I vote no

We have a Board policy, it was around when I served on the Board a decade ago, that forbids school board members from predicting the outcome of a vote. I ignored it then because it was stupid and it still is. Tonight the School Board will vote on and approve the Teacher’s Contract.

This means I’m in good company. Recent Boards have a habit of ignoring Board policy. For instance, I was just kept out of a teacher’s contract negotiation despite the policy that says all Board members serve on the negotiations committee.

In a fury I sent my colleagues an email. I said in part:

“We have no idea what our future fiscal situation is but from the small part of the sessions I was permitted to attend it looks grimmer than I’ve described it before. If a contract is brought to us, sans my participation [in the contract negotiations], that I view as destructive to the District and our children I’ll make that case in public with particular ardor considering how I bent over backwards to explain to Red Plan foes how we would use the recent levy increase to lower class sizes. ”

My volunteer, now far away asked me about what seemed to him a reasonable contract. Here’s our email conversation.

On Fri, May 2, 2014 [my volunteer] wrote:


Cool. Please tell me more about why you are opposed to the new teacher’s contract. It would seem, on the face of it, to be very reasonable on their part, what with such small annual cost of living adjustments.

On Mon, May 5, 2014 at 9:02 AM, < harrywelty@charter.net> wrote:

The budget forecast for four years from now when I would run for reelection is a $12 million deficit. That is more than twice as many fired teachers than the recent levy will allow us to hire.


From: [my volunteer]
Date:05/05/2014 3:28 PM (GMT-06:00)
To: Harry Welty

Is there no other way to save money/bring money in? Unhappy teachers = unhappy students = unhappy parents = further tax revolts, n’est ce pas?

Now that I know the “meat and potatoes” statistics, I find myself in agreement with you. Do all school districts spend such a high percentage of their budgets on labor, or is Duluth different in some way?

On Mon, May 5, 2014 at 4:12 PM, harrywelty wrote:

80 percent of our expenditures are for labor. Our teachers wages are 15th highest out of 300 district’s in the state. We can either have more teachers with lower wages or fewer with higher wages. With 40 kids in a class we have opted for the wrong formula.

In closing I’ll note this: We can either pay our teachers more by having fewer of them or we can have more of them by paying them less. We will be having fewer of them in Duluth with this contract.

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