Battle Ground, Washington

Whew. The two September ballot measures that had to pass to avoid any more cuts to education made it through by roughly 60-40 margins. That’s a bummer if you’re a smoker for one, and the conversion of an endowment fund into a rainy day fund (and the subsequent withdrawal of $150 million) is a downer, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Now as long as the income tax measure in January passes, we’ll scrape through this year (and the next two) without too much harm done. Unless of course you’re one of the poor high school shmoes in a class of 35+ students. I think the State of Oregon owes you an apology.

This plays out in Salem-Keizer in the form of larger class sizes, sure, but it’s also hampered teachers. You wouldn’t believe Erin’s “copy budget,” the number of photocopies she’s allowed to make during a school year. It’s so small now that I’ve told her to just go to Kinko’s, get what she needs, and we’ll eat the cost. Would you believe the school district has even told teachers not to use staples or collate copies because of the added cost? No, I have no idea how a machine that automatically collates papers is more expensive to run in that mode than in unsorted mode. Clearly, I’m not on par with the intelligencia in the Salem-Keizer administration.

As for teachers, this has been a bad year to be in contract negotiations. They’ve settled for a 2 percent annual raise (notably under the rate of inflation, so we’re actually losing earning power as the years go by) and a $75 increase in school district payments toward health care. If you know even the slightest about health care cost increases in the past few years you’ll suspect, as I do, that this will also prove insufficient to keep up with the cost of living. But at the end of the day, what ya gonna do? Oregon stares at a $482 million deficit, and I think you just do the best you can with it. In that light a 2 percent “increase” and $75 in health care doesn’t sound so bad. And if the economy picks up in the next few years, perhaps the next contract can make up for some of this. Whoever said you don’t go into teaching for the money wasn’t kidding.

Dave stopped by yesterday on his way to a pharmcist dinner looking tanned, rested, and ready to rumble. We’ve been debating playing some tennis or raquetball, and I dare say we’ll probably give it a go here one of these days. I’ve only played a couple games of tennis in the last 10 years and no raquetball, while Dave’s situation is approximately reversed. Given that the rains will soon be upon us, I’ll bet we give raquetball a go before we do the tennis. Either way, though, it’ll be good to run around. (By the way, the best thing about raquetball? If you get mad at your opponent you can peg him in the back with the ball, and it’s a “do over.” Hehe.)

We’re in the midst of week six, and Erin’s spent much of it exhausted. Hey, you try building a life support system for a kid (aka the placenta) and see how you feel. The good news is that there’s been virtually no morning sickness up to this point, and so far as I can tell (which ain’t very far) things are proceding nicely. We’ve got our first doctor’s visit on September 27, so we’ll get the official word then, but I assume it’s all going well.

On that same topic, thank you to everybody who’s written or called with congratulations. We’ve appreciated your enthusiasm.