Falling on a Sword

Falling on a sword: So, Dallas Independent School District announces last week that—whoopsie daisy—it inadvertently blew its 2007-'08 budget by $64 million. The school board president, Jack Lowe, was very apologetic about it. "I'm the member of the board with the most business experience," he told the Dallas Observer blog Unfair Park. "I am used to dealing with big numbers. I should have seen this coming, and I didn't do it. Shame on me."

Somehow, that didn't seem quite adequate. We aren't looking for anyone to draw a sword across his belly, but shouldn't the trustees who failed so miserably at keeping watch on our money quit? A mass resignation by the nine trustees might go a long way toward restoring faith in a district perpetually rocked by financial mismanagement.

Ha-ha-ha! Snort. Gasp. Wheeze. Sorry, sometimes we break ourselves up.

We stopped laughing and called Lowe to put the question to him: Ever think about quitting?

"I actually considered that but decided that I can't help the situation by doing that," he said. "I still should have smelled a rat, and I didn't, and I feel real bad about it, but I don't think quitting is going to help."

And what would happen if the trustees did resign as a point of honor? "What's the assurance that whoever replaces us will be better?" Lowe asked. "One of the problems is a busy person can't [do all that the trustees' jobs entail], and you don't want anybody with nothing else to do oversee the school board."

That suggests a rather low opinion of democratic government. Not necessarily wrong, but low. So, should we stick with people of demonstrated incompetence on the school board, or roll the dice with a new slate? Hmm...only 64 million simoleons, you say? You know, maybe it's not that hot here in the frying pan.

But what about Superintendent Michael "Teflon" Hinojosa, a man who apparently would have to get caught knocking over a liquor store to put his job in jeopardy? He's presumably a professional and was certainly a bit slow out the chute identifying the spending problems, we pointed out to Lowe. Academics are improving at the district, he replied, and changing management now would jeopardize that momentum. So Hinojosa doesn't seem to be going anywhere, unlike some of the teachers who, one supposes, had a hand in building that momentum too.

Here's hoping the big mo isn't carrying us off a cliff. Academic performance is rising, and the money's running short. You know the name of that tune. It's called the "Higher Taxes Blues."

 
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