Living in the past

This past week’s Sound Off section included a submission from a citizen who had doubts about supporting the upcoming school bond because of the actions of individuals associated with the school district. I read the Sound Off a number of times, wondering if I should run it as it was, decline it or include it with an editor’s note.

As it turned out I did approve it and included an editor’s note that addressed the idea of living in the past verses looking forward to the future. I’m sure that in each of our lives we have had experiences where something happened that caused us pain, anguish, disappointment, anger or any one of dozens more emotions that affected us.

For anyone that has been hurt it is often difficult to turn off our natural response to be angry at someone that has harmed us, but I would suggest it is nearly impossible to turn off our disdain of an organization that has harmed us.

There is no doubt that over the years the Cassia School District has been neglectful, maybe even irresponsible with some of the decisions they have been entrusted with making. This is not to say that any monies were absconded or spent in a dishonest manner, rather, there was maybe too much trust put into the hands of someone in a position of trust. Over the twenty-three years I have lived in this community I have heard a nearly constant hum of disapproval about nearly everything the school district has done.

When I say “The School District” I’m not really attacking any one in particular, I’m just lobbing a verbal grenade into the vicinity of the elected members of the school board who have been charged with making important decisions. Our former school superintendent, Galen Smyer, is often targeted because he was the man at the top, but I would suggest that with matters of finance and policy it is the school board who are charged with making all those decisions.

How ironic it is that when a school board position comes open, critics of the district run for the woods, wanting no part of the difficult job of managing something as complicated and important as a school district. I think you would have to be a saint or an idiot to put your name on the ballot as a member of the school board, and I’m certain that if you are opposed to the district asking for voters to support a bond you think the school board are idiots. If you are generous and know how important the education of our youth is, you likely understand that the five members of the school board are closer to the saint category as anything else.

I think back to 2008 when one of my younger brothers took a bath in the stock market. He is a bachelor who has never married, a chemical engineer by trade, and generally a person that looks to the future. Like the rest of us, he took a beating in his stock portfolio when the tech bubble popped. Most of us cringed but knew that the market is constantly changing and occasionally has painful corrections. His reaction was to swear off investments in his 401k, electing instead to put all his money in a passbook savings account. I’m sure he has a bundle of money languishing at two-tenths of one percent interest. We try to convince him he’s making a mistake but he chooses to live in the past, forever furious that he lost money in the stock market.

Many of Mini-Cassia’s voters are in a similar quandary. They are angry about decisions five members of the school board made as far back as twenty-five years ago. They are mad about abandoning the old Burley High School which they were told was simply unusable. The rest of us freaked out when CSI slid into the building with glee at the opportunity to make a few improvements and end up with a jewel they will benefit from for decades. I would suggest it is akin to someone buying a new car because their old car ran out of gas. The opportunist simply fills it with fuel and enjoys the providence that went his way.

I would ask you to remember that there isn’t a single person on todays school board that had any part in the decision to abandon the old high school, yet many want to punish our new school board for something they had no part in. I wouldn’t be credible if I didn’t acknowledge that the current school board was at least partially responsible for some of the missteps from our most recent bond. For those who were guilty of putting too much trust in an architect, I can tell you that every one of them would fall on their sword if they thought it would change anything – but it wouldn’t.

When we spend all our time in the past, we are in essence driving our car by only looking in the rear-view mirror. Every one of us knows that would be a disaster, so why don’t we acknowledge such and turn our eyes to the future. Will it cost us a little of money as property owners? Sure, but what can we get in life without spending a little money for the future?

To all who can’t let go – write down everything you are angry about with regard to our schools, put the list in a bottle and toss it into the Snake River. You’ll have some sense of freedom for having dispatched your anger, then go to work studying the levy plans in your school district. If you understand the needs you will at lease go to the polls informed instead of angry. Our kids thank you.

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