An email I sent to my fellow board members minutes ago

Fellow Board members.

As the continuing flood of letters to the Duluth News Tribune demonstrates it has been damaging for our District’s reputation to ignore a groundswell of support for ISD 709 to take the Tischer Creek money for our own desperate needs.

I must point out that we made a hasty decision two weeks ago with a great deal of misinformation floating about. As time presses forward the public is discovering the flaws in our arguments against a sale to Edison. As a result they are growing ever more bitter.

Besides that, we are making a huge mistake in not engaging the DPSA to negotiate a cap on their enrollment. Bonnie Jorgenson is a friend of mine and she acts with a true Christian spirit. She does not want to hurt ISD 709. Her own two children are graduates of Central High. Ten years from now all that the Edison families are likely to remember is that ISD 709 has taken every opportunity to cast stones at them unfairly over their thirty year existence. Without Bonnie at the helm a new DPSA administration could easily decide to meet public demand and build an addition to their school. As we know from recent years our Red Plan schools still hemorrhage students to surrounding school districts. Even now I hear reports of our families seeking out other schools. Our actions have unintentionally been wonderful advertising for Edison itself. We must stop this madness.

In two or three years time 20% of Duluth’s public school students will be attending DPSA schools. We will need the voters in those families to vote for our bond referendums just as our School Board counts on them to pay the taxes for ISD 709. Don’t forget, Edison families are also paying the heavy freight of the Red Plan just as they helped pay for the building and maintenance of Central High. Even in their new school they will continue paying for our ISD school operations through their property taxes. I think the least we can do is help them out like neighbors and stop treating them like enemies.

If your plan is to be a one term, 4-year school board member, you will not have to face the crises of an addition built to a Snowflake High School. I can only appeal to your good sense to leave our ISD 709 schools in the best position to weather future storms. Maintaining a feud with Edison in the face of their generous offer is no way to work toward that kind of future.

I am asking for your help in the short time available to us to stop the construction of the DPSA’s new school on the Snowflake site. It would be simplest to add an agenda item to drop our no sale policy at our April 19 school board meeting and direct that negotiations proceed immediately. If that is not possible I will seek two other board members to call a public meeting to consider the same subject shortly after April 19th. We will need four votes to proceed with negotiations and then later to approve a sale.

I have already written you an email outlining the negotiable elements which our Administration never got a chance to investigate. The Superintendent has told me that what I’ve have outlined to you previously as a possible deal is pretty much what he would have asked for had he been allowed to negotiate. I do not expect the particulars to change much.

As I explain in my latest post on my blog today we have two weeks before the contractors begin spending the millions of dollars on Snowflake site preparation that will make their decision to build at that site irreversible. We have very little time to bring the public back to ISD 709’s side. If we don’t act hastily it will be a cold day in hell before our voters will vote to renew or expand an operational levy.

I will reiterate. If you only plan to serve for one four-year term and do not feel obligated to advance ISD 709’s long term future I believe you are doing a disservice to our community and shirking your responsibility to Duluth’s children. If, when we vote, you choose to oppose a sale I will not challenge your vote. It will be the law. However, I will find it as hard to forgive your shortsighted decision as the larger community will.

Your Colleague,

Harry Welty

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