The small objective – zero hour

Monday and Tuesday were, Geez. I was going to write “Red Letter Days” for me – as if every day since 2007 hasn’t been that color.
I have my niece/God daughter’s graduation to drive to for the weekend and the superlative weather simply begged for yard work and spring work to be done. I will be driving down solo and I didn’t want to leave it unfinished for Claudia. I haven’t even written back the five dozen, that’s an estimate, folks who emailed me at my school board address to beg me to save the zero hour. I hope they will forgive me under the motto that actions speak louder than words.

I learned some things about two of my new school board members this week. One was very positive the other was very informative if somewhat neutral. This is a much better school board even if I have found myself in the minority on a couple important votes. Perfect. Not quite but even rye bread tastes good after what I’ve been force fed for the first two years.

I’ve been telling folks for the past couple weeks that I feel like I’ve been wearing a halo the past couple weeks. Not bad for a school board member who was censured two Christmases ago. As I was pulling dandelions by hand out of my front yard a woman came by and tried to pull a red handbag off the bottom of my front stairs railing. I’d found it on my steps yesterday and tied it to the railing like a red flag. (there’s that word again) didn’t want it to blow away. It had been left by someone waiting for the bus.

I went down to help her and she explained she’d thought she’d left it on the bus. She was an older woman and after I got it off the railing she thanked me……..for all the work I’d done to sell Central.

Since yesterday’s announcement of the rescue of the Zero Hour I’ve been getting more thanks.

I’d walked into Old Central last night feeling very chipper. When I realized I couldn’t enter the building because I’d forgotten my door swiper I invited two young Denfeld students to go around to the new 2nd Street door designated to be our security door. I joshed with the two young ladies and showed them where the school board met. It was pretty obvious they were the vanguard of save zero hour forces.

I had much more I wanted to tell about our Monday meeting but I’ll make it short because I should be tucking myself in bed for my eleven hour drive tomorrow.( I want to be off by 5AM. No proof reading tonight)

Alanna, Art and I all came prepared to debate the claim that Zero hour was inequitable because only better off kids could drive to school early to take advantage of it.

Two days on and being sleepy I can’t think how Art and Alanna approached the argument. Best I can recall Art said that denying ambitious kids a chance to dig deeper academically wasn’t equity. Alanna used herself as an example of a student who made use of it. I was quoted on the WDIO broadcast tossing in two cents but my most controversial argument lasted too long for a sound bite. It was this. Because we no longer bus kids home after late night school activities we were putting ourselves at risk of canceling things like sports because these were just as inequitable……that is if we were going to stay true to our stamping out inequity.

After Art’s plea Chair Harala went after him with the most pleasantly asked question. Art had said people are leaving the district because we take opportunities away from their kids. Annie turned the observation on its head and asked Art if he’d ever talked to parents who were keeping their kids on our schools to find out why they were happy with them. Art was taken a bit by surprise by this argumentative stratagem. As he pondered the question the two young women from Denfeld were raising their hands to answer the question for the Chair. (These young ladies got top billing in the WDIO news story and it was well deserved.

Principal Tonia Sconiers suggested that the students be allowed to come to the table and offer their thoughts. I moved aside to give them the microphone and they dived in. One said she couldn’t leave Denfeld because she didn’t have transportation. She went on to say she got rides from friends to the zero hour class. By the time she was finished she more than answered the rhetorical question and then some.

In the space of a day Denfeld had gotten over 200 student signatures on a petition asking the Board to save the Zero Hour. The following day East students brought 900 student signatures on a petition. But by that time the Administration no doubt with the already somewhat bruised majority on the issue of the Central sale announced a full throated retreat.

At our next day’s school board meeting a large section of about forty East Students waited to address the Board. Comments that were no doubt planned to be forceful pleas became instead thank yous for the decision.

Our former School Board Rep from East thanked me for my position on the Central Sale and for suggesting our District take the million plus of Minnesota “Q-Comp money”. A lot of the East students chastised the board between thank yous for our turning our back on the Central Sale money.

I wish I had it in me to finish with the Jill Lofald story but I still have one more post……which I’m also too tired to write……….It’s the big one I’ve been hinting about describing how we might be able to make a really painless decision to radically alter our year by year financing and maybe even without that tax hike I’d been threatening.

Sorry, I’m too tired. Maybe I’ll take my computer to St. Louis and explain it before I get back to Duluth. Maybe.

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