On Keith Dixon: things to remember. He was offered the job when preferred candidates withdrew. He came from Faribault, Minn., where controversy was apparent.
Recognition of the need for two high schools was evident 20 years ago and had reached a level of grudging acceptance by Dixon’s arrival. The difference being 20 years ago Central would have remained a viable middle school and a focus for the central core.
Former state Rep. Mike Jaros’s referendum legislation bypassing a citizen vote was never intended for this type of project; Jaros said so himself and was duly ignored.
Johnson Controls has a mixed record for predicting results (see Duluth Steam Plant, city of Ely and St. Louis County). Though not a construction company, it was placed in charge of the projects, only to add construction managers to the cost and shovel local money to metro contractors.
Duluth taxpayers spent millions on Duluth schools over the years. Maintenance wasn’t ignored; in fact, it was planned for.
Duluth taxpayers support referendums. The district continues to have budget problems but Dixon’s leadership with board cooperation has created an atmosphere where operational levies will be difficult, if not impossible, to pass.
If Dixon leaves the area, he’ll avoid the continuing increase in property taxes he leaves as his legacy to Duluth.
Finally, a question to ponder: Did Dixon’s tenure result in a noticeably positive result in Duluth’s educational performance?
The writer was a Duluth School Board member from 1988 to 2000.