“my unhelpful sarcasm”

Regarding the $30,000 to $40,000 contract to analyse Duluth’s student population:

Dear Ms. Harala, Ms. Loeffler-Kemp, Mr. Welty, and Mr. Miernicki:

We are contacting you today as the at large representatives for
ISD709; Board Chair, and ISD 709 District #1 representative.

Stacey Stark is the Director of the Geospatial Analysis Center (GAC)
and Laure Charleux is the Director of the GIS program at UMD.

We are concerned by what we read in the Duluth News Tribune on September 17, 2014 regarding the hiring of an out-of-state contractor
for the analysis of the ISD 709 school boundaries.

As professionals very familiar with the technical process of the boundary analysis, we know the $10,000 cost of the “address locator” service is extremely high. This process will require that the contractor obtain street data from the City of Duluth with accurate address ranges (the City has already invested in the development of these data). There is publicly available data for the streets outside of the City of Duluth that is quite accurate, and the contractor should not need to purchase any data. The City of Duluth, UMD Geospatial Analysis Center, and at least two GIS firms in Duluth could complete the process of address location (aka “geocoding”) for 9000 addresses at a much, much lower cost.

Furthermore, as members of the public school community we believe that this work should be contracted regionally. GAC has worked in the past for congressional redistricting and ISD 2142 school bus routing. While the demographic analysis for population and enrollment projections can be quite complex, we are concerned that taxpayer money should not need to leave the State in order to conduct this work. How was the bidding process conducted? There are many talented regional consultants, including GAC, that would have welcomed an opportunity to bid on the project or at least to offer consultation on the selection of a contractor, given the technical nature of this project. A good part of the work involves non-controversial data collection and integration. GAC and its services were brought to the attention of our Superintendent in early September.

The information we have regarding this contract consists only of what was published in the DNT on September 9 and 17, and we could find no more information on the District web site. Please reassure us that District policies regarding contract work have been followed, and that the contract has been vetted by professionals familiar with this type of work. In the future, please don’t forget about regional talent and expertise for ISD 709 needs.


Stacey Stark and Laure’ Charleux

To which I replied:

Harry Welty
3:17 PM (14 minutes ago)

Stacey and Laure,

I am sorry that I missed this email when you sent it. Art Johnston and I expressed misgivings about this contract. To my knowledge it was not bid out. I am not surprised that we have local talent which could evaluate our demographics. I did not know that anyone locally suggested that we have local professionals evaluate our demographic inequities. Then again. I’m only a school board member. I’ll be sending this email to all Board members to share my unhelpful sarcasm.

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