The letter in today’s Trib deserves some reply.
Reader’s view: Grover displays courage in face of Red plan foes
Duluth School Board Chairman Tim Grover has demonstrated exemplary and courageous leadership in the implementation of the Long-Range Facilities Plan. Despite insults and harassment by an irrational few, he’s been able to keep perspective, focusing on the task at hand and providing quality education for our children.
Its true that Tim has endured insults. I do not see that his critics are any less rational than his supporters.
Being pragmatic, he understands the need for a comprehensive facilities plan to benefit the entire city. Unlike those board members who blindly oppose any progress, Grover sees the need for change and has worked for compromise, guiding a process that has been under budget and on time and that has brought businesses, families and neighbors together.
Tim has always valued pragmatism but this has been as much about choosing the side he thought would eventually win as improving our schools. Whether this will provide a better education for our children in the long run remains to be seen. The short term dislocations, and relocation of entire school populations, the laying off of teachers etc is doing little to improve short term education. Hiring an ex police chief in anticipation of quelling student violence does not suggest a particularly healthy educational climate.
The naysayers have thrown up multiple obstacles to stop progress toward creating better schools. Frivolous lawsuits, costing hundreds of thousands of tax dollars, have been thrown out of court. Despite fear-mongering, eminent domain has not been used, and no one has lost their home because of increased taxes.
The naysayers were never given a vote on a plan which was the first obstacle and sadly they never were able to overcome this. I can assure that the lawsuit filed was so deadly to the Red Plan that the District was desperate to delay and derail it. As for the costs to the District of fending off critics – if the Superintendent can be trusted it did not stop the District from saving $32 million in construction costs. I personally doubt this but since Johnson Controls has been under fire for three years its entirely likely that the constant pressure of Red Plan critics made it difficult for the contractors to milk the project of additional earnings when no one was looking.
Grover has personally made efforts to reach out to individual families to hear their concerns and work toward understanding and compromise. Traffic patterns, entries and parking have been modified to meet local needs. For example, collaboration between the city and school district helped create a vision where Memorial Park and Laura MacArthur Elementary will be jewels to the community. The district and Grover continue to be committed to finding workable solutions to neighborhood concerns.
I know Tim made a few such efforts. He is the chief author of the referendum that will likely be put to a vote in the fall, a referendum he is now ridiculing. I have little doubt that there will be some gems among the new schools. For $430 million dollars it would be a terrible shame if this were not the case. As for other schools, well, the new Duluth East looks incredibly cramped to me which was predicted by a very experienced landscape architect long before the first shovel full of dirt was removed. I remain skeptical that the site will ever be regarded as practical for the number of students who will be crammed into it without acquiring many more homes for future expansion.
In the middle of an understandably difficult transition to a two-high school structure, Grover has kept a level head and followed the rules. He continues to work for the community.
If turning off microphones on critics and walking out of meetings is playing by the rules that’s news to me. It certainly isn’t level headed.
The naysayers would have you think otherwise. But speaking louder and longer and twisting the facts at School Board meetings doesn’t make you right – just loud, longwinded and twisted.
As the kids I knew in grade school used to say: “same to you and more of it.” As their parents used to say: “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”