Braselton News

May 7, 2008


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Column
By Kerri Testement

Boredom creeps into busy life
What do you do when you’re bored? Not just bored — but really, really bored.
It’s the kind of boredom where you find yourself checking a clock every few minutes — only to see it has moved just a few ticks forward.
It’s the kind of boredom where you find a piece of paper and jot down any kind of list floating around in your head — grocery items, bills to be paid, friends you haven’t contacted in a while, etc.
It’s the kind of boredom that seem to make time painfully slow.
And while I don’t have too many times of pure boredom (especially with a family and full-time job), I admit that they still creep into my life occasionally.
Case in point: A recent meeting that hit a lull in action. The elected officials were hammering out the legal details of a proposed ordinance — something most citizens wouldn’t care to notice.
As a reporter, I’ve been in plenty of meetings.
Sometimes there’s plenty of action in long and short meetings. Sometimes those meetings have been so contentious I’ve wondered if my recorded material would later be used as evidence in a civil or even criminal proceeding.
And then again — just like other meetings for businesses, civic groups or schools — things can get pretty boring.
So, what do you do when you’re really, really bored?
I start drawing random spirals on my notepad. I draw pathetic pictures of simple houses, complete with a chimney blowing smoke. I draw little stars across the page.
I even have found myself playing tic-tack-toe on my notepad — without a partner. I don’t know who I favor in those games — the “X” or the “O.” I’m playing defense and offense for both players. How pathetic.
Many people are in jobs with plenty of downtime. The Internet provides entertainment in those cases. There are even websites soliciting to bored employees. (Note to boss: I don’t know the addresses of these alleged websites.)
In school, I perfected the art of writing in bubble letters. It wasted plenty of time, and looked really pretty on a page.
School is also where it was easy to look busy, but still be bored. No doubt, many students have looked like they were writing a history paper, only to be secretly penning a letter to their friend. In those cases, it may not just be about boredom, but rebellion to keep things hidden from those in charge.
I’ve always been a busy person. And it seems like I keep getting busier. I guess it’s better to be bored than boring, as the saying goes.
Kerri Testement is the news editor of The Braselton News. Her e-mail address is kerri@mainstreetnews.com.

Tapping reserves risky for Barrow and Jackson BOEs
Both the Barrow and Jackson County Boards of Education are considering tapping into reserves to balance their FY09 budgets. While governments often use reserve funds during times of economic stagnation, the Barrow BOE is looking to use one-third of its reserves to cover a projected budget shortfall.
Several issues are apparently driving this process. First, the situation again points to the weaknesses of the current state QBE funding formula. School systems often don’t know until the last minute exactly what the state will fund year-to-year. That’s because both the governor’s office and state legislature have increasingly made education a funding football that gets kicked around the political field. Over the last decade, for example, state funding has decreased as a percent of the total local budget, forcing up local school taxes.
Second, the cost of transportation is hitting all school districts hard as fuel expenses surge.
Finally, the economic downturn will hit the county’s tax digest, perhaps keeping it flat for the upcoming budget. In the past few years, annual growth in the tax digest has helped local governments absorb the costs of doing business. That won’t be the case this year.
Unfortunately, there’s little the Barrow BOE can do about some of these financial problems. Unlike city and county governments, school system budgets exist under a mountain of state and federal mandates. For example, school systems can’t simply cut teachers when times get tough because the state dictates certain student-teacher ratios.
Still, for the system to draw down its reserves by $2.4 million — reserves that are already rather thin when compared to the systems $98 million budget — is troubling.
It may be time for school system leaders and patrons to sit down and make a list of priorities for the school system so that if further budget cuts become necessary, they can be done from some basis of consensus.



 

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