-teacher conferences, attending extra-curricular events, coaching, running clubs, chaperoning dances, etc, etc, the hourly wage (not counting using their own money for supplies) falls below minimum wage, well below."
I think the Governor has/will set back education for years just because of those sentiments. It's bad enough that teachers have lost respect from much of the public due to practices beyond their control. But to have a government official MAKE it an official political view, that just infuriates me. 

I'm going to air some gripes about Hasson here because they aren't about any employee only some school practices?
1. My daughter did not go outside for recess once in almost 4 months! I cut an article from a weekly reader Sarah brought home that quoted a principal from Minnesota saying that his students go outside for recess everyday unless it's more that -15 degrees!!! Cold weather doesn't cause sickness- bacteria and viruses do.
2. Kids MUST be allowed to talk when they eat lunch. Yes, it's going to get loud when 200 kids get together. But when do they get to talk to friends? I don't like to complain unless I have a solution and the only one I can think of is open the second gym for kids to eat lunch. That's a loss of student Phys. Ed time but maybe they could GO OUTSIDE!!! I'm kidding. I just worry that noise is being equated with delinquency.
3. Showing movies is NOT a treat. This is one of my biggest pet peeves from Hasson and ALL the schools I taught at- I will bet almost every kid has access to a TV. No matter their parents income level. And I'll bet they spend plenty of time in front of it. Study upon study has shown that the more time kids sit in front of a screen the lower their achievement. If the kids earned a special treat TAKE THEM OUTSIDE AND PLAY A GAME WITH THEM!!! Plus, I THINK it's a federal crime to show movies in a group setting like a classroom- but I would hope no one would try to enforce that, at least not without a warning first .

Hormonally yours,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Last Night Laugh

Waiting for the Oil Region Ballet performance to begin I noticed my 5-year old with his pointer finger deep in his nose.
I inquired, "Would you like a Kleenex?"
He replied, "No, I got it." A brief pause before he continued, "I didn't wipe it on anything."
Hmmm, then where is it? I wondered...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Laughs Keep Coming Part 3

I remember as a child having an aversion to using public restrooms. It may have stemmed from an incident when I was about 10 at a local department store known as Westons. I had to go soooooooo bad and the restroom was out in the section between the two sets of entrance doors. So my mom sent me out but stayed inside the store where she could see me. I rushed in the door and saw some things I'd never seen in a restroom before. But never having visited public bathrooms I just figured it was something for the public, other than me. So I went into the stall and quickly relieved myself and stepped out the door when I got an instant education on what those odd contraptions were; yes, I'd gone into the men's restroom! I'll bet the guying using what I learned was a URINAL was rather surprised, too. I wish I could say this was the only time this ever happened but I cannot...See final paragraph for details.

I was not and STILL am not comfortable using public or other people's restrooms. My children don't seem to have that affliction. In fact, they both seem mildly to wildly curious about foreign bathrooms, especially at restaurants. When a Bob Evans restaurant opened locally we were pleased since both kids would rather eat breakfast foods in the evening than in the morning. Our first trip there Sarah must have been having some intestinal issues because we were IN that bathroom more than we were out. On one trip in another stall was already occupied. I'm just standing against the sink waiting for Sarah when I hear someone ralph. The sound bringing the food up is terrible but the resultant splash was just plain nauseating. I started praying Sarah would get done soon. She did not and I had to stand there listening to some poor woman continually refunding* her meal. Now at some point I'm going to start vomiting or laughing. You can imagine which one. If you can't imagine, let's just say there were no refunds for me.

I'm establishing a brief history of restroom experiences to lay the groundwork for the first day of my Senior year of high school. The only reason I would go into a restroom at school was for the sole purpose of checking my hair. (This was the Farrah Fawcett years.) So I'm fluffing my hair when I hear the loudest, longest fart I'd ever heard. (And my father was the "Pull My Finger King".) I froze mid-fluff, knowing I should clear out of there immediately. But, no, another person came in so I had to wait it out to make sure that person KNEW it wasn't me that made that sound or caused the noxious odor. It was someone I knew and not a few seconds later another atomic fart was discharged. By then I was trying so hard not to laugh I was crying- messing up my eyeliner- and my nose was running. We both got out and leaned against the wall laughing. I never did discover who was in that stall and I certainly hope I never entertain anyone in that capacity. Having a good friend who was the Fart Queen I'm not sure why this was especially funny? Maybe it was like the unknown comic who wore a paper bag over his head. It was the unknown farter.

My most recent trip into the men's room occurred in the early 90s. I was at a breakfast conference at the Bel Aire Hotel. It's the Avalon Hotel now. Having knocked back a few coffees I really needed to visit "the necessary" during our break. But being in a large dining room with a few hundred women I knew my chances at being first in line were bleak. So my girlfriend and I were going to look for some other restrooms farther away when I said, surprised, 'Look there's no line." and in I went. I came out and my friend was doubled over laughing. Excited I asked, 'what?', dying to be let in on the joke. My friend said I'd gone in the Men's Room. I said no, I saw --men when I went in but just assumed it had a w-o- before it. She said she stopped a guy from going in! It was kind of her to spare me any embarrassment because she embarrassed the heck out of me when we were leaving Andy's Pub one night and announced to everyone we passed, "She needs a pad." and pointed at me. Oh, I do miss Maryellen at times...

I know some folk are offending by this sort of humor but even today I can't NOT laugh when I hear a toot.

Hormonally yours,

*Thanks to my friend, Jamie, who used this word when describing her family's week.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Still Laughing Part 2


I've come up with a few more laugh memories. This link is to a clip from the movie "Neighbors"--- John Belushi's last movie. I could have sworn Belushi was given a dirty cereal bowl, thus proving that when we recall memories we substitute our own details (sometimes). In fact I thought Ackroyd's whole house was filthy, but again, my memory failed me. This clip made me chuckle, not howl, like the first time I saw it on the big screen in a movie theater.

I'm anxious to see if I embedded this youtube video correctly. More laugh memories later...I have to get the OK from a friend because it included her and some underwear...

Hormonally yours,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Laughs Just Keep Coming: Part 1

I have some special memories that I haven't retrieved for a while- until yesterday. My son fell off a short stool onto the floor. That in itself isn't that amusing but the fact I saw him one second and I looked away and caught just the tail end of him disappearing from view in the next second just makes me chuckle. He bumped his chin on the way down so I did pick him up (He' s five.) and comfort him (I'm not completely callous.) but not without a concerted effort to not laugh. I finally asked him if I could laugh. He gave me the evil eye. But when I explained, unabashedly howling, WHY it was funny even he giggled. This wasn't the first time he's gone down and I found myself restraining prolonged laughter remembering...

We were at the grocery store, in the cereal aisle, and Jacob was hanging on the side of the cart. I don't know if he just lost his grip and footing at the same time but he did a 360 and fell out of sight. It was bad enough that I saw it but an elderly lady came by, asked if he was OK and SHE chuckled about how he went down so quickly. He has this, almost ballet-ic, grace when he stumbles. --Oh, I still laugh when I consider these "now you see hims, now you don't." These memories were playing in my head when I went to bed last night. Instead of sleeping I was trying to remember some other situations that STILL make me laugh.

The first one that came to mind happened a LONG time ago (late 70s/early 80s?), in church. Father Weible. By all accounts Father was a very nice man but a bit challenged by personal hygiene practices. We were up close and personal with Father this Saturday night since my mother always claimed the third seat from the front for her family. So there we were right under Father Weible's nose as he prepared to begin his sermon. He took his glasses out of his pocket, unfolded them and positioned them on his face. He did this carefully because HIS GLASSES ONLY HAD ONE LEG!!!!!! Now when you are 12, or so, this is majorly funny. Because glasses then were made out of glass and heavy so they tilted to one side. He wouldn't adjust them, either. They just remained cock-eyed. And because you are supposed to be quiet in church all conditions were met for severe cramping from holding in laughter. I still have some pretty good laughs about this so keeping them contained back then must have required an abdominal workout. I remember ducking down frequently, like we'd dropped something, to mask snickers. I think Father has passed on but he'll never be forgotten.

I laughed about this when I recalled it last night, now it only makes me smile: It's easy to get the giggles at church because, well, you're not supposed to do it! I remember we were sitting behind a family with some small children and small children like to check out the congregation behind them when they're at church. So while we were kneeling, this little boy turns completely around to face us and I look down at his feet and he has these enormous rubber galoshes (remember this would be the 70s) ON THE WRONG FEET! The fact that this kid was so small and the boots were so big and OBVIOUSLY on the wrong feet made it just hilarious. Luckily, when you're kneeling it's easy to hide you face in your hands. But unlike the glasses in the story above which were stashed back in Father's pocket I had to look at those boots for the rest of Mass!

I've changed my mind, I still laugh out loud about that one, too. Here's another gut-buster I still remember so perfectly...

I worked at a Holiday Inn as a restaurant hostess in the late 80s. From my desk I could see down the hall past the bar entrance to the restrooms. One slow evening I was straightening the items on my desk when I heard some noise down the hall and I peered toward the restroom when I saw a woman come out with the bottom of her skirt shoved in the waistband of her hose!!! I started to run down the hall to tell her but halfway there I collapsed into giggles and couldn't stop. I didn't want to embarrass her. In fact my mission had originally been to try and SPARE her embarrassment. I remember going directly into the kitchen to share this vision. No one could understand what I was saying because I was laughing so hard. I finally made myself understood but not before half the kitchen was in hysterics. It's funny how contagious hilarity is.

Oh, how good intentions go out the door when a psycho sense of humor strikes.

This seems awfully long so I'm going to have to do this in installments. Then if my mind starts to fail me, even more so than it is, I'll have a record of the things that made me laugh.

Hormonally yours,

25 Annoying Things About Me

I posted this May 2009 in the Notes section of my Facebook page. I did it after my dear friend had posted HER 25 "Annoying Things." We both find it quite amusing when people fall (without injury) or trip- #2. I had an attack of #18 while I was in bed last night. I had just turned off the light and I kept envisioning my son doing #2 (below) earlier in the day...this is how the above blog came about...

1. I am a rubbernecker.

2. I find it funny when people (including me) trip and/or fall.

3. I call my husband "idiot" under my breath.

4. All beds must be made.

5. My leftovers don't always make it to the refrigerator in a timely manner.

6. I must be the first to read the newspaper. I hate it when the pages are misaligned.

7. I'm one egg carton away from being an official pack rat.

8. I try to get my kids to say things for my own amusement. Right now we're working on "Roger that" whenever I ask Jacob to do something. Previously, it was "one, two, shooby dooby doo" while playing Candyland. Of course he had to sing it or I wouldn't take my turn.

9. I keep clothes I MAY fit into again. Even if they're 20 years old!

10. I nitpick others' proofreading skills even though mine are average at best.

11. I make one-of-a-kind jewelry from teeth and toenails. (I have a photo if interested!)

12. I LOVE our van. (I know some people probably find THAT annoying!) BUT I seem to bump in to a lot of things i.e. my mother-in-law's car...twice, a truck, the support beam in our garage...to name a few.

13. I chat with the cashier when I'm checking out causing delays for the delightful people behind me.

14. If there is something not right with my meal at the restaurant I always tell the waiter...I always preface it with, "I know it's not your fault..." and hope for the best.

15. I don't watch a lot of TV so when I do watch (The Big Bang Theory) I am very cranky if I'm disturbed.

16. I like to discuss things I've eaten and then encourage others to try these things.

17. I chew or bite the dry skin around my fingernails when I'm anxious.

18. I'll laugh out loud about things I heard or saw hours, days, weeks, years ago.

19. I carry on conversations with my cats: I provide their responses.

20. I can't discuss Harry Potter with people who have only seen the movies.

21. I have a strange fascination with the innards of organisms. I love those medical shows where they show the surgery.

22. I reuse the same knife for a variety of jobs.

23. I wash and reuse plastic ziploc bags.

24. Flushing the toilet in the middle of the night sounds so loud, so I don't. That means Tim wakes to a nice bowl of pee before work every morning.

25. I don't understand why people get so upset when their sports team loses. Honestly, unless you were betting on the game how does it affect your life??? The annoying part is I tell them that.