Many Rivers, Little info

Yesterday’s School Board meeting will be up on Youtube in a few days. It was nearly three and a half hours long. My seatmate, Dr. David Kirby, who I suspect was appalled at how long the meetings were lasting early when he joined the Board this year told me he had recently spoken with an Osseo, Minnesota Board member who told him that their meetings dragged on so long that it took them two days to work through their agendas. Talk about perspective.

Although Loren Martell told me his days of chronicling the meetings on the Reader were over he gamely sat through all three hours last night. I have modest hopes that he might yet set pen to paper. As for me right now, I only have the spunk to address one of a half dozen major issues we covered – the three recent offers for school buildings that the Board was not told about. That is the only subject covered by the DNT which is par for their course.

Chair Harala took the blame for this in today’s news story. We had a spirited discussion about it. The three of us on the Board who supported taking 14 million from the DPSA charter for Central were not pleased to have been kept out of the loop. Annie said she was the only board member who knew about the offers although I find it very hard to believe that the Clerk of the Board, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, didn’t also know. At present they are the only board members permitted to take part in agenda setting sessions. Chair Harala defended the secrecy on our policy which currently forbids ISD 709 from selling our empty schools to another school system. Taken to an extreme this rationalle would have freed the Administration from even telling the Chair about the offers.

But ignorance in this case was not all that blissful. Many Rivers took the same route that the Edison schools took last spring to get around the embargo on infomation. They sent all the Board members a letter about their offers thus embarassing Chair Harala. Such a response by Many Rivers was almost inevitible. Besides that, being kept out of loop drives suspicion and paranoia.

I suggested a simple solution. Alter our policy preventing a sale of old buildings to one in which we maintain the policy but require that sales offers are made known to the Board……that way, if we got a mafia offer – one too good to refuse – we could simply suspend policy.

I have to admit Many Rivers made a powerful argument that they were barely in competition for our students while they offered top dollar for some old schools that continue to hang around our necks. A couple of those offers are really tempting. I’m glad I learned of the offers no matter what the board majority eventually decides to do with them.

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