Minnesota School Boards in Concert

I just snapped this picture of all my monthly school board books (meeting agendas and accompanying documents) from 2014 through 2017. As you can see I ran out of room in my file cabinet after two years and piled the last two year’s worth on top of my file cabinet. I had twice as many, eight years worth, after I retired from the Board in 2004.

When I retired then I tore out all the minutes of each meeting and tossed the rest. Two file drawers were freed up. This time I’ll only get one empty drawer but that space is badly needed as I begin to focus on researching and writing some books. Besides, if I wanted to look through these old books they are located (for the time being) in the Business office. That could change. Our Administration is hellbent to go paperless and digitize all of the District’s docs. There is a move to give all Board members “Chrome books,” an electronic tablet, starting after the new school board is seated to put an end to paper. I won’t miss the new regime. I’m a happy forest eater.

Although I don’t often go back through old board books I did this morning because I’m not leaving the Board a happy camper. I attended a state School Board meeting on Saturday to decide what issues the MSBA (Minn School Board Assn) will lobby the legislature for. The meetings are the “Delegate Assembly” and I was one of the duly elected delegates from District 27 composed of a dozen districts near Duluth. My seatmate on the Board, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, was also elected.

The MSBA Legislative Assembly began seventy years ago to decide on a platform to push in the legislature. I attended them regularly for the first eight years I was on the School Board. Resolutions are traditionally brought to to the Assembly by individual school boards but occasionally they are brought by board members with an axe to grind without their Board’s support. Such was the case three years ago when Art Johnston and I introduced a resolution to kill the state law that lets a school board expel a board member the majority doesn’t like. We didn’t win that argument.

For most of the last twenty years our School Board (other than me) have paid scant attention to the Delegate Assembly. So, you can imagine my surprise to find that four of the 16 proposals considered by the Delegate Assembly came from the Duluth School Board. Of these four the MSBA leadership opposed three of them including one that seemed intent on causing a civil war between Independent School District’s and Minnesota’s 150 or so Charter Schools.

BE IT RESOLVED, THAT MSBA URGES THE LEGISLATURE TO REMOVE THE OBLIGATION OF LOCAL DISTRICTS TO COVER SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDING GAPS FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS.

Rosie Loeffler-Kemp was hot for this resolution but it died for lack of a second. Rosie did speak up at the microphone for one of the Duluth resolutions which asked that the fee to file for the school board be raised from 2 dollars to $20. To my delight, several school board members argued eloquently that such a change seemed anti-democratic after Rosie argued that the proposal would keep riffraff from filing for public office and thus making school board elections unpleasant. Rosie likes to keep things simple. Its been rumored that she attended a recent elementary school PTA meeting and explained that in the future she expected our School Board meetings would only last an hour from now on. (no more three and four hour meetings). The rumor further suggested that Rosie was confident that the School Board would begin being more supportive of the school administration. This should be a comfort to our Superintendent who could barely contain his excitement the day following the School Board election.