I just responded to the three questions sent me by the Chamber of Commerce. Here they are and here are my responses:
1. The Duluth School District recently adopted a comprehensive Long Range Facilities Plan. Do you support the implementation of the plan? State your position for or against.
I oppose this plan because it will do incalculable damage to our classrooms by inciting a taxpayer revolt which will cost $ 5 million a year in operational cuts after angry taxpayers start turning down excess levies for operating expenses.
2. Quality, cost-effective schools can be economic drivers by contributing educated workers with basic skills and retaining/attracting residents and businesses. How do you plan to promote these characteristics within our school district?
Shoddy, ill financed schools can cause economic stagnation as they drive ambitious, caring, parents out of a community seeking quality, cost effective schools. We must avoid this happening at all cost. To insure that our schools are attractive we must not trust foolish people with no sense of history or any understanding of Minnesota’s educational finance laws or the voters and taxpayers of Duluth.
3. Education options abound in Duluth. To compete, the public school system must constantly be promoting/implementing innovation and continuous improvement initiatives. What initiatives would you like to see in place, how would you promote these initiatives?
I have been a long time proponent of both closing a high school and passing excess levies. I’ve been the longest serving Board member advocating the former policy and had a key role in the passage of three of the last four excess levies. No one worked harder to pass the fourth levy that failed in 2001 than I did.
What we could do with our resources properly put into place is restore the rich seven-period-day, curriculum that we lost shortly after the 2001 excess levy failed. (Where the Hell was the Chamber on that one?) We could fully fund the middle school programming that we have been unable to pay for for a quarter of a century by, keeping our elementary schools K-6 and making our middle schools 7-9. We will then be able to offer a much fuller academic palette in our high schools including more AP (advanced placement) classes.