Posts that began in my head over a week before but which become placeholders for me to finish are a pain. Life goes on and so does my attention. I am not only watching the developments in the School District campaign ahead but in China and in the ongoing Trumpaloonia. And the books that I’ve been digging into to provide me context on my grandfather’s life for a book that I would like to write – Well, they are on hold too. I’d love to get the book finished by the time the 100th anniversary of his being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor takes place. But I’ve got a darned school board race to run and China to study before my summer travels.
So, about the Trifecta. Supt. Gronseth had a very good couple of days. Candidates that he can count on to support him no matter what won all the DFL endorsements. That was his first success – trifecta part one, although it’s no guarantee that these candidates will win in the Fall, five months from now. Not having the endorsement hasn’t stopped me from getting elected to the Board 3 times. However, its always nice to have the entire city leafleted with your propaganda a week or two before the election and I expect the Democrats to be energized after last year’s debacle. I began writing about this as part one of the “Trifecta’s” but I’ve lost interest and my reporting some of the details might make people unnecessarily mad at me. I am a politician and making people mad by being “impolitic” has its costs.
Trifecta Part two was the conclusion of the teacher contract negotiations. Once again it was/is an interesting story with details that might make people unnecessarily wary of me. I had people nervous even hinting at things that took place during the Board’s closed meetings. Perhaps that quality helped us reach a contract that gave the teachers less than two successive years of 2% pay increases which is what the State Legislature embedded into the Education bill. The wiggle room we achieved has just allowed the Superintendent to come up with new spending that will soothe some savage breasts. There has been a simmering anger over moving some principals to new schools. One particular hot bed was in Rosie Loeffler-Kemp’s 1st District. Now those reassignments are kaput which puts out the fire and last night the Superintendent gave all the credit to Rosie for having made the parents happy. No such thing occurred but Rosie is his gal. He has also credited her with being the force behind replacing the rubber playground mulch even though Rosie came a year late to the party. Rosie was one of the two Board members who jumped down my throat in closed meeting to discuss our teacher contract negotiations. Ironically, the agreement we got has allowed the Superintendent to placate her first District voters.
Trifecta Part three was the unexpected news at the beginning of last week that the Edison schools have, at least for the time being, given up on building a new high school. This is a subject that put the Superintendent’s majority at some risk because it entailed turning down $14 million badly needed dollars and left continuing to take $3.3 million out of the general fund for Red Plan bond repayments. I talked with the Superintendent about this briefly a couple days ago and he restated his position, that has some merit. Mr. Gronseth argues that the loss of 400 or more high school students to an Edison High would damage our District in the long run – even close Denfeld. On the other hand, turning our back on “competitors” cost us even more than $14 million. By the time you consider the Many Rivers Montessori offers and the rehabbing of Rockridge you could argue that the District lost twenty million. If that loss damages our credibility with angry voters when we next offer an operational levy referendum that would add millions more to the loss. It dwarfs the teacher contract settlement savings we just negotiated. We let a couple birds in the hand fly off. Now only time will tell whether these building non-sales will haunt us. For once I am inclined to believe in ghosts.
There was much more to these trifecti for me to tell than I’ve shared here. Maybe I’ll dredge some of the gritty details out in the future. But for now that’s it. I’m headed to China for my next post.