A fifth candidate has entered the School Board race for Judy’s second district seat. Its the second general election match-up for the three seats up for grabs. They are all up for grabs because there are no incumbents planning to run for reelection. Only the third District seat has a single announced candidate – so far. If no one else files for it there will be no contest for Bill Westholm’s seat in the November General election.
In every candidate announcement so far there has been some hint that the Board’s dysfunction has brought new candidates out. I don’t blame them. Today’s candidate, Charles Obije (a guess on pronunciation O bee jee) fortunately went beyond that complaint to mention the elephant in the room – the inequities between our schools. Having moved to the Duluth area twelve years ago from Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, to attend college while residing in the hard scrabble Central Hillside I suspect Mr. Obije is far more attuned to fairness than our shiny new swimming pools. (Yes, that was a dig.)
The dysfunction that all the candidates have brought up was so unnecessary. Art Johnston and I have asked each other over and over again why the School Board didn’t simply ignore us for the past year. We had two votes to the usual majority’s five. All the board had to do was simply out vote us until the new elections. Had they done that the Tribune would have simply recorded the vote counts in stories in back pages that very few people would have read. Instead, the majority manufactured complaints against Art that they did not have the courage to pursue in court once their case was tested and fizzled.
No one has more interest in going back to the real educational issues of concern to our community than Art or me. Art’s western schools are all on the uneven side where equity is concerned. Its cost Art fifty or sixty thousand dollars to get back to those issues. Let’s hope the new board seated in January doesn’t disappoint.
As for new swimming pools I read in the Trib’s Bygones Section a story I would have paid close attention to my first year in Duluth. Forty years ago the Duluth Schools were planning the groundbreaking of a new swimming pool at Morgan Park High School. At the time I was the coach of Proctor’s swimming team at its ancient twenty-yard swimming pool (five yards shorter than all other Duluth area pools). Once built the Morgan Park Pool was a revelation. A few years later its humidity was causing mold to spread throughout the school.
This isn’t the first mention of the Morgan Park pool in the bygones section. Last April the Bygones section described how the school board spent a lot of time analyzing the pool’s costs. Back then the Board was a lot more deliberate. They didn’t just add millions onto a wildly growing construction plan without considering the fiscal implications – like trading teachers for bricks.