Loren Martell’s take on our last School Board meeting. I was pleased with his capture of my extemporizing:
During discussion of the Education Committee Report. Member Welty remarked about a presentation that had been given to the Board about the district’s Families in Transition program: “It was a sobering (revelation) that in all likelihood by the end of this year we will have had 550 students who during some portion of the school year found themselves homeless–perhaps for a night, perhaps for a much, much longer time. Out of a student population of roughly 8000, that equates to not quite one in ten kids…If anyone has doubt about the future needs of ISD 709, they can look at these figures, which I have to say are extraordinary. I would like to compare (these numbers) to the kinds of numbers that existed 20 years ago, when I was first elected to the school board…The thought that almost one in ten children in our school district would find themselves homeless, find themselves being moved around, just lost…This is a huge responsibility for us, and I’m very grateful to our students, especially those at East High School, who’ve been talking about our mental health professionals and looking after (other) students, two of which should have been graduating with East’s graduating class.”
And explaining my reference to the two missing graduates Loren continued:
Following up on what member Welty said, Duluth East Student Representative Spencer Frederickson, choking on a bit of emotion, added, “I remember the day we lost one of our students. I’ve been a proud Greyhound (East’s mascot) my entire high school career, but that day was hard. And it is the responsibility of this school board to take action on these suicides. Having two kids not in the chairs at graduation is unacceptable…”
At the end of the meeting one Board member interrupted a conversation that Mr. Frederickson, Alanna Oswald and I were having and told Spencer with dismissive authority that school’s were not responsible for children’s suicides.