Category Archives: 2017 Sch. B. election

Hup – two – three – mulch. Hup – two – three – mulch.

The Trib reports that the Duluth School Board is giving playground mulch replacement new life and maybe a little quicker and cheaper:

The board was unanimous in its decision to rebid the playground project and change it to leave playground equipment in place, using cheaper safety measures to ensure kids aren’t hurt by that change. It is hoped that would save $300,000. District officials said the goal would be to have all 10 playgrounds finished by Oct. 1.

More borrowing for 709?

Or as the Trib’s banner headline read this morning. School projects could lead to debt.”

It is debatable whether the rubber tire mulch is a toxic threat and there were other locations to teach Woodland Hills students than Rockridge elementary School. That said, time, inaction and the June deadline for making budgetary decisions means the Board will likely pursue both projects.

I will cavil a bit at one obvious point about the headline. While certainly true, all budgets, whether that of a family; a business; or a non profit like a church; or the school District, is constantly weighting budgetary priorities. Did a neighbor kid without proper insurance back his or her car into your garage? Unless you are sitting on a big pile of cash you will have to do some budgetary juggling. And District 709 no longer has a ten percent reserve, the protection of which, consumed my first eight years on the School Board.

We will pay to remove the rubber mulch although quite possibly for half the cost trumpeted by the Trib thanks to Cory Kirsling and other PTSA parents. We will fix up Rockridge. Both will be paid for by local taxpayers. My concern is that it not come out of taxes designated for the classroom but that it come out of taxes destined for capital projects (for buildings).

Only $600,000 of the anticipated $3.6 million expense could be siphoned out of our General fund for the classroom. (Too much for my taste) The rest would or could come from taxes already levied. But we have ongoing capital needs for maintenance which would lose out if we robbed money already set aside for it in order to replace our mulch and re-purpose Rockridge.

Budgets are not static and always undergo change through any given year. It’s just that the District has precious little give these days as our priorities change. I am used to walking on thin ice. I just don’t expect to find any money I should break through it – just ice-cold water.

…………………………WeltyforSchoolBoard.com

Where the Red Plan demographers drew the line…

…that supposedly divided our school population into two equal halves. (this was sent to me by Art Johnston today as he reviews our current proposal to hire more demographers to help us plan possible new school boundaries)

I learned something about the Dixon years that helps explain today’s vast inequity between Denfeld and East.

I’ve groused for years about the financial pretzel twisting that the Dixon’s administration pulled off to finance the Red Plan and keep people happy at the same time eg. spending down the reserve, balloon payments on bond costs, raising taxes surreptitiously after making impossible promises, ignoring public referenda, laying off teachers and lying among other crimes that slip my mind. There was yet another action I’d not been aware of.

Dixon broke the law by handing out Minnesota compensatory education funds to eastern schools that should not have been given them.

At the time Minnesota required that 65% of comp ed funds to go to the schools based on the free and reduced lunches they served. The district was only allowed to spend 35% of the millions of Comp ed dollars throughout the District including eastern schools. But under Dixon’s division of the spoils only 35% of Comp ed Funds followed the free and reduced lunch kids into their schools not the 65% state law mandated. Eastern schools got to share an undeserved Comp ed bonanza.

Today we are abiding by the law’s requirements which have been altered from the Dixon days. The State now only requires that 50% of Comp Ed funds follow poor kids into their schools and we meet that rule. I presume that the GOP legislators who are big fans of “local control” and not fans of Comp Ed are responsible for the change.

…………………………WeltyforSchoolBoard.com

Denfeld Equity Questionaire

Yesterday my blog was down for much of the day. I presume this was the result of the worldwide hack. You can see it play out on this map over the day. I had no way to post and this one comes belatedly.

I had been sent this questionaire from the Denfeld Equity group and was reminded yesterday that I had not yet replied to it:

On April 18th, we provided a summary of our work outlining areas of inequity and specific recommendations for addressing them in the short term and longer term. We trust you have had plenty of time to consider them and now ask for your initial response.

We heard the administration’s desire to calculate the fiscal impacts of each of the recommendations before discussing the inequities. This approach, however, would sidestep the essential discussion of what is currently just vs unjust / acceptable vs unacceptable. Leadership requires that you articulate not merely what we can afford, but also what we must be committed to addressing.

The community engaged in these issues is eager to hear from you. We ask for your responses to the following questions by Thursday May 11th. Responding to our committee will allow us to share those replies with the larger community. Your response(s) will save you having to hear from and respond to each person individually.

1. How important is it that ISD709 do things for the 2017-18 school year that are not already being done to improve equity within the District?

2. Which examples of inequities and unmet needs are, for you, the most pressing? (this is not dependent on the cost of addressing them or inclusion on the list we generated, simply the most pressing inequities/needs)

3. Considering the four priority issues (not strategies) put forth by our group, which, if any, do you support addressing differently in some form in time for the 2017-18 school year?

Thank you for your response. We look forward to working with you to creatively consider how to address the pressing equity needs within the District.

Here was my belated reply: Continue reading

I’m still working on a campaign website

If, after today’s many ridiculous posts which began here, you would like to see me put my long experience, keen insights and cool demeanor to good use you could make an online contribution to my campaign.

I’m afraid to rent a PO Box this year for fear of letter bombs. Keep your donation under $100.00 and nobody has to be any the wiser. That’s state law!

Welty for School Board donation page.

Patience and Impatience

I have yet to go through the four paper copies of the Tribunes that were delivered to my door while I was away in Florida. I believe only one of them, last week’s Thursday edition mentioned the Duluth Schools and that only to inform the public which of the incumbents were planning on running for reelection. The news must have been in the Friday paper copy because I my quote was given to reporter Hollingsworth Thursday morning while Airport announcements were being made in the background.

I had to repeat myself to Jana because I whipped my answer out pretty fast. I said,

“I don’t think there is anybody better prepared to deal with the challenges of the Duluth school district than somebody with my long experience, my patience and my impatience.”

Jana, didn’t add the bolding to that last bit about my impatience but I think she chuckled a bit under her breath when I repeated it. Its been a long three plus years with two of them wasted on a futile and destructive attempt to undue the 2013 election. Four of the board members who brought that about are now off or soon to retire leaving only Rosie Loeffler-Kemp to defend her pro-removal record and Art Johnston and me on the other side of that catastrophe to seek public vindication. Its that waste of two years which prompted my reference to both patience and impatience. It could hardly be otherwise.

The last year has seen some recovery from the first two dark years which imitated in microcosm the trials and tribulations of Washington D.C. Let’s hope that the tweet machine, Donald Trump, isn’t elected to the Duluth School Board this fall to fix everything.

My visit to Florida over the weekend brought home the division across the land as I listened to FOX News and visited with in-laws with very different opinions on the state of America. Hand me the sutures, Nurse, and some cotton for a little mopping up.

Oh, and this New York Times piece over the weekend on the same set of issues caught my attention: How the Left learned to Hate like the Right.

Before I leave for Florida….

…where I’ll be wishing my father-in-law a Happy 90th Birthday, I’ll point my eight loyal readers to two stories about what’s happening in the Duluth School District.

Second, from tomorrow’s News Tribune there is this. It explains the school board’s sudden surprising (to me)lack of enthusiasm about employing RSP as our guides for further public input on resetting school boundaries. Suddenly equity has more of our Board’s attention than the uneven distribution of our school age population.

And First, giving vent to his frustration with demographer’s is the Duluth School Board’s most faithful chronicler, Loren Martell, in the Duluth Reader.

And while its not online yet there may be another DNT story tomorrow mentioning that I will be running for reelection to the Duluth School Board. I’m not sure any of the other incumbents has announced yet but I’m kinda counting one colleague to join me at his leisure.

Thank you’s

Years ago I attended some session during which a presenter made a good suggestion. She warned her listeners that it was easy to get discouraged and she suggested that we all collect thank yous and such. She thought that when we got down we could look in the old thank yous and remind ourselves that we weren’t such bad folks.

Until I got on the School Board in 1996 my little sunshine folder wasn’t very big. Then I started reading to classrooms.

I haven’t really looked at this box closely but last night I spread all the thank yous out on my office floor to make a little campaign video for a campaign webpage.

I don’t know if it will be ready before I fly off to Florida in a couple days to wish my Father-in-law a happy 90th birthday but it brought back a lot of nice memories. One of my thank yous was in braille.