Brad Smith may not be the most hated man in America.
But the Ogden School District superintendent is just one more cost-cutting measure away from becoming the most despised person in Ogden -- at least since that short guy we had as mayor. (Ah, how quickly they forget.)
Smith has taken heat recently for firing the district's 20 certified librarians, eliminating the adult education program and dismissing hundreds of part-time reading coaches.
In his defense, the district is running a sizable deficit, and something's got to be done to either raise revenue or cut spending. These are serious times that demand serious answers, people. And, oddly enough, no one's bothered to ask if their serious local columnist has any of the answers. Which, by the way, he does.
After some extensive thought during commercial breaks on the "American Idol" season finale, I've got a dozen suggestions to put the Ogden School District back in the black:
1. Stop heating and lighting buildings. Energy costs are a big part of any school's budget. Tell parents to bundle up their children when they send them to school. And would it kill you to throw a flashlight in your kid's backpack?
2. Frankly, school buses are a luxury we can no longer afford. Listen, when we were their age, we had to walk five miles to school every day. Uphill. Both ways. The savings in fuel costs alone would pay for any number of administrative bonuses.
3. More school sponsorships. The younger demographics that populate our schools are highly coveted among advertisers; why not exploit it? Imagine students in a history class taking the Coca-Cola Pop Quiz, or an English teacher requiring students to turn in their Barnes & Noble Book Report.
4. Eliminate algebra classes. Contrary to what they told us back in school, in the real world, there's never any need to solve for X. Turns out, we really didn't need algebra later in life. And that goes double for the arts.
5. Two words: "Textbooks schmextbooks."
6. Cut back on janitorial supplies. You know when a kid pukes in the classroom and they sprinkle that sawdust-like substance on it? Well, they don't give that stuff away. And they may as well quit filling the soap dispensers in the bathrooms, too. You do realize kids don't actually wash their hands, right?
7. Bring back school prayer. Admittedly, this won't save any money. I just threw it in to tweak the American Civil Liberties Union types.
8. Silence of the librarians. Do we really need "certified media specialists?" By eliminating these posi-- ... oh yeah, wait ... never mind.
9. And libraries, too. Now that the district has done away with librarians, the next logical step is to ditch the libraries. Seriously, with everything at our fingertips on the Internet, who needs a bricks-and-mortar library anymore? Plus which, the schools could easily turn that space into a ...
10. Crate & Barrel. Or a Great Clips. Or any number of trendy retail spaces that could raise significant funds for the district.
11. Will work for education. Make students a partner in their learning by requiring them to take a child-labor class each semester. In one, students might assemble iPhones. In another, they produce Nike shoes. If Honduran sweatshops can make large American corporations wealthy, why can't we do the same thing here in our schools?
And finally, with a district office that already employs all sorts of assistants, executives, directors and other administrators ...
12. Do we really need a superintendent of schools?
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @Saalman.