As the Duluth school district struggles to find money to pay for the insanely expensive Red Plan, a similar situation is playing out to the north. In 2009, St. Louis County School District officials and consultant Johnson Controls argued that closing several old schools and building new consolidated schools would result in significant savings for the school district. Anyone who followed that publicity campaign could not have failed to notice marked similarities with Duluth’s Red Plan, which was also pushed by Johnson Controls.
In fact, as Marshall Helmberger points out in a recent Ely Timberjay story, almost all of the claims and promises have turned out to be worthless.
Rather than saving $1.24 million in maintenance costs annually, as was promised by boosters, the school district has seen its maintenance costs rise by $700,000 each year since the new schools opened. Instead of transportation costs going down, as promised, they have risen by $1.2 million. And enrollment, instead of rising, has stagnated.
Apparently, the district administration has urged school board members not to speak with the press. This is no big obstacle for Mr. Helmberger, who, as publisher of the best newspaper for hundreds of miles around, knows how to get his information in other ways.
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