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Thanks Duluth School Board

I just found out that 3 out of the 4 professionals that have helped my autistic child so much last year have been released. I don’t know how we are going to cope.

I hope everyone enjoys the new buildings; they cost more than you can imagine.

19 Comment(s)

  1. I feel for you, Joel, but the new buildings aren’t the cause of this. The building consolidation and construction monies are not the same as general operating funds. If we did not consolidate schools, those specialists would have been let go a couple of years ago. Bonding for construction is not how teachers get paid. Complain to the State and Fed for underfunding public education- which led to our current situation.

    TimK | Jul 24, 2012 | New Comment
  2. Tim- glad you said it, saved me the trouble. As frustrating and counter-intuitive as it is, this can’t be blamed on the Red Plan Boogeyman. Would having your child and the rest of Duluth’s kids be in leaky, falling apart money sinks make you feel any better about losing those specialists?

    rev | Jul 24, 2012 | New Comment
  3. Frankly, yes, I would rather have my child in “leaky, falling apart money sinks,” if I could keep the professionals who have made such a positive impact on my autistic son. My son grew to trust and learn from these very special people. He could not care less about buildings. He doesn’t remember buildings. He will, however, profoundly miss those he has learned to trust, those who helped guide him through a confusing world that he struggles to understand, and struggles to understand him.

    Excuse me for mourning this loss. I have not yet told my son that when he returns to his school, his support will not be there.

    Joel | Jul 24, 2012 | New Comment
  4. To be fair, had they not fumbled the building consolidation so badly, I think more Duluthians would have voted for the 2011 levy, and so yes, the building plan is indirectly responsible for lower operating funds.

    rhetoricguy@gmail.com | Jul 24, 2012 | New Comment
  5. Thumbs up to both @rev and @rhetoricguy@gmail.com

    aluminumpork | Jul 24, 2012 | New Comment
  6. “Frankly, yes, I would rather have my child in ‘leaky, falling apart money sinks.’”

    Joel, I feel for you in regard to having an autistic child and losing some of the professionals that have worked with him. But your comments just come off as snarky and selfish.

    Sure, we could’ve kept the students in the leaky, crumbling buildings. Besides putting the students in danger, the district would end up laying off teachers and professionals anyway so they could pay the astronomical heating and maintenance bills that fall under the same general operating budget.

    As others have noted, the Red Plan was a completely separate thing than the layoffs. (Although, as RG noted, Duluthians for some reason decided to punish the kids because they don’t like the school board. Smart.) But a lot of people have had to make sacrifices. Think of all the teachers and professionals who have lost their jobs. Sure, your son might have to adjust to some new people, but at least you can still put food on the table. Class sizes will go up too, giving students less one-on-one time that they need. Programs that help kids with learning disabilities are being cut and kids that don’t do well in traditional classrooms are falling behind.

    This is not a Duluth School Board issue. A lot of kids, teachers, professionals, and parents throughout the country are going through stuff like this right now. It’s not going to get any better as long as federal and state education continues to be slashed for things like “defense.”

    Tom | Jul 24, 2012 | New Comment
  7. Tom,

    I pray that you never have to face the unique challenge of raising an autistic child.

    Joel | Jul 25, 2012 | New Comment
  8. Actually the real culprit is declining enrollment. Fewer students means less money the district has to spend.

    Shane | Jul 25, 2012 | New Comment
  9. Believe me, I sympathize for the situation you and many other parents with autistic children face on a day-to-day basis. I know it’s not easy and

    The problem is that you just seem hellbent on complaining, refusing to listen to logic and common sense, and unwilling to provide any suggestions for how to handle the staffing issues.

    Crappy old buildings = higher operating expenses = layoffs

    Less state and federal funding = less money for the district = layoffs

    Taxpayers rejecting the levy = less money for the district = layoffs

    Declining enrollment = less funding = layoffs

    What are your thoughts on how to keep the professionals that work with autistic children? I’m genuinely interested in having a civilized discussion about this. The Red Plan has nothing to do with the layoffs, keeping the kids in crappy old buildings wouldn’t help, and there’s no magical fund that the school board can dip into to pay to keep teachers and professionals. So what’s your suggestion?

    Tom | Jul 25, 2012 | New Comment
  10. How about a city-wide tax on plastic bags? It wouldn’t be a silver bullet by any means, but it would feasibly add some revenue and help Duluth maintain its’ aesthetic beauty. Sorry, I just watched a documentary titled ‘Bag It’ on Netflix (which I highly recommend). My bottom line is that with very limited revenue, discussing creative solutions will do a lot more good than simply complaining…not that those complaints are unjustified. They absolutely are.

    TomK | Jul 25, 2012 | New Comment
  11. Seattle just voted to ban plastic bags.

    just sayin.

    in.dog.neato | Jul 25, 2012 | New Comment
  12. Tom,

    You feel to me like you are oversimplifying. First, Central didn’t look to me like it was placing students in danger. If it was stunningly heat inefficient, that would surprise me. I don’t want to rehash the red/blue plan debates. But when I moved here, I had no emotional ties to any aspect of the school system. And still the renovation plan looked stupid to me, and the deal with Johnson Controls (based in my home town of Milwaukee) looked suspect. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe this was necessary to save lives, for all I know.

    They failed to communicate this. Even I voted against the levy because the best argument I heard for the levy was “we need more money.”

    Mismanagement and miscommunication are at least partial causes of the problem. And for that, Joel can feel some

    rhetoricguy@gmail.com | Jul 26, 2012 | New Comment
  13. Central wasn’t closed because it was a dangerous building. It was closed because there were three high schools and a student population ideal for two high schools. One of them had to go, and Denfeld and East were perfectly geographically positioned for a two-school system.

    Paul Lundgren | Jul 26, 2012 | New Comment
  14. RG, it was not my intention to oversimplify. I was trying to cover all of the issues that led to the school board enacting the long-range facilities plan. Different buildings were closed for different reasons. Certainly not all of the buildings were crumbling and dangerous. Some certainly were (Laura MacArthur, Lincoln Park, Piedmont, etc.).

    Declining enrollment was also a major factor in this plan. You have to consider that Duluth had a population of more than 100,000 up until the 1970s, when the population started falling drastically. Thankfully, it has leveled out over the past two decades, but the quantity and distribution of schools throughout the city was no longer conducive to the actual population of and distribution of people in the city. Assuming that Duluth does not have any drastic swings in population over the next few decades, the current school system will be far more cost-efficient in the long-run than keeping everything the way it was. (And, as you touched on, old buildings were not built be very cost-efficient when it came to things like heating and maintenance.)

    As I mentioned in an earlier cost, I do feel that the board was at least partially to blame for not getting the levy passed. So many people were pissed at the board about the Red Plan that they decided to punish the kids by not voting for the levy. I would hope that people will have the opportunity to see the new buildings and realize their advantages before the next levy vote comes up. Perhaps if the district had put the Red Plan up for public vote, public sentiment would be better now. But then I worry that people would’ve just shot it down and we’d still be sitting here with crumbling old buildings and too many schools. There’ll always be “what ifs?” about the whole process.

    Tom | Jul 26, 2012 | New Comment
  15. Fair enough. That Central is unused is a crime,in my mind, as I expect it is just waiting to be sold off, the last swath of public land to be condo-fied.

    Still, no one voted to,punish the kids. I didn’t. I voted to communicate to the board that they needed to communicate with me.

    rhetoricguy@gmail.com | Jul 26, 2012 | New Comment
  16. I’ll agree with you on that. I don’t really disagree with the board’s decisions (as I’ve explained in detail in previous posts), but they really could have done better PR and tried to communicate the reasons to the public.

    Tom | Jul 26, 2012 | New Comment
  17. Your last sentence demonstrates how successful the “no taxes/government is bad” drum beat over the past 30 years has been — a person who in general agrees with the goals of the school board (and therefor, probably agrees with the whole concept of public education in the first place), feels that they should be doing public relations. We used to have a media that informed us, and called our leaders on the carpet when needed. Now we all assume that what our leaders are doing is wrong.

    TimK | Jul 27, 2012 | New Comment
  18. As someone who has voted for every school levy, sales tax increase, and other lefty initiative for parks, libraries, ducks, sister cities, etc. in every town I’ve lived in since 1991 (when I turned 18)…

    TimK, I find your reasoning flawed. I hope there was never a time when a school board could ask for three levels of tax increase and no one wondered “to pay for what?”

    rhetoricguy@gmail.com | Jul 28, 2012 | New Comment
  19. I can’t speak for Tim, but what I feel like he’s getting at is that it’s sad that the school board should be expected to market the facilities plan like a private company would market a new product. I think he’s saying that in the old days, the media would keep us much better informed of school board meetings and the state of our schools. It’s not like we were considering switching toothpaste brands — this isn’t something that should have to be sold to us through marketing.

    Tom | Jul 28, 2012 | New Comment

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