As I was putting up signs about a mile and a half from our sparkling new Homecroft School I met a very happy Edison family. They had planned to send their children to Homecroft but I don’t want to rush the story.
Ever since Edison was invited to open shop in Duluth the factions that hate it have tried to undermine it. My Board managed to preserve it after four anti-Edison board members got elected by the Teacher’s Union. Then unwisely the union smiled on their decision to cast Edison adrift from the 709 Schools so that they were a completely free entity.
After I was off the Board and partisans of the 709 Schools began bemoaning the loss of students to Edison I believe that folks in the District got a complex about Edison which became a self fulfilling prophesy. One of Edison’s draws for some parents was its all day Kindergarten. Edison had to sacrifice other things to offer this because until this year the state only reimbursed School Districts for a half day of Kindergarten. Nonetheless they managed to make it work.
My Board had addressed this by offering some all-day Kindergarten. We set up all day K at no charge to our poorest families. Better off parents could pay for it according to a sliding scale based on their income. Some folks prefered half day kindergarten presumably because one parent stayed at home.
That wasn’t good enough for the Board that replaced mine as it tried to out compete Edison. The District began spending half-a-million dollars a year to offer all day kindergarten to all parents whether they wanted it or not. That half million dollars had to come from somewhere else in the District’s budget or be drawn from its already shrinking reserves.
One of the things the District decided to sacrifice was our fairly generous bussing guidelines. My board had already cut back on busing. I recall that we bussed all Kindergartners who lived over half a mile from school. This couldn’t be managed with our new leaner Red Plan so Kindergarteners could only get a bus ride if they lived a mile or more away.
So the family that was planning on sending its little ones to Homecroft discovered that they lived too close to Homecroft for the bus ride. The Homecroft folks were alarmed to hear that they were thinking about the Edison alternative but Homecroft was powerless in the face of the new ISD 709 policy. Now their kindergartner and first grader attend Northstar Academy.
The current Board and Administration could use some lessons in playing Chess.
Oh, and I heard more horror stories about the new Lincoln when I put up signs out west today. I told one father that the first thing we had to do to put the damper on fighting at the new Lincoln was hire more teachers. That, of course, requires passing both operational levies. He told me that when his kids attended the old Lincoln he never had any worries.