BUDGET TRUMPS SECURITY: After all the to-do about beefing up security at airports, the Transportation Safety Administration is laying off 3,000 of the newly hired screeners nationwide. At the Chico Municipal Airport, six of the 16 screener positions will go.

Guess we’re safe now.

NEENER NEENER NEENER: Are trustees playing schoolyard games or just doing their math homework? The Chico Unified School District board debated last week how to cut $2.3 to $2.6 million from the 2003-04 budget and, pending a final decision, decided to pass on cutting elementary music and the teen parents’ nurse this year. Superintendent Scott Brown and the rest of what Trustee Steve O’Bryan called the district’s “brain trust” were directed to come up with more ideas, including an expansion of his “fair share reductions” concept.

Board President Rick Anderson opened the discussion by hinting, “We have the power to maintain our programs.” Trustee Anthony Watts was blunter: If the district were a company and he was CEO, he said, “I would go to my employees and say, ‘Folks, we’re in a crisis.’” That he can’t, he said, is “shameful.” The last time trustees talked contracts away from the negotiations table they were busted legally, so at the April 30 meeting unions were referred to obliquely as “folks.” The dance continued until, toward the end of the meeting, one guy came up to the microphone and asked: “I’m just wondering if the teachers have been approached as far as making a temporary reduction in salary.” Go to the head of the class. You get the Missed the Subtext award.

PICTURE THIS: If Marsh Junior High parents can sustain the quality of and commitment to taking their own school portraits, Lifetouch had best watch its back.

The first round of spring portraits are now being sorted by volunteers, who will take the digital images to Costco for printing at prices ranging from $6 to $32 per package—much less than the national business charges. That’s resulted in nearly 80 percent of students, as opposed to 50 percent, ordering photos, said Principal Jeff Sloan, who came up with the idea. The parents ran with it, with school board approval, and have offered to help other campuses get started with the same type of fund-raiser.

The students went to a field near the school and posed in front of fences, flowers and trees. “The weather was perfect,” said Miriam King’ori, mother of Will. “It went pretty smoothly.”