It took the Duluth School Board four hours to complete the May, 2017 meeting.
For those of you who can’t wait for the Reader’s Loren Martel to unpack yesterday’s meeting in next week’s Reader I’ll mention a couple details.
It was a four hour marathon but a productive one. I counted 35 people in the audience at the midway point but noticed that six were looking at their cell phones. I highly recommend this distraction to help future audience members pass the time when I’m engaged in a sonorous monologue.
A half hour demonstration was scheduled before the meeting began to give High School speech competitors a chance to strut their stuff to the school board and early audience members. Their coach, Jill Lofald, is rumored to be contemplating a run for the School Board.
During the public comment time at the beginning of the meeting my friend, Henry Banks, took our Chair, Dr. Kirby, to task for an impolitic moment at a recent meeting with minorities. He addressed the people at the meeting with a “You people…….”
The good doctor is a fairly blunt spoken physician, something I much approve of when consulting doctors. But a poorly thought out “you people” can be a big turn off to people who resent being lumped together and stripped of their individuality. Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, learned this painful lesson when she put all her detractors in the “Deplorables” basket. It became a badge of honor for Trump supporters even those the Secretary of State had no wish to offend.
Henry spoke sternly but at one moment he seemed to be taking on a tone that challenged our “civility” code and Supt. Gronseth jotted down a question for me on a note pad. “Personal attack?” Although it was open season on anything we Board members had said publicly I was moved to fight my disengaged microphone to get the attention of the target of the “attack” Chair Kirby.
While the mikes were fiddled with Henry stood down and waited patiently until I was on air. I commended Chair Kirby for his restraint while facing criticism and noted that we might be heading into personal attack territory. I didn’t express myself with David Gergen’s concision when he said that the nation might be heading into “impeachment territory.”
Henry put up with my interruption and then resumed his objections which in my opinion did not too far breach the attack mode. He got a little round of applause from the audience.
while mulch took center stage it was not the only spending item we palavered over. We had a lenghty discussion about allowing the demographers RSP to finish its analysis and help the district draw new school boundaries. I was gratified when the vote swung my way with a little more room than I had anticipated. It was a 5-2 “no” vote. This seemed to be a harbinger of a kinder gentler school board.
There was one important decision left undecided after we had consumed four hours – whether and when to hold a meeting on equity as requested by the Denfeld parents. It appeared that such a meeting might be set to take place in July after our June budget setting meeting. July would be too late to easily re-adjust our spending to follow “free and reduced lunch” populations into the schools they attended. Art Johnston explained to the lone remaining Denfeld Equity champion after our meeting that Chair Kirby had promised we would hold a meeting with the Denfeld contingent. Three of us would call a special meeting if necessary. For my part I want the compensatory ed money distributed more closely to the spirit of the law and follow these children into their schools.