Category Archives: Duluth Schools

On the backs of our teachers and children

Much to my annoyance this link takes you to the video of yesterday’s School Board’s special meeting that won’t play for me. That’s where we reauthorized bonding for $3 million in construction that would mostly have been unnecessary if we had simply sold Rockridge Elementary to a “competitor” Many Rivers Academy or sold them Nettleton which still sits empty on the market. Instead we were forced to spend a lot of money on this school to educate the non residential students from Woodland Hills (now the “Hills”). We had to reauthorize it because we are asking the city to let Rockridge be used as a school again after asking them to take away that zoning so we could sell the building to pay off part of the Red Plan.

The Hills simply sold our old Cobb school to Many Rivers so we lost a buyer and Many Rivers got one of our old schools anyway.

I made that point in a more business-like fashion at the meeting which I thought made a nice contrast with yesterday’s informal video chat that I appended to the previous post.

Our finances drive me nuts. After my soliloquy the only non candidate/non employee witness at our meeting said he wished that the two folks he had spoken to a short time ago had heard the meeting. They had insisted that ISD 709 had to fix up the old schools because they had never been taken cared for. This trope took on two silly myths. First, that old School Board’s neglected their duty to fix up the Duluth schools. Second, that having allowed them to become decrepit there was nothing we could do but spend half a billion dollars on the Red Plan.

What the last ten year’s worth of School Boards did was insist that they were going to save us half the cost of new schools with energy savings and efficiencies. That was nonsense. As my trading cards make clear, and as I have suggested for the last ten years, all they did was fire teachers to pay for new schools. Today we only put $2.5 million of our $31 million dollars of property taxes into the classroom. Twenty years ago we put $14 million of $23.5 million into the classrooms. 137 teachers were let go to pay for those buildings. Now we are borrowing more because of a policy that handcuffs common fiscal sense.

I’m heading off to the airport in ten minutes to fly to a family reunion in Colorado for the next four days. But I’m taking my computer. I may want to add some more posts while I’m away. I have one in mind about one of the genius’s who made it possible to pay for the Red Plan on the backs of our children. I think I’ll title it Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Hoheisel. I’ll have to be careful though. He likes to threaten to sue people.

Big Boo Boo

I made quite a fuss in this recent post about our lost ISD 709 students (30% of the total students we could be educating) only being lost do to “open enrollment” to neihboring Districts. In that post I incorrectly explained, “By the way, Open Enrollment DOES NOT INCLUDE ENROLLMENT IN CHARTER SCHOOLS!!!!! That’s extra.”

I was sooooooo wrong. I am prone to such mistakes when I hastily review old info without reading it carefully. It turns out that charter school students are the bulk of the students 709 has lost.

Ironically, the Red Plan was partly motivated by the hope that our new schools would lure the charter students back in the system. But in the complicated game of chess for enrollment it did not occur to the Duluth School Board that state law permitted our Charters from using state money to build their own new school. So, the Red Plan did help drive more students to Charters because of a chaotic transition from old schools to new schools.

But the fact remains – I WAS IN ERROR.

Trust me. It won’t be my last mistake.

August blogging, campaigning, and family life

I’ve had an uptick in visitors since I resumed blogging after my return from China. There will be much more to add as the school board campaign kicks into gear but as I’ve told candidates for the School Board people still have summer on their minds and tearing their attention away to what comes after Labor Day will not be easy. I have already done more early campaigning than I’ve done in years preparing campaign materials coaching other candidates etc. And my summer, or rather my family’s summer, is not yet over.

Yesterday my brother-in-law showed up for a long weekend primed to take my grandsons fishing. I did manage to pick up my first 10,000 flyers yesterday but as I look at my calendar for August I’ll only have Monday to pass them out before flying to Colorado on Tuesday after the Business Committee meeting. I’m heading to a family reunion in the Rockies for a remembrance of my Uncle Frank who died a few days after I left him in Denver last January. Then on Saturday or Sunday following my return I’m going to take my oldest grandson on a trip to wherever it is cloud free to watch the eclipse. We are determined to enjoy it for all of its 2 minutes and forty seconds of totality. I am very psyched for this trip with him. It was looking like I’d have to go solo as other folks in my family have important things on their calendar that will keep them in town. The Tan Man loves science and I’ve charged him to do some research before we leave.

It will only be after our return, August 22nd or so, that I’ll be able be able to pass out the bulk of those ten thousand flyers. Hopefully I’ll be able to double that if my fundraising kicks in. I am almost resolved to stop spending any more of my money on this campaign. I care deeply about remaining on the School Board now that some semblance of sanity has taken hold of it but I don’t like the idea of buying the darned office.

I think there will be a surprise coming up. The Superintendent has forecast that is going to be an ugly campaign but dogged Art Johnston has made unending inquiries and I think he has finally uncovered a fuller explanation for why Dixon’s Duluth School Board unwittingly took $11.5 million local dollars out of the classroom leaving them a shambles.

All that is yet to come so I hope my eight loyal readers will forgive this teaser and my next break away from keeping them informed about the doings of the Duluth Schools.

I think this campaign will finally be rational. If I’m right, it will pit the School Board’s constitutional duty to act as management against a long recent tradition of school boards ineptly trying to sweep embarassments under the rug in a lame excuse for salesmanship.

Small World

Shepherding my grandsons around I forgot to check my calendar this morning. No problem. Memorial Blood Bank called to ask why I was late for my 92nd pint contribution. They told me it was OK if I showed up half an hour late. I hurried over and saw that someone had just signed in five minutes before I arrived before being handed the new form about iron deficiency.

I was hustled through the Q and A and blood pressure test and when I sat down to share myself I saw that the 10:30 donation was Deanna Gronseth, the Superintendent’s better half. We greeted each other and I joked about how it had been “long time no see.” She had, in fact, been one of the fourteen teachers at the Tuesday candidate screening committee.

Deanna has both feet in public education. She is a member of the Hermantown School Board and like Sarah Dixon, the wife of her husband’s mentor, she has an office just a stone’s throw from the Superintendent on the second floor of Old Central. She’s been sitting through a lot of our recent school board meetings this year so I shouldn’t have been surprised to see her at the Screening.

Her’s was one of the last small groups that I had my four minute session with and as I recall I was asked about the evaluation of employees. I told Deanna that I believed a healthy school system would treat its staff with respect and give them the freedom to experiment and make mistakes. I repeated the mantra about students learning from their mistakes a couple times that evening and I believe the same goes for our employees. I said that staff who were worried about being blamed and who refused to stretch to their limit would be unlikely to become very successful. Looking over one’s back makes forward thinking difficult.

I teased Deanna at the blood bank that if she hadn’t had a head start I’d have raced her to finish my donation first. When she ducked out into the rainy day I was holding my arm up compressing my inner elbow and being asked what color bandage I wanted. It looked like I was waving to her. I chose red.

Spirit Valley Days not. . .

. . . Spirit Mountain Days. I had two people correct me about that faulty post.

I attended the “family day” part of it late this afternoon and had a blast. That makes today my first official day of pressing the flesh. And most of it was with kids except that I didn’t offer them my hand to shake I offered them one of my trading cards.

Here is a picture I took of them this afternoon mixing them up so I could hand them out randomly at Memorial Park. One of the cards has a snow sculpture that I made 15 years ago at the park for the Spirit Valley Winter carnival. Valley, Valley, Valley! Got to get that right.

I told the kids that they were “snow sculpture trading cards” and the kids were so nice and polite thanking me for giving them the cards. “Did you make this?” was a typical reaction. To their parents I would say, “They are really political literature disguised as trading cards.” The parents seemed amused except for one fellow, a civil engineer, who wondered how I found the time to make them. “I had thirty years to make them” I sputtered. Then he turned around and pointed to the pile of pea rock by the Laura MacArthur playground and asked why the School Board had spent a million dollars to replace perfectly good rubber tire mulch that protected kids from falls with wood chips. I was not prepared to switch gears……not with a civil engineer! Heck, he told me, even California hasn’t said rubber tire playgrounds were unsafe and they think everything is bad. “Democrats!” he said, summing up his disgust.

Rubber tire mulch or not this is going to be a fun campaign. After I got back home a friend brought me some wire stands for my lawnsigns……I’d given all of mine away after the last campaign. Then another friend called to tell me that he/she would be putting an ad in the Duluth Reader sticking up for me next week. And I’ll probably have all that I need to start going door to door by Wednesday or Thursday. Maybe I’ll even find time to do some fundraising.

Anybody want to donate to my campaign for a deck of snow sculpture trading cards?

Testing one, two, three

Back to business. I still have two weeks of Tribs to read and I’ve got to see if my “trading cards” are ready yet. And this morning my nephew paid us a call ending a seven year estrangement between our families. He’s a new Dad and that means new leaves being turned over. I’m delighted.

But like I began – back to business. I read this story in the Minneapolis paper last night and its in the DNT today. This will have implications for Duluth which I can not yet thoroughly discern. Second paragraph:

The new plan would take full effect in the 2018-19 school year. It replaces the ratings and labels given to public schools based on their performance with one that focuses on the lowest-performing 5 percent of Title 1-funded schools. It also would identify high schools with a graduation rate below 67 percent or where any student group — black, Asian, Latino or low-income, for example — falls below a 67 percent graduation rate.

This story screams “EQUITY!”

Good. That’s one of the three legs of my campaign and you can find it on the back of my trading cards. “EQUITY-HONESTY-EXPERIENCE” I better go pick them up if they are ready and begin passing them out at Spirit Mountain Days. Tomorrow though. Its too wet today.

I might even need to spend some time working on my clunky campaign webpage:

Loren lays it on a little thick. Thanks!

Loren Martell’s account of the June School Board meeting has finally made it to the Duluth Reader. Loren dwells on many speakers at the outset who argued that the western schools should have been allowed to keep their existing principals as the eastern schools were. Then he tacks to Art Johnston who was unhappy about a range of equity issues including the principals. Equity should be the main issue in this School Board campaign.

Loren, heaped far more praise on me than I deserved for voting against the teacher’s contract I helped negotiate. I’m grateful for Loren’s exposition which explains how I could help to negotiate it but then turnaround and vote against it at our Board meeting. It was purely a symbolic vote and much of my justification was simply a restatement of the negotiating teacher’s own platform. Here’s Loren’s full account of my statement intelligently cut down to size:

The bravest person in the boardroom this evening, by a long shot, was Harry Welty. Particularly considering the fact that he is facing reelection, board member Welty was a tower of courage. The DFL/Labor dynasty that dominates Duluth will have a target on Mr. Welty’s back for the stand he took this evening.

“It’s important to make a couple of points that we, as a community, need to understand.” Continue reading

A brief recent email conversation about equity in the Duluth Schools

Sent to all School Board members:


My Reply to W:

The reasons are as simple as they are pathetic.

1. Precedent – because we are abiding by the letter of the law (now but not always) and use half of the funds to lower class size across the whole district and to fund our Curriculum Dept. (For which other funds should be made available.)

2. Political deference to Eastern voters if not outright fear of their reaction if we pulled half a million dollars out of their schools to send it to the schools with a higher free and reduced student population.

W pushes back:


I explain:

Current Minn law requires only 50% of the $ to follow students.

The Fiscal peril for ISD 709

Twenty years ago I regularly expressed concern about the long-term financial security of ISD 709. I used to call myself a “Cassandra.” In 2010 I handed over that honorific to Loren Martell. Never would I have imagined that the Red Plan would plunge us into such a precarious situation that we would lose 30% of our students to neighboring school Districts, suffer a vast increase in our classroom sizes, and commit tens of millions of our general fund to paying off bank loans for new buildings.

When I quit the school board in 2004 I had erroneously concluded that Duluth would never close the extra high school we had so that we could move about $1.5 million annually to classroom spending and new programs. Today, after the last decade of fiscal insanity, we are spending more than double that sum out of our General Fund each year to pay off the Red Plan. In addition we have squandered two or three chances to sell the old schools we are saddled with even though the Red Plan’s financial promises were contingent on such sales. That’s another $20 million lost. Plus, the Dixon Administration spent down our ten percent Fund reserve leaving our district to live on fumes while putting us at risk every time a summer fiscal cold gave us the sniffles.

Last night I went to a meeting our district’s official committee for the minority community to discuss one such unanticipated sniffle – a threat from the Minnesota Dept. of Education to take $1.6 million in “Achievement and Integration” aid away from us next year. Although the DNT’s Jana H. wasn’t at the meeting she covered the story in today’s Trib. In short, Supt. Gronseth thinks the MDE will change its mind. If it doesn’t… will be one more lousy bit of news that our year long budgeting process failed to take note of and which will inflict one more of the “thousands cuts” we continue to endure.

And yesterday Jana covered Art Johnston’s long ignored efforts to refinance our killing Red Plan debt repayments which take that $3.4 million out of our classrooms. At our Tuesday meeting Nora Sandstad helpfully reworked the wording of a resolution that the Board had earlier rebuffed to direct the Administration to explore opportunities that might undo some of this damage.

My hope of finding a solution short of more taxes has dimmed but its great to see our School Board covering all the bases just in case we can bulk up our financial immunity from these summer colds.

By the way, while the DFL Club’s endorsees for the School Board have been largely absent from School District meetings both Kurt Kuehn, and Bogdana Krivogorsky have been near constant presences at them. I much prefer candidates who do the long hard research (like enduring butt-wearying, four-hour-long meetings) to those who want to join in on the blissful ignorance which has so often typified Duluth School Board members over the past decade.

And don’t forget to visit

Say “simple summary sans soliloquys” ten times fast

That happy little alteration comes courtesy of the last post. Its as good a title to introduce my thoughts on yesterday’s very pregnant school board meeting. The forgone conclusions to approve our teacher contract and our budget and our Superintendent’s right to reassign principals were all fraught with anguished explanations and symbolic votes. Here’s my brief take on our deliberations.

Jana said of my symbolic vote against the teacher’s contract I helped negotiate:

Welty, who sat in on negotiations, said he had intended to vote for the contracts, but decided against it considering the teachers union’s stated goals during those negotiations of wanting to work to better meet the mental and emotional needs of kids.

“It is my sense that the finances of our district are such that (the contract increases) will make doing student-centered advocacy more difficult,” he said.

I was the lone vote against a contract that in essence required give and take by both sides. Even so, most board members trembled at the second contract we approved for 3 and 4 years out. A long hard conversation with Loren Martell a day earlier made me reconsider my vote to support the contract. Nora Sandstad was right to be put off by my change of heart because I did not express the same reservations when we were in closed session that I did publicly last night.

At the one hour 50 minute point in the meeting

I read the introductory language offered us by the teachers at the outset of the negotiations. This language emphasized the teacher’s determination that we help the whole student including social and emotional needs. I went on to explain with some passion, if not much eloquence, why my lone symbolic vote against the contract was intended to show Duluth that our schools would continue to come up short in the coming years in meeting those needs. We need more staff and these contracts do not give us room to hire more staff.

By the same token Alanna Oswald cast a lone vote against our budget later during our discussion of the Business Committee meeting.

Art Johnston offered an amendment that demanded that we look at a transition over the coming years to make sure that we spend an ever increasing percentage of Compensatory Education revenue on the schools that generate the funds with their larger “free and reduced” student populations. Still, the resolution deferred that decision till after next year.

By the same token there was a lot of temporizing about bending to the will of parents where the reassignment of principals was concerned. But again the Board did not intrude on the Superintendent’s authority. I did point out that while I was sure “educational” concerns were the primary motivation behind these decisions they might very well have political consequences. While parents in Rosie Loeffler-Kemp’s end of town were placated Laura Mac has a lot of unhappy parents.

Shakespeare could have been summing up this meeting when he wrote about “sound and fury signifying nothing.” In five months time we will discover if the voters signify nothing.

Did you catch my simple math error?

A friend texted me this morning pointing out that 18% of 2000 Proctor students is 360. I immediately knew what she meant.

From the previous post on our sending busses into neighboring School Districts to entice open enrollment students I wrote this:

“A hasty check of Wikipedia shows that Proctor has about 2000 students and Jana’s story reports that 18% of them come from Duluth. That would be another 180 lost Duluth students to add to the chart above.” As I lamely replied sometimes my brain doesn’t work but that doesnt stop my busy fingers.

The additional 180 students brings the number of our students lost to neighboring districts (not counting charter, parochial or private schools) to close to 1000 students. More of the Red Plan’s legacy not counting the ongoing $3.4 million annual transfer out of our general fund to pay off the damned Red Plan bonds that costs us 36 teachers each year.

Yesterday’s four hour school board meeting was full and Jana did a nice simple summary sans soliloquys by anguished Board members like me. More on mine in the next post.

Moving principals

The most recent hot topic in ISD 709 has been a proposed move of principals. This is the Superintendent’s decision to make but four moves he has planned have caused several grass fires. He backed off of a couple changes at Homecroft and Lakewood out east but is proceeding with two changes at Stowe and Laura MacArthur out west. This has made the western parents feel they have been treated as second class parents.

Among them will be a number of parents from Laura Mac tonight which, I was informed by email, has gathered 355 parents names on a petition to ask the superintendent to reconsider the change.

We may have a very long period of public comment tonight.

Annie’s riposte to busses from Proctor et al

Alanna Oswald posted on Facebook that she has been trying to get these figures for ages. They come from Jana Hollingsworth’s story about how ISD 709 is trying to claw back its outward bound open enrollment students. What has happened since the Long Range Facilities Plan (Red Plan) has been a great exodus of Duluth students to other schools. I’ve tried to guess at the outflow. I’ve suggested that we have lost 10 to 15%. Jana reports: “30 percent of Duluth district residents were enrolled elsewhere.”

The largest number of those students attend the Edison charter schools and that was true well before the Red Plan which some board members hoped would lure them back. Instead they built a new school too and took even more of our students since we had no agreement for an enrollment cap with them.

When I retired from the school board my recollection is that we had a surplus of about 500 open enrolled students meaning that more kids were coming into Duluth from outlying school districts than leaving.

This chart leaves out the Duluth students enrolled in the Proctor District which has sent busses into Duluth. A hasty check of Wikipedia shows that Proctor has about 2000 students and Jana’s story reports that 18% of them come from Duluth. That would be another 360 lost Duluth students to add to the chart above.

As the title suggests the idea of sending our buses into the neighboring districts to lure the students back was Annie Harala’s and was prompted by parents of western students who thought we should reciprocate. I guess I can’t complain since the costs of sending our busses in search of new students has been described as nominal. Whether they will fill up is another matter.

Martel on Maintenance

I’m not sure how many of Loren’s recent columns I have failed to mention. They seem to have been coming out weekly just as I began digging in to do some serious gardening and yard work. The latest begins by quoting my poor pun at the last meeting about our being between a “Rockridge and a hard place” and then veers into the land of the worst case scenario with regard to twenty plus million in building and maintenance costs we are faced with but for which there are no current resources to address.

Loren is right and he has yet to talk about the two contracts with teachers we are likely to approve tonight and which I finally got a chance to play a small part in helping to negotiate.

If the maintenance costs are driving Loren to despair he will likely be positively apoplectic about the contract settlement. Can’t say as I blame him.

Keen on Kuehn

Photo by: Bob King /

I was pleased to see this picture on the anniversary of Duluth’s infamous lynching because one of the new school board candidates is pictured in it, Kurt Kuehn (pronounced KEEN). The caption below had his comments on the grim history, to wit:

“It’s always inspirational,” said Kurt Kuehn of Duluth, about the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do.” Kuehn attended the memorial event Thursday honoring the three black men who were lynched in 1920 after being falsely accused of rape.

Kurt is running in District One currently represented by Rosie Loeffler-Kemp.

Although I have often written about the Clayton Jackson McGhie lynching I did not attend this particular event. Art Johnston and Alanna Oswald and Rosie Loeffler-Kemp represented the School District.

CORRECTION: When I posted this yesterday I incorrectly said that Board member Rosie Loeffler-Kemp was forty minutes late. That was wrong. Rosie was present shortly after the presentation began. As I said I was not in attendance. It was Jill Lofald, Art Johnston’s 4th District challenger who was late.

Having mis-remembered what I had been told about the order of appearance of Board members at the Lynching memorial I was a little too eager to link to an unflattering anecdote about Rosie that did not put her in a good light. After having served on the Duluth School Board with Rosie for the past three years I am still inclined to link to those unflattering 2015 posts heret and here.

I have to be careful that when I replant the rhubarb today…

…my head doesn’t fall off into the hole with the manure.

I have good reason to worry about this because, as I just told an unhappy ISD 709 parent who reads my blog, “I have so much in my head to blog about that right now its lying on my floor and if I move to fast it will snap off.

On the other hand, I have five months before the November election to get things off my chest on Lincolndemocrat so maybe I don’t have to do five months worth of blog posts in the next five days. I can probably spread them out.

The Superintendent’s trifecta

I called the Trib’s education reporter Jana Hollingsworth on Tuesday and told her about the tentative settlement of the teachers contract. When she picked up the phone I asked if I’d reached the “Hollingsworth News Tribune.” Her stories that day (four of them) covered the front page. She laughed.

Sorry, I’ve got more gardening to do. I just put this here to force myself to write this post which should have been posted on Wednesday)


Ah, now I’m back. It’s 2:15 AM Saturday. This not my preferred time to blog, but what can you do when the cares of the day invade the night?

So Saturday last, the Superintendent enjoyed the first of three remarkable bits of good news which would continue through Tuesday. On this day the Duluth DFL would emerge from its slumbers much like the United States did after the attack on Pearl Harbor. For the Democrats the alarm was spread not on December 7th, 1941, but on November 8th, 2016, the day of Donald Trump’s election. Almost 300 delegates would be seated to endorse candidates for municipal offices for the first Duluth election following that earthquake.


I had only attended one other DFL endorsing convention and it was quite a contrast. It was 1999 and I was still a nominal Republican. But my good friend Mary Cameron hoped to earn the DFL endorsement and asked me, her de facto if not official campaign manager, to give her moral support at that year’s endorsing convention. I agreed and sat somewhat awkwardly in a small room at the YWCA.

If there were forty people in the room I’d be surprised. It was all the DFL regulars, AFSCME leaders, the candidates, the new school board members elected in 1997 that dearly wanted to take control of the Board, and me, a lone Republican, sitting beside Mary. She didn’t stand a chance. Neither did she stand a chance in her reelection campaign. She was smeared for deciding to stay on the Board while commuting to Syracuse, NY to earn her Masters Degree. It was a campaign organized by fellow school board members who wanted to improve their 4-5 minority status by removing our only real “minority” member and me. I got re-elected despite being “targeted” by the DFT President and May won vindication after completing her Master’s and ended up ousting the Board member who had ousted her in 1999.

(I was able to confirm my memories of this thanks to the “Wayback Machine” which has been capturing websites and recording them for the past two decades. I found several news stories I captured of that Era. Pouring through it is a great time waster.)




Sorry, Anybody who thinks writing is a breeze I’ve been at this for two hours – mostly researching. I’ll post this prologue and work on the Trifecta parts later after I make another go at getting some shut eye. Hope I can sleep through the thunder storm that’s just started.

More old news stories from

Crisis of the moment – a friend sends me an email

From a friend:

Hi Harry!

I’m sorry to have to come to you with a concern, but I hope you can help!

It has come to my attention that the school board intends to vote on Superintendent Gronseth’s budget at your next meeting. Gronseth has proposed cutting the principal at Homecroft Elementary to a .6 position. I do not support this proposal.

It has also come to my attention that Gronseth intends to move Principal Worden from Homecroft Elementary School and I am writing in protest of this decision.

I’m sure you are already aware that Homecroft has endured many changes in leadership in the few short years my child has been attending. If we start with a new principal this fall we will have had 6 principals in the last 12 years. If that’s not bad enough, we will have had 4 in the last 6! This lack of consistency needs to stop. Homecroft deserves a chance to build a long range vision with someone that can lead the charge and be supportive to staff in order to have positive lasting affects on our students.

Principal Worden has already set the ground work for a hopeful future at Homecroft Elementary. She has worked hard to build communication with parents, not just about happenings at school, but also regarding interactions parents can initiate to bolster our children’s education. It’s clear that Principal Worden is working for our kids and it could be very devastating to lose her leadership. I fear it could have a large, lasting affect on this wonderful community school.

I have expressed my concerns with Superintendent Gronseth and he has replied with a form letter that I’m sure several others have received already. I really don’t appreciate the language he’s used to make it sound like the position will be staffed at all times. .6 = 24 hours/week. If we subtract from that the time spent out of the building for regular principal commitments, we aren’t left with much time at all.

I do not support the budget proposal to cut our principal from full time and I strongly support that we keep the principal we have.

Thank you for giving this careful consideration,


And my TMI reply:


You and the children at Homecroft deserve a full time principal. Because we know each other through xxxxxxx I feel an extra responsibility to reply to your message quickly but I am doing so before having all the information at hand to be satisfied with my reply to you.

Remember my first sentence to you as I prattle on and know that I mean it. Continue reading

Settling the Contract –

I may have missed a story about the Teacher contract negotiations but they are likely over as we, Management, and Teachers, shook hands on Tuesday two days ago. The DFT has to take the proposal to the teachers for a vote and then it will come back to the School Board for the final OK – probably at a special meeting next week. To punctuate the conclusions of the negotiations the Superintendent led all concerned on a tour of Old Central’s Clock tower which I haven’t seen in better than a decade. Here are a couple of my pics of that celebration:


I don’t think I am obligated to mention the details of the contract but I did call both the Trib’s education reporter and Loren Martell to tell them it was over. According to Jana Hollingsworth once something is on paper it is public data. That sounds right but I have no idea if “the paper” been made available to her or Loren.

When it comes time to vote on this I will offer what I consider some sobering insights on the District’s financial future. That said, the State legislature offered up education funding increases that amounted to a 2% increase in each of the next two school years and our teachers, for an important and uncertain consideration, accepted less for these two years. That will give ISD 709 a tiny improvement in its fiscal situation for the next two years.

What will happen in the second consecutive approved contract (the third and fourth years) could be a disaster or a success for the District. Time will tell. Loren was aghast that we did not win concessions on our health care. It wasn’t going to happen with this board and could have caused a protracted year of more of bad feelings while we wrangled over an unsettled contract.

I have no idea if I will be on the Board in four years but I am I will want to have a long public study of the District’s finances to prepare the District for talks in the fifth and sixth years.

During one of the school board’s closed door talks it was suggested that the meager insights I put on the blog could get me censured again for not being a team player. That led to a testy 45 second discussion before we agreed to new parameters which were undoubtedly necessary for the quick end-of-year settlement we seem to have achieved. I hope the Union finds them entertaining when they become public.