It really is time to rethink the construction of that mega-mall school in western St. Mary.

Bids are coming in too high, and in an effort to control that, the board thinks it can pare down the school to make ends meet.

It’s been a farce from the word go. Suspicious tactics in ballot proposals, odd comings-and-goings of school system personnel to various public meetings with various odd-sounding speeches.

Bids are already $3 million over what the board expected to pay for that new school. That doesn’t include the dirt work already done out in Raintree Village west of Baldwin.

Pull the plug.

With $12 million in revenues the school system can do a lot of good with the schools we have and keep students in their communities.

I am a firm believer in community schools. This concept of industrialized education irks me terribly. Time was when communities centered around the school, church and town meeting place. Elementary school kids need to be in familiar surroundings, surrounding where family exists, familiar faces and landmarks.

Why do we continue to blindly do everything within our power to further erode communities, neighborhoods, even the home and family? We have facilities in Baldwin, Franklin, Charenton and Four Corners/Glencoe. I wish we had as many as we did prior to the school system’s boorish spat of consolidations back in the 1980s. One of those schools scheduled for closure was Centerville. In that particular case, the community came to its rescue, because their school was just that: Theirs. Same thing happened in Glencoe, just that a charter school was the result.

We’ve surrendered our schools and other community institutions far too readily. It’s time to think better of it. Fix up the schools we’ve got with that money, and make education a part of the community it serves again, not some bastion of conglomerate, corporate-induced supposed functionality.

When, by the way, did we forget that the school system not only works for us, they get their money from us, too?

Dangit, we need to stop trying to be too big for our britches around here. We’re a rural community, and we should be thankful for it. If I wanted to live in a metropolis with metropolis-scale schools, I’d move there. I don’t. I want to live in a rural community – in the country as they used to call it – where my schools are down the road, my neighbors are in the same stores I am, and people call me by name at the gas station or café. Mega-mall schools are counterproductive to that. Kids only see each other for a few hours a day, before parents and buses cart them off again. They’re not all at the same parks, riding their bikes together, drawing hopscotch squares on the sidewalk. They may not even live in the same city. How do you develop friendships that way? Childhood friendships are based on commonalties, instances of sameness, common frames of reference. Their parents need to mingle at the same school functions, they need to go to the same Christmas plays, the same graduations.

I wish we still had neighborhood schools, but we’ve already ruined that. At least we can save community schools, if we want to. If we try.

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You’ll probably be amazed and perhaps disappointed to hear this, but I have a problem with government legislating taste.

What if, for example, the government of your city, county, state or nation had decided that long hair was aesthetically distasteful and made laws against it?

What if they had banned bell-bottom jeans, flowered shirts and flip-flops?

What if your town decided to ban the attire known now as "saggy britches"?

Don’t get me wrong. I hate it. I think it’s stupid and tacky. Why anyone would want to dress that way is beyond my pea-brain’s ability to comprehend.

But if people want to dress that way, you and I are as free to despise it as they are to wear it, so long as it cannot infringe on decency. Government has no place in this. Government should not be in the business of regulating fashion.

Certainly decency rules apply, and persons can be charged under them if necessary, but let’s be honest here: Does anything "saggy britches" reveal exceed that of a thong bikini at the beach? Or even a normal bikini at the public swimming pool? A man’s brief-style swimming trunks?

You can see far worse on network television most any night of the week. That doesn’t mean it’s right, but it’s true.

Government doesn’t need to be regulating fashion. I don’t care how much you or me despise what the next guy is wearing, government does not need to be regulating it. Common decency, yes, insofar as total or even partial nudity of specific varieties…but where is that line, after all? Isn’t a bikini partial nudity? Be careful how you answer this: Even a modest bikini reveals a lot.

"Yes," you say, "but people aren’t walking down the street in a bikini or skin-tight men’s swim briefs."

Right you are! But television actress Catherine Bach coined a trade-name and a fashion craze called "Daisy Dukes" describing a certain cut of shorts that left little to the imagination on ladies, and nobody started making laws against them. One could reasonably make the same argument against hip-huggers, low-riders, halter-tops, tube-tops, male or females in muscle shirts and – horror of horrors! – men or women not wearing any undergarments at all could be considered distasteful by others and subject to government regulation. Where does it stop? Don’t think government will be reasonable…sooner or later, they’ll cross your line, if you let them get that powerful.

I’m sorry. I think they’re laughable, really, and I actually pity folks simple enough to dress that way. It’ll go away. All such silly fads do. Remember baby noonies in grown people’s mouths? Leisure suits? But government regulation? No way. We’ve got way too much government in our lives already telling us what to do.