A rare comment from me about ISD 709 in the age of Coronovirus


I don’t begrudge the Duluth News Tribune putting up a demand for a subscription to access their stories but I miss the days before they put up this obstacle. I still get my postage-stamp-sized DNT delivered to my door. The story began with the latest million plus shortfall and explanations for it this time around. They were very familiar. Board member Sally Trnka, who took my place a couple years ago, bemoaned the shortfalls insisting that this time they were not the fault of the District. I have a caveat that should be appended to that statement. I will agree that this school board hasn’t screwed up BUT…..

….As I always point out to the chagrin of the know-nothing editors of the DNT who are sick and tired of me being an “I told you so,” A twenty million dollar annual budget deficit was planted in our District’s operational funds for the next 25 years when our now ten-year-old Red Plan schools required twenty million to be annually taken from our faculty to pay off lenders. When they are paid off from ten to fifteen years from now we will get it back after all of today’s children are graduated. Sally and company, even Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, were not part of that decision although the latter never raised a peep as these deficits were planted in the heart of our District. No, the guilty parties were defeated or resigned and are now largely forgotten for giving us a quarter century financial burden. Nancy Nilsen was even brought back to life after her defeat and now serves as the St. Louis County Auditor. As she told us at the time when questioned about the consequences of the Red Plan…..I have a masters degree in business administration. (no quotes from me, that’s from memory)

So Sally has been saddled with the consequences of past School Boards for which she is helpless. However, saying that its the state’s fault not the District’s is grossly inaccurate. For whatever reason Sally misses a lot of school board meetings but I must say in many ways she has been a breath of fresh air. I hope she runs for re-election.

One of the worst consequences of the Red Plan was its division of the District into a poor side and a rich side of town. Denfeld, with only sixty high school students to East’s 100, is sending out 300-some paper packets to kids who don’t have computers at home. Of East’s 1000 students only about 100 get the paper packs. The District has required itself not to offer kids with computers more than they can offer kids without access to the internet at home. This is for the sake of equity, so that have-not kids will not fall further behind.

A great irony is that the Edison Charter schools chose to plow their money into chrome books for every child to be taken home. There is no withholding of online education from any Edison child because of a home’s poverty. Meanwhile, the much touted white boards once installed in every classroom paid for by the Red Plan are out of date, broken and being discarded.

What was the promise of the Red Plan again? Oh yeah! Schools of the 21st Century! Not endorsing me because I keep explaining these disheartening and embarrassing facts has not brought the editors of the Duluth News Tribune any happier headlines since they urged my replacement…….Then again they weren’t bright enough or free enough to point out what sort of a ninnie Donald Trump was when they made no endorsements for President in 2016.

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