Members of the Duluth School Board:
Thank you for your thoughtful deliberations and reaction to public concern over the proposed school closings and boundaries. I cannot comment on the
second plan, because I never saw boundaries, or timelines of closings
addressed, but I admire the courageous vote to study the possibility of closing a high school.
My family will be deeply affected by your decisions. I applaud your effort to plan well in advance, and phase in any changes in the next few years. It
would be disastrous to close a high school in a period of 6 months, but I
believe a phase-in period would work well. When the public asked you to slow down, this was what we meant: consider many options and scenarios and work
the process through with regard to students and families.
With a son starting kindergarten next year, I do not want to go through school closings two or three times over the course of his schooling. If a two high
school system is in the works - then get the ball rolling now so you do not
keep shocking the students, parents and school communities. I would also like my two middle school age sons to be allowed to go to school with the friends
they have made - not be forced to distant schools when we can walk to the schools you are moving us from!!
There are many issues that strike right to parents’ and students’
hearts: please understand that our children are not numbers to us! You have shocked
us all into the “Mama Bear” reaction of “ I will do whatever I have to do to
protect what is dear to me”. Sometimes this “Mama Bear” factor takes a negative tone, and I’m sure you feel you have heard enough negative comments.
I want to tell you that what I heard parents say was: “ I really love my school and the education my child is getting in the Duluth Public Schools”.
That’s a good thing!
Do I feel change must happen to help us with the budget crisis? Yes. Do I feel we must react quickly and without forethought? No. Do I feel
neighborhoods must be destroyed along with school communities? No. Stop the
redrawing of boundaries. If you are in a school that remains open, you should go to that school. The schools that close will be dispersed, but some thought
should be given to keeping neighborhoods together. What I heard at the
meetings is that there are great schools out there and I know that school communities will be happy to EXPAND and welcome any new students, but no
school community should have to DISBAND what is already in place.
With my 13 years to come in the Duluth School District (kindergarten next year!) I want to know that the Board is planning at least that far in advance.
Not on a two year plan with surprises and closings every 2 years. I have given a possible two high school proposal to Laura Condon, and I believe she
gave it to Harry Welty. If you are interested I will send you a copy. It is only one of many possiblities. Please look at all the possibilities.
Also, please keep Chester Park open. The money that has already been invested for computer lab upgrades, an elevator, and the UMD connection are so very
valuable for the elementary and college students alike. This is not a program that can just be replicated anywhere. Although the land may be valuable to
UMD, or have a potential resale value to you, the proximity to UMD and all it
has to offer with opportunities for education majors, computer and math majors, any college volunteers and the Chester Park students is, to steal from
a credit card commercial - priceless.