“Eye-popping”

A letter in today’s Duluth News Trib about tonight’s school board meeting:

Board wants to raid general fund to help pay for red plan

Duluthians who voted to renew the school district’s operating levy this month for educational programs will get an eyeful at the next School Board meeting. School Board members who promised just before the election not to use levy money for the red plan are expected to vote on a resolution to “borrow” $5 million from the general fund “to pay preliminary expenditures for … projects in anticipation of the issuance of the [red plan] obligations.”

On Oct. 12, I warned of plans to use operating money for buildings. Like earlier votes, today’s expected vote to use general-fund money for building designs should come as no surprise. For “no” votes on red plan-related resolutions, I have been called an “elephant” by some of my fellow School Board members. Elephants are more typically found in circuses and magic acts than on school boards, but Duluth’s board is just as capable of eye-popping feats.

Why, the School Board just spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads warning that $7.7 million in classroom money could be lost next year. But now the School Board appears ready to lend $5 million of general fund money on building projects, rather then paying for more teachers.

No one should be surprised. Five years ago, our School Board promised to use the 2003 operating levy to keep class sizes down. Today, high school English and middle school Spanish and algebra classes routinely hold 36 to 37 students, despite that promise.

With a total of $95,404,371 in new “obligations” waiting for approval, no one should expect class sizes to shrink any time soon. Paying for the red plan will require sacrifice, and along with it, our children’s opportunity for quality education!

Gary Glass
Duluth School Board member