Our cost-conscious head has launched another initiative that - like many previous ones - has cost more than it saves. Having announced she would stop printing the weekly digest of SMT meetings and all staff circulars, as we "could all read the same information that I'm posting through Glow", consumption of paper has apparently doubled.
An audit trail carried out by Mr Muir has revealed that over 84 per cent of staff continue to print out the materials for their personal use - and as printer settings vary across departments, most staff are using two sheets to print exactly the same information that was previously condensed into one!
Mrs Slater's response was to issue a prohibition order on such profligacy - and on photocopying until Christmas. It remains to see how she will police the former, but the latter looks as if it will be strictly enforced by Mrs McKenzie and her office staff, for whom such an offer always brings out their totalitarian leanings.
The English department is out of printer ink, and no replacement cartridges can be found.
"Sorry, Morris," said Madeleine Nichol, our faculty head this morning, as I explained that I wanted to print out some poetry stimulus material for 2N. "We've no money for new ones. You'll just have to project the poem on the interactive whiteboard."
"But the whole point of the exercise is to cut up the poem into different physical segments and paste them on to wall displays," I argued, before remembering a more forceful argument. "And anyway, my classroom projector's waiting for a bulb replacement - any idea when it's coming?" I challenged angrily.
"It should be here by next week," she explained, "except it won't be a bulb replacement. You're getting a new projector."
"What?" I queried. "But I just need a new bulb."
"I know," she conceded, "but apparently the cost of a new bulb is 30 per cent higher than getting a new projector with a bulb already fitted."
Incredible. In fact, so incensed have I become that I have written a letter to the Parkland Gazette, expressing outrage at the appalling cuts to education budgets, not to mention the above inefficiencies. Although acknowledging that the global financial crisis has affected everyone, I made clear my opinion that "education budgets across the country have been adversely and unfairly targeted as a result of the Cosla concordat, which has left schools, their teachers and their pupils the victims of a "double whammy" whereby money meant for them has been channelled into every other conceivable area of council spending, thereby betraying an entire generation of schoolchildren.
"Furthermore," I added, "it's clear that although educational front-line spending has hit new historical lows in virtually all authorities, there are some - such as the one in which I teach - where the education department lacks either the will or ability to fight its corner and claim its due needs for education spending. It is time parents made their voices heard and let their councils know how they feel about the damage to their children's education!"
Obviously, I asked for the letter to remain anonymous.
I have breached the copying ban! I stole into the photocopying room this morning to run off 30 copies of 2N's poem. Alas, I was caught by Mrs McKenzie, who charged in just as I neared the end of my illicit activities.
"How did you start that machine without the code?" she demanded. I made an excuse about coming into the room just after the machine had been used by one of her staff for an administrative job that was clearly far more important than the education of our pupils, and she bristled visibly.
"Are you trying to be sarcastic, Mr Simpson?" she said, folding her arms and drawing herself up to her full five feet and two inches.
I held out my palms in silent supplication, picked up my copies and hurried away. Needless to say, I had actually found the code in its secret location, pasted above the copier and disguised by Mrs McKenzie as the Facilities Support Agency's telephone number. I hadn't the heart to tell her that not many telephone numbers have alphanumeric combinations .
Mrs Slater was at a heads' meeting this morning. It seems she got back at 1.30pm, visibly shaken, and went straight to her office.
She emerged 10 minutes later, ashen-faced, and demanded the keys of the photocopying room from Mrs McKenzie, after which she locked the door of said chamber and retreated to her office, not to be seen again until close of play.
Kevin Muir was the only person who gained access to her inner sanctum this afternoon, and it was he who explained her actions to curious staff at 3.30pm.
"She's just seen the budgets for 2010, folks," he explained. "If you thought this year was bad, wait until next . ".
The Parkland Gazette has printed my bloody name on that letter! The first I knew of it was a phone call that interrupted my Higher class, and was put through to me with barely concealed pleasure by Mrs McKenzie, who explained that a "senior education official wants to speak with you - he sounds rather cross".
This proved to be something of an understatement, as Michael Doherty made plain his chagrin.
"Could I ask you, Mr Simpson," he began, "to check out the details at the top of your salary slip? You'll find it has the council's name there, and in criticising the council in public, as you've done, you're in breach of your conditions of employment. Have you anything to say?"
I opened my mouth, closed it, then opened it again. "Hello? Hello? Is there anybody there?" I shouted. "Hello? Who's there?"
Then I put my hand on the receiver cradle and cut the connection. In the circumstances, it seemed the best thing to do.