Halloween Robbery

As I headed to pick up some last minutes leaflets, late this afternoon I paused to mail a letter to a fellow who doesn’t plan to vote for me. He caught me in an elementary mistake which necessitated a change in my fliers. I also picked up some candy for trick or treaters at Jubliee in the Plaza. Just after dropping off a thank you letter to him for catching my mistake I drove off toward the Oriental Grocery on 1st St. and Eighth Ave. E. Out of the grocery flew a young man followed closely by the store’s clerk. I surmised that a robbery had just taken place and gave chase …for about fifteen seconds.

The villain ran between yards and crossed the alley and slipped between some apartments. I pulled into the alley behind the grocery and was caught short by a dog on a leash who was quite excited that a car was heading for him. I spared the dog and backed out to much barking. I circled the block but could not pick up the trail of the thief.

I went back to the store and entered it as the clerk was speaking on the telephone to, I presume, 911. Shortly thereafter a woman entered who had seen the same thing I did but who had kept traveling up 8th Avenue without turning into the alley that had boxed me in. She had seen the robber climb into his car on another street and had taken down his liscense plate number.

We stayed until the police came and each wrote down statements about what we’d seen. It made for a memorable All Hallows Eve.

The Reader endorsement

I called the Reader to put in an ad for Gary and me. When the publisher dropped by to pick up the check he began telling me about his candidate endorsing meeting. Before he got far I interrupted him and blurted out: “You blankety blank. You didn’t endorse me”. I think he was a bit caught off guard by my mirth. I’ve twice sat in on his endorsing meetings and know how eccentric it can be. All the other right candidates got endorsed for the school board but not me. We’ll see how bad that hurts my prospects.

On the bright side the Reader will put my last words on the Red Plan in their last issue before the election. I think it should more than make up for the endorsement.

I’ve had a hand in trying to pass a half dozen school referendums of one sort or another and I probably would have voted for the Red Plan if it had been put up for a vote. So, how could I have turned against the next best thing since sliced bread?

It began five months ago when I read that the School Board didn’t need a referendum on the Red Plan. Every time a school board member condescended to tell me that he or she was elected to make the decision my flesh crawled. That may be true for Minnesota’s city councils and county boards but it’s not been true of school boards. Then, after the Superintendent bragged that there was no way to stop the Red Plan, I began to realize that Johnson Controls lawyers may have found a way for Duluth to skip a referendum. I say, “May” because the state has delayed ruling on the loopholes JCI discovered.

Watching JCI’s sleight of hand prompted me to start asking questions. For instance: why were 1,700 high school students going to be placed on the same 27 acres that now house Ordean’s 300 junior high students? Why was there no consideration of the likelihood that angry voters would rebel next year and vote down a referendum for classroom expenses? There are no loopholes yet to deny citizens this vote. Why was there so little consideration for the health of central Duluth? And lastly, why was it necessary to tear so many schools down and build new? The average age of the schools targeted by the Red Plan is just 56 years. My house, at 93 years, is almost twice as old. One explanation for this is that the School District has neglected its schools. Hogwash!

The last time the School Board was accused of neglecting maintenance was in 1989 during the row over the defeated $55 million building referendum. When Mark Myles became Superintendent 15 years ago he instituted a ten year maintenance plan that poured roughly two million annually into the most pressing maintenance problems. We still have the ten-year plan and close to $30 million have been poured into our buildings because of it. Most of them are not new buildings but none of them are wrecks.

It’s also been argued that the Red Plan’s colossal $293 million expense is simply inflation over 1989’s failed $55 million plan. This too is nonsense. We haven’t suffered from 500% inflation over the last 18 years. If you used 2006 dollars on 1989’s $55 million plan it would only cost Duluth $90.3 million dollars today. That’s less than one third the cost of the Red Plan.

Ah, but Red Plan advocates tell us we are fools to turn down the $5 million in savings the Red Plan will give us. I don’t buy it. As a school board member for eight years I was the principal champion for closing a high school so that we could use the savings for richer programming. Never do I recall anyone suggesting that we could save much more than a million dollars annually by doing this. A million bucks is nothing to sneeze at – but one million dollars isn’t five million dollars.

Where do the Red Plan advocates get their five million dollars? Three million of it comes from cutting educational programs but we could do that without closing any buildings! One such cut of $400,000 comes from trimming elementary music, art and PE teachers. Ironically, these are positions that Duluth voters were promised when they voted for a classroom levy in 1997.

This question of savings is one of the reasons that Minnesota’s Department of Education has postponed an OK on the Red Plan. The state wanted more documentation. Gary Glass has also been agitating for more documentation for a month now. This week he was told that the savings information wasn’t available because it was in Johnson Control’s hands. I guess it’s pretty obvious who’s calling the shots in the Duluth Schools nowadays.

The Red Plan’s life began when a handful of JCI lawyers found a loophole. It developed as 34 citizens (about a third of which only showed up infrequently) studied the district and its demography. It was justified when 300 people were surveyed and asked whether they minded skipping a referendum. It was then carved into stone when a bare four-person majority of the school board decided to skip a referendum. The sixty-thousand of us who would pay the taxes were not to be consulted. Such is the loophole discovered by JCI’s lawyers.

Lawyers live on loopholes but a school board lives on the public’s trust.

Let Duluth Vote!

The DFL calling and a 56% tax hike

I was listening in on the Brad Bennet show this morning. Brad and I have had our ups and downs but we see eye to eye on the Red Plan. We both need a red filter. I was waiting for a chance to call him when I got a call first from the DFL.

“Hello, I’m Sumitra.” said the very Indian voice on the other end. We’re talking a Bangalore call center. “I’m calling to ask you to vote for Tony Cuneo and Dave Anderson for City Council they are good for unions and working families.” I put quotes on the speil but I don’t recall it exactly. Sumitra asked if I would vote for them and I was non commital. Nothing like having the local “living wage” folks outsorcing jobs to Asia to promote their politicians.

A moment later I was on the line with Brad who wanted to talk school issues. I had to begin by imitating the call I’d just gotten. Brad had already gotten such a call and later I got an email from one of the Let Duluth Voters saying he’d gotten the same call two hours after hearing me on Bennett’s show. If that doesn’t do in Cuneo and Anderson nothing will.

Before the end of the hour I managed to tell Brad that the Red Plan will bump the school portion of our property taxes next year by 56%. That’s a recent discovery. Funny how the District hasn’t managed to get that message across. Everyone will find out shortly after the election when they get their property tax notices from the County. The Red Plan has to be included even though it might not go into effect. (should Gary and I get elected) That could make for an interesting Truth in Taxation hearing for the School Board in December.

Inflation misinformation

This will be brief. I’ve got more of Lakeside to leaflet today. I’m about 75% done with the 2nd District.

I’ve heard it argued that because of the School Board’s neglect we now face this awesome need for $293 million in new buildings. I believe I’ve pointed out before that the argument that the Board has been neglecting buildings for the last fifteen years is nonsense. That may have been true in the 1970’s and 1980’s but starting with Mark Myles in the early 1990’s the School Board began putting roughly $2 million a year into long term maintenence. The ten year plan is still in effect. The District has spent about $30 million on maintenence and repair since the first ten year plan.

As for the idea that because we didn’t pass 1989’s $55 million building plan we now face the gruesome prospect of a $293 million plan because of inflation. That’s simply assinine. It presumes an astonishing 500% rate of inflation over the past 18 years. I found an online inflation calculator and although it only took me up to 2006 it showed that 1989’s $55 million dollars would be the equivelent of $90.3 million in 2006. That’s less than a third of the Red Plan’s cost.

Don’t blame neglect or inflation for the Red Plan’s extravagance. Blame foolishness. Blame greed. Blame inflated egos. The old school board did what it was supposed to.

More On JCI’s political largesse

This story makes it even clearer how much JCI ponied up to buy a Wisconsin Governor. They tried to buy two of them.

Key Quote:

“Johnson Controls already has ponied up more than $170,000 to the Republican Governors Association to help bankroll the effort to get Mark Green elected governor. The company is carefully hedging its bets, however, sending $90,000 so far to the Democratic Governors Association to help finance a shadow campaign – mostly waged by a front group called the Greater Wisconsin Committee – on behalf of Jim Doyle.”

A day brightener

Vic sent me two posts from Duluth’s Citizen Blog that I rarely have time to monitor. Its punch and counter punch and one of my supporters throws the last one…..for now.

From http://www.duluthcitizensblog.com/cgi-bin/blog1.cgi:

Sun Oct 21 12:12:37 2007: [Confusing ], HairyCausesConfusion M writes:

Let me point out some problems with Harry Welty’s opinion article in todays DNT http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/articles/index.cfm?id52709sectionOpinion
I will only point out highlights of his lengthy story of crap.
Harry states In addition to their sticker shock, theyll be furious that the building decision was taken out of their hands. Lets get over this one people, we elect officials so we don’t have to vote on everything. We elected them so drop the story that sounds so good by playing the we can’t vote line.

And this statement
The board showed no more sympathy for these petitioners than Sheriff Jim Clark showed marchers for African American voting rights when he violently confronted them in Selma, Ala., in 1965.
This has no more right to be in a valid argument going after the black vote Harry? than the voodoo doll he brought to a school board meeting before.
Here is another point that is not part of the discussion They might wonder why the red plan is designed to make Duluth more segregated.

Again sounds good but the job of schools is not to fight segregation. Schools should be where the people are. Want to go to a different school? Ever hear of open enrollment? Schools shoud not participate in social engineering.

And two last points based on this line
Harry Welty is a candidate for the Duluth School Board. He previously served on the board from 1995 to 1999 and again from 2000 to 2004.

In 8 years on the school board he contributed to this problem not solving it, eight years is enough. Can people honestly vote for an individual who claims he wants to confuse the issue?

And:

Sun Oct 21 19:52:55 2007: [Red Plan – Someone is lying, guess who?], Ben Dover writes:

HairyCausesConfusion M: You may want to include more of the truth in your further rants regarding Harry Welty. For starters, he is running for school board in large part because the current school board morons last June rammed the largest, most expensive plan down the throats of Duluthians in Minnesota history. Are you proud about that?

Check the resume of Keith Dixon and you will find that after his doings in Faribault, the school board candidates there that ran for school board ran on the platform that they would get rid of Dixon. And they did just that. And Duluth, the magnet of incompetent leadership, snapped him up in true Duluth fashion in choosing loosers for leadership. Your statement that we elect school board members to decide for us instead of us having to vote on every issue is fine if we are deciding on issues involving what are deemed normal operating expenditures, but $437,000,000.00 is not normal and therefore your statement is more ingorant than anything. What kind of a school board do we have when they were asked last month by Gary Glass if the true cost of the plan is $437,000,000.00 and none would answer, yet a gentleman from Johnson Controls stepped forward and confirmed this fact. Why did they vote on the plan if they did not know what the cost would be? Or why are they trying to hide the true cost from the taxpayers? The answer may give us a good idea as to why they do not want it to go to a vote.

I do not care if people want the red, green, blue, or pink plan, but if it is going to cost me possibly another $500.00 to $1,000.00 a year for twenty years just for the school district, I expect to vote on it. Especially because if it is accepted, it does nothing for programming and when the school board goes to the public for an excess levy as required by law in the future, after seeing how they got screwed, the taxpayers would never pass a levy and programming would suffer for many years into the future.

Just so that you know, I understand that regarding the let Duluth vote petitions, that they have gotten a better than 85% to 90% success in signing the petitions all across the city. What does that tell you about the clever work performed by Johnson Controls and their survey which apparently showed a majority of Duluthians favored their plan? Someone is lying. Guess who it is? Why is the school board afraid to put it to a vote? Simple, if the voters were told the truth about the cost, even Duluthians would reject it by a large percentage when they are told the truth about the cost as they are now being told, due in large part by people like Harry Welty.

After reading your statements, I am inclined to believe that you either work for Johnson Controls or are just part of the Duluth elitists club who could care less to see the proper progress within the school district. Duluth is a poor, poor city and getting poorer. The majority of Duluthians can not afford this project and coupled with the health care bill that they will be getting if Ness is elected, the numbers are quickly pushing closer to $1,000,000,000.00. That is ONE BILLION DOLLARS OF DEBT!

Thank you Harry Welty for bringing this to all of our attention and thank you Harry Welty, Gary Glass, Deb Anderson, and Tim Grover for participating in the recent Progressive Action forum at city hall. Where was Schraw and Punyko? I was looking forward to listening to their lame reasons on not allowing us all to vote on this lala land idea.

Trib takes step back from Red Plan

Until today Robin Washington, the DNT’s Editorial Editor, had given his qualified approval to the District’s Red Plan. I sent him the page of the District’s report for review and comment which showed the likely division of Duluth a couple weeks ago. He’s obviously given this some thought and doesn’t like what he sees.

Key quote:

“Told by a multitude of individuals and groups that would be unacceptable, Superintendent Keith Dixon responded with a “left-right” plan, dividing the districts into a more truly geographic, and demographic, east-west split. The west-side school would then be 11 percent minority and 34 percent low-income; the east-side school would be 12 percent minority and 24 percent low income.

But for whatever reason, Dixon and the school district haven’t definitively committed to the left-right plan. Instead, they submitted to the state Department of Education the 14th Avenue East boundary with some platitudes about “community input [to] finalize the precise locations of the middle/high school boundaries” and the “establishment of attendance boundaries and school populations, transportation or other means combined with school-specific programming to create a positive school culture.”

That’s just doublespeak. Either the district is interested in demographically balancing the schools or it isn’t. And if it is, the left-right plan is the best model for achieving it. If Dixon and company continue to ignore it, what possible conclusion can be drawn from their actions other than that they’re intentionally seeking to keep Duluth’s schools segregated?”

I’m glad because I went to the Topeka Schools and remember vividly being sent out to the playground when the black kids from the nearby all black elementary were shepherded into our school to fully integrate it. I’d hate to see racial divisions carved into Duluth’s heart.

Bell & Ness Support Referendum

I already knew that Don Ness supported having a referendum on the Red Plan. Goodness knows the City’s liability for retiree health care is scary enough. I just heard that Charlie Bell, who sat on the task force which came up with the Red Plan, does too. I saw Charlie outside the PACT TV offices in City Hall today and asked him if it was true. Sure is. It might not matter for $5 million, Charlie said, but this is different. Sure is. It’s $437 millions worth of difference.

DFT begins “innuendo” campaign

The Duluth Federation of Teacher’s Press Release gave us a classic story in today’s Trib.

According to my old pal and nemesis, Frank Wanner, who is also the President of the Duluth Federation of Teachers: “The candidates we have endorsed will not resort to personal attacks, name-calling or character assassination in an attempt to be elected.”

Since I wasn’t endorsed by the union I have to assume the DFT holds me responsible for the crimes their news release has outlined.

“Name calling”? I’ve mentioned to a couple people that the Superintendent was called the “Silver Fox” in his old District of Faribault. That’s not such a bad name.

“Character assassination”? What? Where? When?

“Personal Attacks”? Huh? Its no longer permissible to point out people’s public records? Dr. Dixon presided over a School District that twice failed to pass classroom levies after a big building bond which Dr. Dixon successfully passed in a bond referendum. Let Duluth Vote reprinted the story from the new tabloid the Zenith. Its much more a matter of fact than anything else and it’s important because its a harbinger of Duluth’s future should the Superintendent prevent the voters from approving the Red Plan.

In fact another story in today’s Trib made it clear how important and vulnerable excess levies are. (Only 42 percent of excess levy referendums passed in Minnesota last year.) If Duluth’s fails next year it will cost our classrooms $5 million annually. Let Duluth Vote should be thanked for pointing out the danger to our classrooms. In fact, why isn’t the DFT worried about this? Many teachers will lose their jobs if the levy fails next year.

Finally its really rich that Frank, of all people, would call the kettle black. He has a long history of bad mouthing school board members and administrators.

I’d say that, if anything, the DFT has inadvertantly begun an innuendo campaign. Readers of the Trib will start wondering what there is about the Superintendent to have unleased name calling, character assassination and personal attacks.

New Testimony for the State Ed. Dept.

I am not the only one sending in new testimony to the MDE (Minnesota Dept of Education) I haven’t read anyone else’s testimony but I thought you might be interested in what I’m telling them. I have some more I’ll be sending in, hopefully before the day is out.

Date: Thursday, October 18, 2007 7:35 AM
From: harrywelty@charter.net
To: Audrey., Chas, Tom, Gary Glass
Cc: Kent Worley
Subject: Info on the Red Plan and JCI
Size: 11 KB

To the MDE staff
RE: Duluth’s review and comment
From: Harry Welty

I am sending you two emails. The first is from Kent Worley a top notch architect who is almost single handedly responsible for the public portion of what is probably the biggest single building project in Duluth History in the past fifty years – the I35 Highway expansion through downtown Duluth.

Kent has followed JCI’s progress and has grave misgivings about it. He asked me to forward his comments to you. Subsequently, I received a second email from a fellow I have no knowledge of, a Mr. Saccoman. I presume Kent sent him a blind copy of Kent’s email to me. Mr Saccoman affirms Kent’s comments and adds some interesting sidelights.

This is not all. Gary Glass, of Let Duluth Vote, has been investigating the JCI bidding process since the beginning of the Summer and has found a number of troubling things about it.

Well before the District sent out RFP’s, JCI employees were addressing the School Board about new buildings which suggests that they had an inside track long before the RFPs were sent out.

One component of the RFP’s was to design a building plan around educational programming. To date this has not occurred.

When Gary went to the District to ask for the JCI Contract it was marked “confidential” by the Superintendent. When Gary later showed the contract to two school board members, Tim Grover, and Laura Condon, they both told him they had never seen it before. In my years on the Board all contracts were printed in the monthly agenda for action by the school board.

Finally, I am going to add the contract language that the District has agreed to with JCI and that Kent Worley mentions in his email. It sets out the various rates of compensation that JCI will receive as it manages the construction of the Red Plan. It does indeed seem generous: I’ve recopied it from the letduluthvote website: http://www.letduluthvote.com/jciscompensation.htm

Good luck figuring out how much JCI will earn by the end of the project:

From the Master Agreement, ATTACHMENT C page 1 of 2:

3.0% Compensation For Basic Services as described in Attachment D, Johnson Controls’ compensation shall be computed as follows:

3.1 For Renovations, repairs, or remodels:

3.1.1 Compensation for Program Management computed at 2% of the total Construction Cost.

3.1.2 Plus compensation for Architectural Services computed at 8% of the related Architectural Construction Cost, and not total Construction Cost.

3.1.3 Plus compensation for Engineering Services computed at 9.5% of the related Engineering Construction Cost, and not the total Construction Cost.

3.1.4 Plus compensation for Commissioning Services computed at 2.5% of the related Commissioning Construction Costs, and not total Construction Costs.

3.1.5 Plus, for projects that utilize Construction Management where the Construction Manager is not the Constructor and where the mechanical portion of the project is less than 60% of the total Construction Cost, compensation for Construction Management Services computed at 5% of the total Construction Cost.

from ATTACHMENT C page 2 of 2:

3.2 For New Construction:

3.2.1 Compensation for Program Management computed at 2% of the total Construction Cost.

3.2.2 Plus compensation for Architectural Services computed at 7% of the related Architectural Construction Cost, and not total Construction Cost.

3.2.3 Plus compensation for Engineering Services computed at 8.5% of the related Engineering Construction Cost, and not the total Construction Cost.

3.2.4 Plus compensation for Commissioning Services computed at 2.5% of the related Commissioning Construction Costs, and not total Construction Costs.

3.2.5 Plus, for projects that utilize Construction Management where the Construction Manager is not the Constructor, compensation for Construction Management Services computed at 4% of the total Construction Cost.

EMAIL TO HARRY WELTY FROM KENT WORLEY TO PASS ON TO THE MDE

From: “Kent G. Worley”
To: harrywelty
Subject: ISD 709
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2007 05:28:54 -0500

To Harry Welty
From Kent Worley, Landscape Architect
Date October 17, 2007

Harry, Please send this on to our Minnesota Education Commissioner, or anyone who is evaluating the ISD 709 proposal for the “Red Plan”.

First, we appreciate your careful reviews of what is being proposed for the Duluth School District, and we look forward to an opportunity for you to become a member of the Duluth Public School Board, especially because you have demonstrated your awareness of cost discipline and project quality control.

There is a huge expenditure of public funds which is part of the current school administration plan, which could, and should be avoided. It is the component called “Project Management”. ISD 709 has always had an in-house facilities & project management department, staffed by either an architect or a civil engineer, and with in-house support. If this department needs additional staff, additional architects/engineers can be added on a 5 or more year basis to cover the time period of construction.

I have worked with several public facilities, such as UMD in Duluth, and there are always in-house department and professional staff people whose responsibility includes all the preparation, interviewing and hiring of consultant A/E firms, construction advertising, construction bidding, inspection or contract observation, construction observation, preparing and coordinating contractors, payment requests, change orders, construction meetings, public coordination such as utilities, and the myriad of necessary activities during key planning and construction activities which make up “project management”.

The very great advantage of having this function in-house is that this is the department which has to deal with the buildings, infrastructure, and numerous operational activities which need daily attention—forever! In-house quality control, accountability, awareness of all systems and cost accountability is always far superior compared to turning this immense responsibility over to a consultant. Consultant project managers do not have the same long term commitment and responsibility of the finished work as in-house personnel have. I am referring to accountability and quality of all things during planning and construction, as well as cost control by in-house personnel. No ‘fee’ incentive for construction cost changes exist for in-house project management, while this does exist under consultant project management. [reference fee schedules]

I am absolutely amazed that Project Management is about to be turned over to any consultant service for this size and complexity of construction For projects of this magnitude, it is completely imperative the district attain the far superior quality control of in-house personnel, not to speak of the cost savings – Even if 4 additional in-house architects/engineers make up this in-house Project Management team for 5 years, this should not cost more than [5 persons @ $100,000 per year] this is only $2.5 million” compare that to the fees to be paid to the consultant Project Manager” their contract has so many fees that no one can even total this cost. My rough estimate would be that this will cost no less than $15 million; I have heard even higher estimates.

It is this kind of in-attention to detail which is highly questionable. Other glaring examples include the consultant’s proposal to use an inadequate 26 acre site for a 1,500 student population high school when 50 to 55 acres of buildable land is the minimum state recommended size for such a facility – these kinds of proposals indicate poor pre-planning, excessive cost and less than ideal quality control of this out-of-scale project for Duluth.

Sincerely, Kent G. Worley, Landscape Architect

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7:53 PM

EMAIL FROM ROGER SACCOMAN SECONDING KENT WORLEY’S ASSESSMENT

Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2007 8:41:00 -0500
From: R Saccoman
To: harrywelty
Subject: Fwd: ISD 709
Cc: Kent Worley

Mr. Welty — As follow up to the memorandum sent to you by Kent Worley, an additional comment or two: The concept of proceeding on a project which will affect Duluth young people for the next 100 years with an HVAC controls company in charge would be a complete mystery if not for the huge money exchanging hands. Johnson Controls has insufficient knowledge to manage the planning and design of a project — large or small. They have no committement to design, no understanding of planning issues, and no stake in Duluth other than to grab as much money as possible.

There is a State law which indicates that communities can pursue projects without referenda if one of the control companies (Honeywell or JCI) front the money and manage energy conservation measures to help return on investment. It’s bad policy. Real engineers who understand life cycle costing would dismiss this concept without working very hard to prove the absurdity of the accounting. But why should the professionals step up to work against a theory that ultimately pays a lot of them big money. So it goes. Your superintendent knows what he’s doing. He should be audited monthly.

Kent has presented (usually with passion) his opposition to big power interests ignoring the planning and vision of a City for their own interests. Kent is right. He’s always been right for Duluth. People in all the cities, towns and villages around the world are quick to look out of their area for advice. So often they completely miss the local expertise. Worley is one of the great landscape architects of our region. Duluth was lucky to have him around all these years, working hard without great personal gain to emphasize Duluth’s interests with integrity. My advice — listen to him. — Roger Saccoman

State postpones Red Plan Ruling

In a big set back the State postponed making a ruling on the Red Plan. Superintendent Dixon was quick to dismiss the idea that the postponement had anything to do with Let Duluth Vote. He looked uncharacteristicly grim when he said it however. Furthermore when asked if a new school board could undo the Red Plan if it was put into effect he conceeded that it could. However, Dixon said that would be something that has never happened before to such a big plan……..probably because there never was a situation remotely like the one he helped guide in Duluth.

We are thrilled. Furthermore, after our meeting with the State we have a much clearer idea what the weaknesses in the District’s proposal are.

I was confounded to learn that the only thing that the District submitted about the savings was what was on page 87. Upon closer inspection its apparent that some of the page is completely bogus. The most glaring item is the $400,000 is “savings” from terminating teachers called “specialists.” These are the positions that the JCI suits told Gary Glass were not teachers.

The history of these mostly elementary specialists is interesting. In 1997 when the District asked voters to renew the excess levy of 1993 it agreed to hire elementary music, art and phy ed specialists. For the next six years a majority of the School Board fought like crazy to maintain them even after the 2001 levy failed. Now after ten years they area being sacked.

The damn thing is this is not savings from the Red Plan or anything like new efficiencies. Its savings because of a change in programming. Saying that by cutting them the Red Plan is saving us money is like eliminating math and saying the decreased savings were a result of new efficiencies in the building.

One of the more annoying complaints being aired now in the Red Plans defense is that the school Board didn’t maintain the buildings therefore they must be torn down and built anew. What a crock! That was the complaint ini 1989 when another set of eager parents proposed a 55 million building program. By the time I got on the Board Mark Myles had begun a 2 million a year capital improvements program. No longer would the Capital fund be used as a slush fund to buy text books. Steve McNeill was hired and the buildings were carefully maintained. That program continued through my years on the Board and I think its been continued it at the same level to the present time. I’ll have to go check that.

At any rate our buiildings which are average almost half as young as my home are mostly in good shape as a result. Its a travesty to claim that they were neglected in recent years.