Not a thank you

Contract talks will start soon and one of the last Duluth School Board members to be an active negotiator sent this email to the School Board today. I take his point:

Board Members,

This subject is the most important item you vote on, since it represents about 80% of the District’s budget. The time has come for a great deal of knowledge & understanding by members to support students and taxpayers vs union and administration. To me the District’s financial crisis started at the regular board meeting on 7/20/10 which included the need for approval of the teachers contract for 7/1/11 to 6/30/13 by the administration and board chair. Member Glass ask administration what the costs of this new contract was and was told they could not tell him until they voted on the contract. Three board members objected to the lack of transparency and costs information and wanted to get a legal opinion with motion to table failed 4 to 3. The board then voted 4 to 3 to approve the contract almost a year in advance of its term without knowledge of costs or funding. My estimates of the total costs of that contract was $2.5 million.

I am asking every member to please read the current contract prior to voting on a new one. The District can not continue without an expert negotiator at the table with member at all times. In my opinion since 2010 the District has not come close to any benefits to match given employees. As a former board member and chairman of the negotiations committee I had an expert attorney and Asst. Supt. Business Services with me at the table at every meeting. I then had 2 other members of the committee to review contract before the total board had the opportunity to vote after knowing the costs.

I get upset when I read insurance is projected to increase $600,000 without any question. The District can not continue to pay all the various insurance costs. I look at Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA)’s which the District gave employees 1/1/2010 without any benefits to students and taxpayers. The District contributes 100% of the single and family maximum out of pocket expenses for medical and prescription drugs which started at $1,900 single and $3,800 family. I have yet to find anyone having this benefit. The board should not continue with percentages for insurance benefits. Currently every increase generally is paid by the District each year & the District needs to go with a fixed dollar amount. How does the District justify paying for a single employee’s insurance annually $10,272 and family employee $20,582?

The District must consider major changes to their negotiations to survive in my opinion from all benefits to lowering or eliminating steps and seniority increments. The District can not continue to pay all the increases each year because it is not sustainable. Any questions please contact me.

Sincerely,

Richard Paulson

And Art Johnston wrote this pointed reply. By the way, I am pretty sure the Attorney who negotiated for ISD 709 and who approved telling the Board to keep the public ignorant of the contract’s costs is the same cussed lawyer who didn’t protect my right to sit in on negotiations three years ago.

Art Johnston
10:21 AM (3 hours ago)

to Richard, schoolboard
Thank you Rich, for your comments and recollection of what happened in the past.

Your recollection is correct in that we [were] told, by the administration, that we could not talk about the cost of the contract, until after it was approved, because it was “proprietary”. I strongly objected to that and used MSBA statements that the price of the contract MUST be told to the public before we vote on it.

Members were reprimanded by the administration about even trying to talk about the contract price. The former administration’s reasoning was obvious flawed and likely illegal, but that never stopped the previous administration.

This time around, all of the information will be fully disclosed to the public before the vote.

–ART

Thank you’s

Years ago I attended some session during which a presenter made a good suggestion. She warned her listeners that it was easy to get discouraged and she suggested that we all collect thank yous and such. She thought that when we got down we could look in the old thank yous and remind ourselves that we weren’t such bad folks.

Until I got on the School Board in 1996 my little sunshine folder wasn’t very big. Then I started reading to classrooms.

I haven’t really looked at this box closely but last night I spread all the thank yous out on my office floor to make a little campaign video for a campaign webpage.

I don’t know if it will be ready before I fly off to Florida in a couple days to wish my Father-in-law a happy 90th birthday but it brought back a lot of nice memories. One of my thank yous was in braille.

Darwin, Einstein, Archimedes…

…Save the Earth and eat your wheaties!

That was my chant at today’s Duluth Earth Day/Science day march.

I only shouted it once but even my wife and daughter laughed.

This was my third march in a year since Trump’s election – the third in fact since Vietnam. It was a lovely day for the 1200 marchers. I took a couple of cell phone pics.

This post is about my first march since Vietnam.

The second March was January 27th’s Woman’s March.

The ISD 709 demographics meeting

I just listened to the meeting yesterday about Demographics. I have some catching up to do because I missed the first half hour. These are dry meetings but already on youtube there have been 45 viewings. Praise be to Art Johnston for pushing the school board to video these meetings to make them available to the public.

Rob S. Schwarz, AICP, of RSP is quizzed about the plans he might help Duluth’s schools design after their demographic study. Mr. Schwarz begins by talking about the Cedar Rapids, IA, experience and urges us to google RSP’s work there while warning us about “fake news.” He proceeds to say that RSP would never encourage a city to do anything as preposterous as build 13 new schools in a five year time period.

I was among those who let loose an involuntary chuckle because that’s just what Duluth did with the Red Plan. Too bad we didn’t have RSP advising us.

Closing schools? Rehabbing schools? Shifting boundaries?

I missed the first portion of yesterday’s Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting with the demographers we hired to map out the future needs of our schools. Alanna Oswald tried to protect me from showing up late yet again but once again I had the phone on mute. I quickly scanned the handout I was given and was intrigued by one glaring bit of information. Of all our newly fixed up schools only one, Congdon elementary, could expect future enrollment growth over the next ten years. “Well,” I thought to myself, “The parents and teachers have been begging the Board to change their boundaries for the last three “Think Kids” meetings.” I wish we had done this a couple years ago.

When I suggested that we could change the Congdon boundaries by ourselves now and skip making any further payments to the demographers for a year’s worth of community meetings some of my colleagues were appalled. The defenders of the “process” rolled out the big guns. Why we needed community involvement. (three years of Think Kids meetings evidently didn’t count) – If we tampered with even one school’s boundary we would cause a domino effect just like in Vietnam and all the adjoining school boundaries would have to be tinkered with (nevermind that all the other schools were predicted to lose students over the next decade and have plenty of room for reboundaried kids) Also, nevermind that we could do this now and grandfather in existing families and let them stay at Congdon…….NO, NO, NO…….we had to delay decision making for another year. No one seemed to know how much we would pay these consultants for a year’s worth of meetings but Alanna Oswald sent them to me last night. We would pay another $31,000 or as I think of these expenses one-third-of-a-teacher.

I also missed one big headline from the beginning of the meeting. Alanna told me it was suggested that our declining enrollment might necessitate closing one of our existing elementary schools. Lakewood was a likely candidate. Golly, what a testament to the demographers of the Red Plan!!!!

After having this COW I hustled down to Congdon Elementary where 85 folks were assembled to tell us how overcrowded their school is. I don’t think the delay pitch went over very well with them. Here’s the DNT story about that meeting.

And here’s the DNT story about our demographer COW with my suggestion that we try to entice students to our western schools by letting them have more of the Compensatory Education money that they are entitled to. That fits into the spirit of the law rather than letting our District spend poor kids funding on rich kid’s schools.

And finally, our plans for Rockridge resulted in my getting a call from the Real Estate expert who valued our facilities for the Red Planners. He wondered why we were paying rent to use another school’s building – the old Cobb School that we sold to Woodland Hills twenty years ago. I had no ready answer for him. Then he asked if we were going to set up an amortization schedule and make certain we would have Woodland Hills rent the Rockridge facility at a rate which would pay off what it would cost us to fix Rockridge up. I explained that we don’t know how much it will cost to fix up Rockridge yet. We are paying experts one-and-a-half-teachers to estimate those costs before we agree to fix Rockridge, however the current guesstimate for fixing it stands at twenty-five teachers. I didn’t think to mention that we might not bond for this. We might pay for it out of our capital costs and general fund. General Fund????? Yup, that’s being researched even as I type this. More classroom dollars will go for rehabbing old buildings.

When the Congdon parents asked if we were trying to come up with innovative ways of educating kids with our fewer dollars I pointed out that we have fewer teachers (and the larger classes that they deplore) because: 1) The Red Plan takes $3.3 million (34 teachers) out of our General Fund for debt repayment annually and no experts have come up with a plan for us to restructure this debt so that we could return this money (and 34 teachers) back to our classrooms. And 2 our unhappy voters have only authorized a pitifully small $1.8 million referendum annually (14 teacher’s worth). When I told the Congdon crowd we had the ability to offer voters a referendum for two or three times that amount the Superintendent explained that my calculations were an oversimplification. (One I got from him I might add)

I’ve put in a call to our new CFO to find out about the Rockridge financial mechanics. I’ll report back to the realtor when I get that straightened out. I may even share it with my eight loyal readers. In the meantime I’m going to swim a few laps to work off my frustrations before I head over to serve food at the Damiano Center.

an email re: the last school board meeting

To All School Board Members,

At the regular school board meeting of April 18th there was a very large audience of Denfeld parents, students, teachers and principal Sconers. They were in support of the Denfeld community who is demanding equity . They have been asking the board and Mr. Gronseth for 3 years to have equity with East High School and it has fallen on deaf ears.

Just prior the public speaking portion of the meeting started I saw Mr. Gronseth talking quietly with chair Kirby and before the audience participation portion of the meeting began chair Kirby asked the audience to hold their applause because it disrupted other speakers. I believe that Mr. Gronseth didn’t want the viewing public to see the huge support that the Denfeld community has. A parent from East also spoke to the fact that the Denfeld students are being short changed and the East community is in full support of having this change next fall. She had a petition of over 70 parent signatures to see that change has to come.

The other very interesting aspect of the night were the East Middle School Science class students who presented at a competition and won awards for their excellent work. The children shall lead, the two students study on rubber mulch proved that the mulch is harmful to living organisms. Thus harmful to children. The board should remove the rubber mulch from all playgrounds in the district that are using this harmful substance and replace it with wood chips like the Congdon Park School has.

Thank you

And my reply:

Hi xxxx,

Thanks for your thoughts.

I agree that Denfeld has been short changed in recent years although it seems more inadvertent than purposeful and not unlike that poor frog put in a pot of cold water that turns to boiling.

I think its fair to conclude that Chair Kirby was anticipating some demonstrations in response to Denfeld speakers and his comments weren’t uncalled for. However, his call was heeded from the outset which had one unfortunate result. The crowd did not applaud the wonderful achievements of the students whose work was highlighted at the beginning of the meeting.

In fact, the Superintendent and I exchanged a little quiet small talk about that unfortunate non applauding for the students ourselves after it was too late to remedy the situation.

As for me, I don’t mind applause from the public even when it demonstrates dissatisfaction with the School Board. I’d rather hear it at a meeting than experience it when running for reelection. It gives me time to mend my ways.

As to the mulch. I agree.

Harry Welty

Ripped (off) from the headlines

I twitted Wrenshall a couple posts ago so this post might be viewed as excessive harassment which I don’t mean to inflict. However, that post jogged the memory of an omniscient friend who sent me this clipping of the small unwitting part Wrenshall played 56 years ago in the promotion of the cinematic treatment of George Orwell’s dystopian novel. I was but ten years old at the time.

BTW – My son was born in 1984. He was a little brother.

We don’t want to build new schools for those Duluth kids!

But we will bus them in so they can attend our old schools. Such was the overwhelming decision of Wrenshall’s voters in yesterday’s building referendum.

I’d be happy to welcome the 100 Duluth students currently attending Wrenshall back into the fold. Heck, I’d welcome the entire Wrenshall student population open enrolling into our brand-spanking new schools.

Annie Harala suggested sending our buses into outlying school districts last night’s meeting conjuring up the image of a dog-pound van hunting for strays. I don’t see that as terribly practical but if I thought a mass exodus was about to occur I’d have no problem sending our buses elsewhere. Think about it Wrenshall!

Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you

As I was about to head early to yesterday’s school board meeting I thumbed through my notes I discovered to my great annoyance that I had overlooked a 5 O’clock meeting to discuss negotiations “parameters” behind closed doors. We had called the same meeting the week before and two Board members weren’t in attendance so we postponed it and I failed to note the change to today. Practicing my most inelegant vocabulary inside the safety of my Toyota I got to the meeting over an hour late with eight minutes to spare. I shared my thoughts with great economy and was relieved to discover that the Board members who were going around the table seemed to share my thinking. Had I not been charging my cell phone I might have heard the urgent text message that the Superintendent sent me when I failed to show up.

The official 6:30 meeting followed and with an hour and a half of public comment we didn’t adjourn until 10PM. We gave the go-ahead to the administration to proceed with a budget that will require making $2.3 million in cuts after adding three-quarter-of-a-million to the expense side. Before voting for it I asked a question that had already been answered – would all the initial elements of this budget still be in play until we finally adopt a budget in June. The answer was “yes” so it was easy enough for me to vote “yea” knowing that I had two more do-overs.

The Trib gave a good reading the meeting. My biggest concern will be how we deal with the spending recommendations of the Denfeld community which has some powerful arguments for the District’s financial attention next year.

For me the most interesting thing that took place last night followed the meeting. I sit by the Superintendent during meetings and we write each other the occasional note. Bill (I’m beginning to call him by his name in informal settings to remove the distance that referring to him as “Superintendent” imposes) drew a picture of a mug of beer with a frothy head on it on his note pad and I replied by jotting down the question, “IPA or root.” He laughed and wrote “IPA.”

I only knew that the acronym stood for something having to do with beer. Its not what I thought but it definitely means beer. After the meeting I asked if he was suggesting hoisting a brew and he assented. I asked if he wanted to invite more school board members along and he did not object. Three of the board members had already beaten a hasty retreat but Art, Alanna and I coaxed Chair Kirby into joining us and we met down at Canal Park where we chatted and noshed.

For me this was a return to the past. When I first joined the Board in 1996 Board members and administrators adjourned to Grandma’s or the Green Mill to unwind. We didn’t talk shop. That’s forbidden under the open meeting laws. Instead we kibbutz-ed and got to know one another. We are on the honor system whenever a potentially fatal quorum forms. The closes we got to such a flirtation was when Art quipped that he wasn’t the longest winded Board member at the previous official meeting.

David and I talked medicine, children (our own), and classic movies. Alanna and the Superintendent talked about Western Duluth and the old days with Art. It was fun and I hope its repeated with even more board members after future meetings. It was a small but welcome step away from the Civil War I was plunged into in my first two years back on the school board.

Daphnia in tire soup experiment

Today’s lead story in the Trib highlighted the scientific investigations of two Duluth Middle School students. These young people were way ahead of the School Board when they decided to test whether our rubber tire mulch might be toxic. It is. At least it is to water fleas otherwise known as daphnia.

Whether it is hazardous for children has yet to be established but the story certainly reinforces my decision to replace the rubber mulch in our school playgrounds.

Maybe if we dumped our tire mulch in Lake Superior we could kill off the invasive spiny waterfleas that our fish can’t eat and that so annoy anglers.

Books that count

I just polished off my seventh book of the year and entered it on my reading list online. I set Destiny of the Republic aside a couple times to read books on China to Claudia and fuss with school board and family but whenever I picked it up it read fast and furious.

I seem likely to set a new second place – ten books in a year – since I began recording my serious reading. That first year 1979, was in the aftermath of losing a teaching job, losing my second race for the legislature and my discovery that I didn’t have it in me to sell life insurance. Instead, I decided to try once again to teach history and intended to do so by reading it. I began substitute teaching and the Assistant Superintendent made it a point to tell me that those subs who brought books to read to our substitute jobs weren’t serious about our work. It was one more example of someone failing to read my mind.

Vanity compels me to explain what I treat as a “serious book” and how such books get on my list. I’ve read a lot of children’s books but I don’t include them on my list. For instance, I’ve read all seven of the Harry Potter Books to Claudia and, with the exception of the final book, read them to her twice. They are perfectly serious books but they don’t count. I will count adult novels but I haven’t read a lot of them. Non fiction is my thing and I only include books that I’ve read cover to cover. I will leave an unread book like “Mr. Speaker” unfinished for years before adding them to the list. That one finally made this year.

I have two other partially completed histories I suspect I will finish this year. American Lion is about Andrew Jackson and I have another book on Presidents Monroe and Madison before they achieved the nation’s highest office. As with the Old Testament, which I finished a few months ago, much of this reading preceded this year. I also have two other political books waiting in the wing and one on World War I, but I may wait to dig into them until I get back from China on August 3rd. I’ve got to start a campaign for reelection and I’ve got half a dozen books on China that I’m reading to Claudia. Some of them may never make my list of completed books because I’m not that attached to the thought of reading them cover to cover. I’m 80 pages into a fat little general history of China but I suspect I’ll abandon it long before the Cultural Revolution because I’m already pretty familiar with that period. Ditto, the book Idiot’s Guide to Chinese. Sampling that will be sufficient and I hate reminding myself that I’m a school board member. Which reminds me…….

One of my recently retired idiot colleagues has recently been telling folks that our current school board is behaving badly and I have little doubt that she’s talking about me. With advertising like that I’ll have to hustle to win re-election.

I do aspire to more, which leaves me with one indelible memory from the book I just finished tonight. James Garfield was one of the most decent human beings ever to sit in the White House. He was so virtuous that his lingering two-month long death drove the most corrupt Vice President we ever elected, Chester A. Arthur, to reform himself and institute the far reaching reform of Civil Service which put an end to a crass system of political spoils in the national government.

The only similar example I can think of was LBJ’s passage of Civil Right’s legislation in the wake of John Kennedy’s assassination. Lucky for Chester there was no war being waged simultaneously. As one of his corrupt old political cronies explained it: “He ain’t ‘Chet Arthur’ any more. He’s the President.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say the same of Donald Trump?

Indian ghosts

I just keep adding more books to my reading list. The lastest is Killers of the Flower Moon. I’ve been catching reports on Public Radio for a presentation this week at the Fitzgerald Theater by its author David Grann.

The book is about the murders of Osage Indians which took place south of Kansas in Oklahoma about the time my Dad was born. I’ve never heard of them but I’ve always been fascinated by Oklahoma because of its eccentric ties to the South during the Civil War. When Andrew Jackson removed the Indians from the South in the winter of the Trail of Tears they took their African-American slaves with them. Ironically they had been civilized enough to adopt America’s slave tradition. When the Civil War broke out they looked at it as an opportunity to throw off Union control and sided with the same southerern slave holders that had removed them from the South.

The ex-slave Larry Lapsley, who had a farm next to my Grandfather after escaping from Texas had to travel at night through Oklahoma to avoid being caught by the slave owning Indians of the territory and being sent back.

My eight loyal readers know I’ve devoted a lot of space to Civil Rights in the blog tilted almost exclusively to African-Americans. However, I’ve never been in doubt about the treatment of Native Americans. I always wince on the Fourth of July when PBS reads the full Declaration of Independence and gets to this line about the wrongs of King George:

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Reading about this book opens up another haunting tie to my past. I’ve often written that when I was in sixth grade I was a minority white kid in Mr. Ross’s class although just barely. It was a 15/15 white/black split with one Native American kid added to make minorities of all of us. Sammy was an Osage Indian and new to Loman Hill Elementary so I really never got to know him since I moved to Minnesota at the end of my sixth grade year. He was a quiet kid.

White Kansas had a long history with both black and Indian populations. My Grandmother Ruth Welty’s great-grandparents were saved by a black woman, Black Ann Shatio, when they crossed over into Kansas from Missouri. (I just found this link today while looking for a reference from the Kansas Historical Society. Jerry Engler would be my shirt tail relative). Kansas also contributed a Vice President Charles Curtis to the United State. He was three quarters Native American. And of course my mother’s father, George Robb roamed around on land well traveled by Indians. A month ago I wrote that I had probably lost the arrowheads he collected on his farm in Assaria, Kansas, when I sent them off for a grandson’s show and tell. Hooray, they were rediscovered and returned. Here they are:

Vice President Curtis was one-quarter Osage and I can’t help but wonder if he makes an appearance in the Flower Moon although he was a Kansan not an Oklahoman. The Osage were one of the minor tribes who were moved to Oklahoma and you can see by this map of their reservation they lived adjacent to Kansas.

One of my Mother’s great-grandfather’s, Joseph Freemong McLatchey, lined up to race across the Oklahoma border in 1905 in hopes of claiming a piece of the territory only to find the land already occupied by “sooners.” He ruined his daughter’s prize horse in the attempt and remained in Kansas.

In the map above you can see where I was born – Arkansas City, Kansas. I remember hearing a local tell a “funny” story about the Oklahoma Indians after they struck oil on the once worthless land they imprisoned in. It seems one Osage, bought a car with his unexpected wealth and drove it around until it stopped moving a day or two later. Then he went out and bought another. He didn’t understand that cars needed gas.

According to the Flower Moon book the Osage’s white neighbors didn’t just make jokes about the Indians. They did their best to steal the oil for themselves by poisoning and shooting the unlucky Osage. Exposing these murders was the making of J Edgar Hoover’s FBI which uncovered 24 murders. Grann’s research suggests that this was just the tip of the iceberg. There may have been over a hundred. An Osage historian said that today there is hardly an Osage descendant that didn’t lose a relative to the murders of the 1920’s. I wonder if Sammy was quiet because he was haunted by ghosts.

I recently mentioned that one of my grandson’s had some Choctaw blood. They were another of the Native American tribes that were removed to Oklahoma.

Demography fail

I was sent this article by a Twin Cities school watcher. The story explains how demographer Hazel Reinhardt, who was wildly optimistic about the Duluth Schools enrollment growth after the Red Plan, did the same disservice to the St. Paul Schools.

Art Johnston who also read this story commented:

In 2006, she predicted that the Duluth Schools would have a low of 9,200 students in 2013, and then it would increase to 9,500 in 2017.

Well, we currently have 8150 students. Not only did she miss her mark by about 1400 students, this is the lowest number of students that I’ve been able to find for in Duluth.

In 1885, the oldest data I can find, Duluth schools had 8,600 students!

–ART

Save the Earth – start with rubber mulch

Duluth Parents for Healthy Playgrounds Playgrounds Fundraiser for Duluth Public Schools

Join the PTA for a family-friendly event with food, fun, cash bar, silent auction, and prize drawings! They are raising money to help the Duluth Public Schools remove tire mulch from the playgrounds and resurface them with wood fiber. Every dollar they raise (up to $30,000) will be matched by an existing playgrounds improvement fund started decades ago by the Miller family. Check their Facebook page for a list of the silent auction items that will be up for bid!

TICKETS FOR SALE!!! ?
Where to purchase:
Lester Park Elementary 4/13/17 at 5:30-7:00pm
Lowell Elementary 4/14/17 at 7:30-8:30am, 1:44-2:45, & 4:00-5:00pm
Skyline Bowling at front desk – Available Now!!… See More — with Duluth Public Schools in Duluth, Minnesota.

The fifth “C”

Last night I decided to skip singing in our church’s Maundy-Thursday service to attend Denfeld’s meeting where parents concerned about their children getting the short end of the stick reported back findings after a similar meeting a month earlier.

Much of the meeting was a repeat but I did note some information that I will keep in mind for future reference. In particular one MOAB. Mother of all Bombs (for you current events fans)

One of the speakers of glittering generalities listed their group’s “four C’s,” Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Commitment. But then the bomb dropped. It was a fifth C that I remember well from my early years – 1996 through 2003 – on the School Board – Compensatory Education.

This is one of the extras in state funding for public schools to address serious needs over and above their “base” needs. Do you have a vast school district with long bus runs? The state gives your district extra money for gas. Of all these extras Compensatory Education funds are perhaps particularly important, especially in this day and age where we wring our hands over the achievement gap between have and have-not students.

In my first two stints on the School Board my western colleague, Mary Glass, complained bitterly about how comp Ed dollars were spent going to schools in the east that did not generate much of the funds. I talked to administrators I trusted and learned that they were abiding by the laws which gave District’s a lot of discretion about where to spend the money. In ISD 709 we use some of this money to keep class sizes down across the entire school district.

In my old days we had much smaller class sizes, better funding. I wasn’t convinced that a tilt toward the East was all that outlandish. But that was then. Red Plan financing has forced us to take $3.3 million each year out of the General fund to pay off building bonds (something Art Johnston was irritated wasn’t mentioned in this otherwise excellent budget story.) And our voters are so jaundiced about the Red Plan that they have refused to pass a fully fleshed out operational levy which could add another three million to our budget. That’s at least $6.3 million dollars which @ $96,000/average teacher salary would allow us hire an additional 66 teachers. HOLY COW!!!! Thank you old school boards for short changing today’s school children.

The achievement gap in Duluth has never been any wider than it is at present. And last night for the first time ever I saw a side-by-side list of which Duluth schools children generate State Compensatory funds and which schools consume them. Talk about adding kerosene to the fire.

For the uninitiated – Compensatory Education funds are simply called “Comp Ed.”

School……………Comp Ed Earned…….Comp Ed received

Denfeld……………$852,007.00……………$684,128.00
East…………………$136,555.00……………$518,212.00

Lincoln Park……..$973,192.00……………$496,264.00
Ordean/East…….$203,578.00……………$436,741.00

Congdon………….$ 95,567.00……………$400,548.00
Homecroft……….$ 79,622.00……………$295,671.00
Lakewood…………$ 70,212.00……………$181,315.00
Lester Park……….$ 65,506.00……………$324,110.00
Lowell………………..$287,330.00……………$440,228.00
Laura MacArthur..$849,445.00……………$503,071.00
Myers-Wilkins…….$971,153.00……………$573,732.00
Piedmont…………….$715,138.00……………$532,207.00
Stowe………………….$446,994.00……………$402,512.00

What ISD 709 is doing is perfectly acceptable under the language of State Statute. Whether it fully comports with the “spirit” of the law is another thing.

Beezus and the code talkers

Beverly Cleary was six days shy of turning one year’s old when the United States Congress voted to go to war against Germany and join World War 1. She turned 101 two days ago and I was greatly surprised to learn of her age. Her Books about Beezus and Ramona were read to our children and, had I been a reader myself, I would no doubt have read them in grade school. She published her first children’s book in 1950 as I was finishing up my gestation. I was 41 when I published mine. The less said about that the better.

I made sure to watch all three episodes of PBS’s American Experience on the Great War Monday through Wednesday. It was an excellent series. You can watch it here.

I knew that my Grandfather’s Infantry Regiment would be highlighted and so on the second night I waited eagerly to see if the historian Dr. Jeffrey T. Sammons would be interviewed. I was not at all surprised, but delighted none-the-less, when he made his first of several appearances to talk about the role of African-American soldiers. I texted him my congratulations and he texted back that he had only a limited role in the production.

Dr. Sammons wrote The authoritative book on the Harlem Hellfighters or as he corrected the Harlem Rattlers which is what they called themselves. I’ve mentioned him a couple of times on the blog because he was commissioned to do some research on my Grandfather for a speech he delivered on Leap Day last year. (which launched my current drive to write a book about him.)

On Wednesday night I had my grandson’s over and let them watch the first few minutes of the last installment before they headed off to bed. The next morning I was able to tell my older Grandson, who has a little Choctaw inheritance, something that was new to me. The Americans found their cable telephone lines tapped into by the Germans who could listen in on their planning and thwart their plans of attack. When one American officer overheard two Choctaw troops speaking in their first language he asked them what they were doing. Both of the Choctaws froze expecting to be reprimanded. One recalled going to a school where the teachers washed children’s mouths out with soap for not speaking in English. Instead the officer put them on the telephones to confound the Germans.

I had known about “code talkers” in the Second world war but this was new. Not even the Army forgets a good idea.

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."