Westholm and Wasson are right about one thing. The bonds will have to be paid off. (That’s what I wrote in the last post) The only way to put more money into classroom size reduction is finding more money. That means more local property taxes. They need the voter’s approval for that. Oh there is the possibility of the State raising school revenue but there is no way the State will compensate for the excessive bond repayments for Duluth’s Red Plan.
During public School Board meetings, we’ve had bond counsel and other financial experts talk with us about Johnston’s concerns and ideas. While the savings could be used to offset the deficit (which is different from causing the deficit) the bonds still would need to be repaid. That means either properties would have to sell for more than projected, or property taxes would need to increase to replace the savings.
The W’s blithely ignore the one critical point that Art has made over and over: If these bonds didn’t have to be paid off, if we’d never fallen for the Red plan then we would have more money for teachers and the classrooms. Then the W’s say this:
Johnston suggested calling the 20-year bonds early and attempting to refinance. Even if that were possible, doing so would not prevent a deficit. Instead, it would further increase borrowing costs related to the project.
And every homeowner who extends a mortgage payment to lower the monthly bill (in an attempt to have more money for food, recreation etc)
will end up paying the banks more for the mortgage because they’re payments will be strung out much further, say for five or ten more years. Its the trade off for more money now. That’s Art’s point.
If our classrooms are gross and unwieldy now we can reduce their size by extending our loans while the borrowing costs are so low. We will still be paying for the Red Plan thirty years from now but renegotiation the loan will mitigate much of the current damage being inflicted on students and teachers today. That has a cost too. Prospective students and families will look at our overcrowding and seek out other alternative schools for their children. Every child lost to our schools inflicts more damage and accelerates the downward spiral.
I think there is one reason and one reason alone for the W’s to be blind to this. Renegotiating the bonds might be considered an admission that the Red Plan was a mistake and that they did not anticipate this.
Ann Wasson, currently the Board Chair as she was when the Red Plan was sent to the state for approval has her finger prints all over the Red Plan. Bill Westholm, once a candidate for Superintendent himself and Dr. Dixon’s top aide during the Red Plan Plans did little to throw water on the fire. In fact, Mr. Westholm may feel a touch responsible for Ann’s unwavering faith in the Red Plan. He was one of the silent administrator’s who refused to get in Dr. Dixon’s way.
Bill has never been one to stick his neck out. I saw that as a school board member. He served on, perhaps chaired, a principal committee that sought relief from our Districts’ excess facilities capacity when I was on the board. The Committee delivered a stay-the-course report which is what was in force when Dr. Dixon came aboard and broke the Gordian Knot closing one unnecessary high school. Oh and spending hundreds of millions to close the school. No savings in that no matter how much the W’s protest the contrary!