Duluth’s unique Red Plan financing

The School Board has been lobbied by former member Tony Stauber to rethink vocational education which has taken a hit in the Duluth Schools. There seem to be a lot of educators rethinking the role of votech schooling in the age of student bankruptcies over college loan repayments.

But this reply to Tony from Art Johnston hints at a different kind of financing.

Hi Tony and always great to hear from you!

As you know, the former school board and Superintendent adopted the $293 (now $315) million Red Plan in 2007. It was originally planned to have ISD 709 keep and use the Secondary Technical Campus. In 2009, the former board and Superintendent modified the Red Plan, without public discussion, to close the STC and move many of those programs to Denfeld and East High School. So the STC, along with CHS, closed in 2011.

We still do have excellent technical programs in automotive technology, construction technology, food preparation, nursing, and horticultural programs. Many of these programs are receiving grants form various industries. Can we do better in our technical programs? I’m sure we can.

But I don’t believe that promoting technical education versus academic education is a zero-sum-game. We must to better all on segments of what we teach.
A bit of history: we are still paying the debt for the $6.6 million STC that was built in 1996. We still have about $1 million in payments to go before that debt is paid off. And we still have no buyers for either that STC,the Central High School buildings, or the site.

It is interesting to note that the STC was also constructed without a referendum in Duluth. There have been three schools projects in Minnesota done without a referendum: the STC (now closed); a school in St. Paul (now closed), and the Red Plan. According to MDE, those are the only major schools projects in Minnesota constructed by bypassing the referendum process. Hopefully, we have learned that listening to the public may have been a way to prevented these three less than optimal plans.

And listening to the public may have been a way to promote more jobs oriented HS programs as you are suggesting.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Art Johnston

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