Is Chair Harala correct that the School Board reaffirmed its policy of not selling old schools to other schools?

Not exactly.

That would have required the Board to reconsider the aforementioned policy and vote for it. That’s not the question we voted on.

What we did was vote on a proposal brought to the Board by Art Johnston, Alanna Oswald and me which would have in effect allowed us to examine an offer that could have raised $14.2 million for a property that has been costing us $176,000 each of the last five years to maintain. (although Central’s vacancy has been a boon to the Minnesota Ballet which I talked the Administration into opening up so that they could clean and repair storm damaged costumes.)

This is what our rejected motion said:

WHEREAS, Pursuant to District Policy 3195 –Disposal of School District Property, All property sold shall contain a deed restriction prohibiting the property’s future use as a school or other E-12 educational facility.

WHEREAS, Pursuant to District Policy 8120 –Disposal of School Board Properties, Property shall not be released without knowledge of its proposed utilization, and no property is to be released for the purpose or subsequent purpose of usage as a school other than ISD 709. By contract, such violation shall result in the property reverting back to ISD 709.

WHEREAS, In order to consider offers to purchase School District property for the utilization as a E-12 educational facility, the School Board must suspend District Policies 3195 and 8120.

WHEREAS, The School Board of ISD 709 has received a proposal for $14.2 million from Tischer Creek Duluth Building Co., a nonprofit entity affiliated with North Star and Raleigh Charter Schools, for the Central High School site.

WHEREAS, Incomplete information or misinformation was cited as reasons for voting in a certain way in the March 31 meeting.

WHEREAS, New information has surfaced that could potentially change reasons to vote a certain way including, but not limited to: Assessed values, realtor opinions and public opinions.

WHEREAS, the fact that the land value of the Central High School site was assessed at only $8 million in the 2006 evaluation by Ramsland and Vigen, Inc. This is the most recent property assessment, and was conducted during a peak in property values in Duluth.

WHEREAS, The School Board of ISD 709 has adopted a civility resolution where we will show your evidence and share your reasoning.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT In order to fully investigate the offer, the School Board directs the Administration and School Board to initiate negotiations with Tisher Creek Duluth Building Co. to devise for the School Board’s consideration the most favorable mutual conditions for said sale including, but not limited to: provisions for enrollment caps, possible withholding of some parcels of the whole property from inclusion, potential joint usage of existing buildings, and an acceptable price for the purchase.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the School Board of Independent School District 709, St. Louis County, Minnesota shall suspend District Policies 3195 and 8120 in order to consider negotiating the current offer from Tischer Creek Duluth Building Co. for the Central High School site.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the School Board of Independent School District 709, St. Louis County, Minnesota shall have an agenda item on a special board meeting to be held preferably by May 9th but no later than the May 17th regular school board meeting on whether to sell the Central High School site to Tischer Creek Duluth Building Co.

As Alanna has explained, suspending school board policies is a pretty routine event. The only justification for keeping additional offers from reaching the ears of the School Board was to keep them secret. It had nothing to do with the Board’s “reaffirming” Policy 3195 not to sell to other schools. It seems the secrecy was intended to make sure that the Board wouldn’t be made to look foolish a second time by once again voting not to take money for one of our many white elephants.

42 kids in a Denfeld Freshman English class is a small price to pay for our Red Plan indebtedness.