A pleasant day ends with a nightmare

I got my grandson’s to school a little after eight and scurried home to prepare for a meeting with my fellow school board members and the Superintendent. BUT AT NO TIME WAS THERE A QUORUM WHICH VIOLATED THE MINNESOTA OPEN MEETING LAW!!!!!

This is something new that Supt. Gronseth ran with. He is meeting once a month with all the Board in a series of one hour meetings. He and Chair Kirby attend all of the three one-hour meetings. Two other Board members meet Chair Kirby and the Superintendent for a single hour. (That’s three board members. It takes four to make a quorum) Today at 8AM it was Art and Annie. (Art was in Florida so me missed his meeting and rescheduled a meeting next week with the Super) At 9 it was Alanna and Rosie. At 10 it was Nora and me. In my conversations with Alanna her group talked about different subjects than my group. Frankly, however suspicious this might strike folks had we done something like this three years ago we might have averted the Art Johnston catastrophe. There was almost no casual conversation between board members other than at tense and strained School Board meetings.

We as a board need to get to know one another. That is the surest way to avoid stupid and damaging presumptions which lead to paranoia.

After my meeting, during which I learned some interesting things not all of which were sunshine and roses, I was in a good mood. I went to the fitness center and swam a 1,000 yards. I set up a campaign banking account and then returned home to some interesting phone calls, one in particular.

One of the mulch mothers called to lobby me. She was grateful for my donation to the fund raiser (the snow sculpture) but wanted to hear me say she could count on me to vote for an immediate replacement in a single year of every school playground. I had a lovely conversation in which I jokingly refused to be pinned down no matter how firmly she tried to press my wings to the pinning board. She told me something that would later raise some questions for me and that paranoia which is so destructive.

One Board member has been telling all the parents that she supports a three-year replacement. I was surprised to hear this because this was my idea originally. I’ve since sort of shrugged it off as likely more expensive but I told the parent I needed to see the bids next week before making a 100 percent guarantee that I would move for a one year replacement in all our playgrounds.

Well, tonight Alanna went into our online Board book and discovered what the damages will be. Most of the parents were confident the costs would be in the neighborhood of $400,000 an easy peasey price to accept. Alanna told me that the bid came in at $1.2 million and that it will be three years before the last playground is fixed. Our consultant on this charged us $100,000 for this unhappy result.

I will be scrambling for some other solution. Perhaps we could have our parents remove the mulch themselves and we could put in wood chips and then bid out the necessary engineering to make the playgrounds safe in the years ahead. We will have a lot of furious parents. Frankly, tonight I am at a loss.

This adds to my skepticism about consultants a worry that was aptly described in Loren Martel’s latest column in today’s reader.