Much to my surprise last night the School Board agreed to hire the Twin Cities Architectural firm ATS&R to put together a review and comment for the Plan B Petition that Let Duluth Vote circulated over a year ago. How surprised was I? Just before the meeting I told a KDLH reporter how seriously I took the School Board when they said they were considering doing such a thing. The clip used on the evening news showed me rolling my eyes reciting the long list of roadblocks the District threw in our path right up to the eleventh hour. Now a mere month from the close of the school year and the beginning of summer construction ATS&R has three weeks to start from scratch and come up with a plan for the Dept. of Education.
I suspect some members of the Board were positively giddy at the prospect of proving me wrong by authorizing the Review and Comment. Hey! I’m cool with that!…….not that I’ve set my skepticism aside.
The original bid that ATS&R sent in was too high to suit our Administration (although six figures had been suggested to us early on as a possible expense the District would bear. Now they need it to defend themselves in court.) ATS&R’s was also the only bid. After receiving it the Administration made it clear that nothing would come of it. At some point the price was negotiated down to five figures, $70,000. The special board meeting to vote on this contract with ATS&R reps preceded the Committee of the Whole. I missed the presentation and was amazed when I realized what the Board was voting for. Only Gary Glass voted against it. He’s a skeptic too.
Its been evident from recent letters to Let Duluth Vote from the District’s Finance Director’s that the District has grown more anxious about completing the review and comment. Just why has been a mystery to us. Could the State Attorney General be prodding the District? Is this a last minute effort to win back Duluth by showing that the Board really does care? Is it hoped that the resulting Plan B Review and Comment will be panned by the Dept of Education so that the Board can be vindicated for dragging its feet?
The last possibility seems the most likely explanation but Let Duluth Vote welcomes the chance to develop our plan. Sometimes its best not to look too closely in a gift horse’s mouth.