Now, we all know what NIMBY stands for, but you’d think, much like Newton’s Third Law predicts, there’d be some sort of equal and opposite term for when folks actually want something in their backyard. But “IWIIMBY” or “I want it in my backyard” just doesn’t have quite the same zing.
Not to fear, dear readers, I’ll come up with something better.
What made me consider this acronymic prospect is the most recent Batavia School Board meeting in which a host of Rotolo Middle School students and parents lamented the loss of their full-time orchestra teacher and pleaded with the board to reconsider.
For background purposes, as a result of an across-the-board decline in enrollment, D101 issued layoff notices to 23 teachers in March and the Rotolo Orchestra teacher was one of them.
But Houston Street, we have a problem! You know this columnist consistently commends anyone who reasonably and regularly gets involved in the process, but it always pays to understand that process before you get involved.
To wit, begging any school board to hire, retain, or fire any teacher is a fool’s errand. The only district employee who reports directly to the board is the superintendent. That’s it! And they can’t even fire him or her unless they commit some major malfeasance, or their contract is up.
(A reader correctly pointed out that the board can fire a superintendent, but then they’d have hire a new one while honoring that massive contract until it runs its course which isn’t feasible for most school districts.)
Put more simply, the board didn’t decide to lay off those teachers and they certainly can’t unilaterally decide to bring them back.
Could the board have voted to reverse course on the layoffs? Technically yes, but that would be akin to jury nullification and the odds of getting four board members to go directly against district policy sit squarely between slim and none.
What our discouraged parents and students should’ve done, and can still do, is insist upon an audience with the Superintendent and the Director of Human Resources. Right now, they’re smiling at the vast irony of the school board taking the heat for their actions. The truth is, they’re only ones who can reinstate that orchestra teacher.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the even more fascinating IWIIMBY irony.
Before we go there, let me clearly stipulate that, considering my wife is one, I never want to see any educator lose their job. It’s hard enough being a teacher without having to worry about where your next paycheck is coming from.
But without considering the merit of each departing teacher, D101 is doing exactly the right thing. Borne of previous tax hike infatuated school boards, the Chicago Collar Counties pay the highest property taxes in the nation. And every time that bi-annual tax bill arrives, like the great Emily Litella, we pound our fists on the table, curse our consarned school districts, and demand fiscal accountability!
Unless it means cutting our orchestra teacher.
Then we go all IWIIMBY on their sorry taxing butts. Everybody wants tax cuts until it means they’re the ones who have to do with less.
And the greater irony is, Rotolo Middle School sits squarely in the heart of Batavia Republicandom, and those faithful conservatives are the first ones to demand fiscal responsibility, curse the liberal school system, and disparage those overpaid teachers who get summers off.
One of my favorite friends is a centrist Republican immigration attorney. And he regularly regales me with tales of conservative clients approaching him to get papers for a nanny, a friend, or some other undocumented immigrant whom they’ve become rather fond of. But these are the very same folks who voted for Donald Trump cause he’s gonna “build that wall.”
Oddly enough, this liege loyal liberal supports D101 in holding the fiscal line because School enrollment is fading all across this great nation and tough decisions – including closing some schools – must be made. But please understand that it wasn’t the school board that made this decision.
So, don’t put this one on them!
Conservatives! I know how dangerous this kind of thing is, but I’m gonna ask you to engage in a little critical thinking and self-reflection. Before you make that next bloodthirsty call for a taxing body’s collective heads, please consider that cuts always mean someone loses their job, someone has to deal with less, and someone who can least afford it will fall through the cracks.
That’s why, when you protest an orchestra teacher being laid off, going all IWIIMBY on us doesn’t make you look very good.