Amy and I went to the very sparsely attended Neighborhood Night at Rocky Hill Elementary last night. Amy spread her things out all over the floor and proceeded to tear pictures out of magazines and glue them on other pictures to create funny effects. It was sweet, but loud and messy. The yummy mummies grouped together in their matching pastel colored sweater sets while I sat, in my jeans and birks, where I could quickly exit if Amy had a problem. Don’t misunderstand and think I dislike the yummies. I would like to be part of their club, but I’m not beautiful or wealthy enough.
The mayor was very low-key with the audience. He began the evening by trying to joke about his administration’s daily presence on the front page of the local paper. I guess that even politicians heed the celebrity “all publicity is good” belief. Our schools need more money was the recurring theme of the evening. Hints at a property tax increase were made while a state income tax question by one of the socially active seniors in the room was laughingly dismissed. The school’s principal made comments about the difference in pay compared to nearby Oak Ridge and I made a mental note not to be surprised when the principal leaves the school in the next year or two. The yummies expressed their concern about teachers’ low salaries and I quietly nodded my head in agreement.
Making our schools more environmentally friendly and energy efficient was a fairly lengthy discussion. One person complained that the lights in the gym looked wasteful and suggested CFL bulbs. Another person scoffed and said those “new bulbs are full of poisonous Mercury” before bragging that she threw them all in the trash can when she found out they are dangerous. She even went so far as to say that the fact that they required “special” disposal just proved they were dangerous and that’s why she didn’t do anything special except put them in her trash can. I was a little numb at the stupidity of that conversation and had trouble focusing on the Mayor’s attempts to redirect the conversation to a project with Siemens to evaluate our schools’ energy usage. My school board rep talked about paying schools to use less energy.
A man from the neighborhood explained his repeated efforts to get erosion damage to the bridge which families use daily to access the school repaired. A good faith promise was made by one of the Mayor’s staff members to expedite progress on the repair. My school board member was urged by the Mayor to seek a referendum that would affect the school funding process. My board member started out with an explanation of the funding stream and then he made an offhand remark that he could be elected without the support of parents. While I’m sure he only intended that to be a reference to the statistics that there are more voting seniors than younger people, it was a Freudian slip that revealed his rational for frequent glib, condescending remarks to parents.
The formal part of the meeting ended, but the Mayor and most of the other elected officials remained in the room for quite some time so that people could approach them individually for further questions or discussion. I don’t know how they would have managed face time so easily if there had been a decent turnout. I used the time to peel Amy’s glue dots off the gym floor. “I didn’t put them there Mommy. They did it themselves.”