Two recent DNT stories help lead into the discussion of lies and expectations. The first had to do with the building of a walking path to the new western Middle School. One might have expected that a 315 million school building plan that relocated a school and did so arguing that it would encourage more pedestrian traffic to the school would have set such a path out long before the opening of the school. Instead money ran out for this and the parents had to do it themselves.
The other story was just a mention in the Eh column saying that the Duluth schools would really like contributions for its poorly funded art program.
The first story suggests that there were a few Red Plan facilities oversights. Considering that the original Red Plan had a sticker price of $257 million and ended up costing (so far) 315 million (not counting interest) its hard to imagine how money for such an obvious need could have fallen short. Certainly the additional 56 million over the initial price tag should have covered it. But then again that money went for extras that were not part of the original package like a stadium for the eastern high school and two eight million dollar, eight-lane, state-of-the-art competitive swimming pools.
Perhaps such spending on googahs clouded someone’s eyes.
I take the swimming pools a little more personally than many. I have some small experience with competitive swimming and I was a worse than mediocre swimming coach. In fact, it was my ability to coach that brought me to Duluth almost 40 years ago. the swimming pools were added to the Red Plan shortly after I was defeated by swimming affacinado and Red Plan supporter Judy Seliga-Punyko. I’ve always wondered if this wasn’t a bit of a reward to Judy from Keith Dixon whose Red Plan I had panned for being put into place without a referendum vote. If so it was just one of many tens of millions of dollars worth of changes – changes which were only possible because spending was not locked into place by the wording of a referendum which would have specified where the spending was to be made.
I take the art stuff pretty seriously too. I am one of Duluth’s best known public artists even if my work is ephemeral. Further my Mother was an artist and took up the cause full time after my Father’s death.
The failure to be able to provide supplies for this subject matter because of misplaced funding priorities really is an indictment of the current School Board. What is the priority? Buildings of course.
After these two stories an op ed piece was offered up by two of the current School Board members attempting to dismiss the charge that the Red Plan had anything to do with over crowded classrooms and other cuts to school programs. If I didn’t already feel a need to elaborate on my conviction that Dr. dixon was a pathological liar this column had my head spinning in many different directions. I’ve been stewing about it ever since and so it too will become a subject of this extended meditation. Since its not a “story” written by the DNT staff I don’t think copyright applies to it. Therefore, the next post will be the column in its entirety.