Woodshop is for sissies: Here’s a quick way to lay off 17 teachers, save $695,000 and send pre-teens home crying: Get rid of junior-high electives.

The Chico Unified School District has tallied how the numbers would play out if the Board of Trustees takes Superintendent Scott Brown up on one of his ideas to help make up a $4 million budget shortfall over the next two years.

If he’s not just bluffing to freak everyone out, Chico’s three junior highs would go to a five-period day and gut electives programs. The people teaching them would be shifted to core subject classroom jobs, if they have seniority, bumping out teachers lower on the totem pole.

On the chopping block are a full-time librarian, the equivalent of 1.8 activities directors, 2.6 music teachers, .4 of a drama teacher (being .4, that person can probably play only bit parts anyway), three art teachers, one industrial-technology teacher, 2.4 business/computers teachers (that should settle the Mac vs. PC debate), .2 of a broadcast teacher, two health teachers (hey, they can learn it on the streets like we did), two home economics teachers and .6 of a Spanish teacher.

High praise: Hurray for President Bush! (That’s right, you read it here—after three years of Bush-bashing, it almost hurts to announce that Dubya has finally taken at least one step toward actually becoming a “compassionate conservative.”) The Butte County Superior Court recently praised Bush for proposing to increase funding for the nation’s drug courts by $30 million next fiscal year. Drug courts are the one bright spot in today’s revolving-door justice system because they force addicted criminals to clean up and get help instead of sending them to prison. It is estimated that for every 100 defendants who enter Drug Court instead of traditional court, Butte County will save $200,000 on incarceration and other costs.

In a Superior Court press release, Judge Karen Freeman-Wilson, head of the National Association for Drug Court Professionals, stated that Bush “understands the need for both prevention and treatment.” Maybe that’s because he was once a drunk himself. (Aww, that’s better.)

Furloughs flop: Some county workers have rejected a plan that Butte County CAO Paul McIntosh was counting on to reduce payroll costs. The workers reportedly didn’t like the idea of having to take five days off over the last five months of this fiscal year. McIntosh is trying to plug an estimated $9.2 million hole in the county general fund that he and other county leaders say is a result of the state’s fiscal crisis.

In dealing with the county’s nine bargaining units (unions, essentially), McIntosh had hoped to “provide paid time off in exchange for a temporary reduction in salary and shifting to a four [day], nine [hours per day] work week.” According to an e-mail McIntosh sent out, the management unit was OK with the plan, but the correctional officers balked. McIntosh’s e-mail went on to imply that county workers should go see the movie The Miracle, which tells the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympics hockey team, for tips on how Butte County can work together as a team.