I asked our School Board Chair if we could set up a coffee date after Tuesday’s school board meeting but was told she was going to be off on a belated Honeymoon for the next ten days. I wished her well and told her it sounded like fun. Before she left Duluth, however, she did have time to comment on the once secret offers by Many Rivers Montessori to buy one of our empty buildings, first on her husband’s news program at KBJR:
and then on WDIO’s News:
Chair Harala explained that the Board reaffirmed the no sale to competitors policy last Spring. That’s debateable. A 4 – 3 majority upheld the policy with regard to one buyer last spring. This came after a furor (among minority members) about not being told of the offers over two years. While it is true that the minority did not raise the possibility of changing the policy in the face of a likely 4 – 3 vote against change there is now talk of a change in light of a second attempt to hide new offers from the full Board. Ignorance is not bliss.
In the recent News Tribune story Chair Harala explained that she was the sole board member to know of the offers which went back to April of this year, six months ago. Frankly that is hard to credit unless the Superintendent told her privately rather in the company of Board Clerk Rosie Loeffler-Kemp in one of our controversially closed agenda setting sessions. No matter who was informed this is little comfort to Board members who previously made clear that they were unhappy to be kept out of the loop.
In any event to say that the School Board “reaffirmed” the policy not to sell District Schools to competitors under any circumstances is simply inaccurate. Many Rivers Montessori’s argument that they barely compete with ISD 709 makes a great deal of sense to me. One million for a costly school sounds pretty good to me. That makes it an offer very much worth considering. Our students could use that money.
Recently Denfeld High School asked for more staffing because they began the year with about 1000 students. Most other Schools in the District were apparently given extra teachers (FTE) at the beginning of the year. Denfeld’s overstressed teachers currently deal with a much poorer student population more high needs special education students and classrooms in the 40’s. It was suggested to Denfeld that since they were expected to lose a hundred students in the first month anyway they would not get the additional FTE’s to keep class sizes down. The loss of students would make the current FTE’s fit the eventual need. The prediction of student losses sounds like a self fulfilling prophecy to me.
Fox’s Dan Hanger share’s his thoughts on a no sale on Facebook.