Welty to lead School Board
By Tom Wilkowske
News-Tribune staff writer
Four new members joined the Duluth School Board Tuesday night and proceeded to help elect member Harry Welty as the board's new chairman.
I've made no secret ofthe fact that I've wanted to be board chair," Welty said after the meeting. He has been campaigning for the post since shortly after he joined the board in 1995. "I've done some politicking."
The move might be seen as surprising. Welty is a Republican and the four new members - Laura Condon, Pati Rolf, Dorothy Neumann and Eileen Zeitz Hudelson - were endorsed by the DFL and labor groups.
Welty is among a block of five board members who have two years of their terms remaining and who have defended decisions that angered unions, like bringing the for-profit Edison Project schools to Duluth and taking a hard line on labor negotiations.
But in the past year, Welty also has called on administrators and fellow board members to reach out to the district's teachers.
And he also unsuccessfully argued to delay decisions on expanding Edison and extending its leases until the newcomers could be seated.
The chairman runs board meetings, makes committee appointments and helps set meeting agendas.
By making sure all sides are heard, Welty could play an important role in helping the divided board find middle ground on issues like choosing a new superintendent and improving relations with teachers.
Welty voted for himself as chairman and was joined by Neumann, Condon, Zeitz Hudelson and Rolf.
Members Mary Cameron, George Balach, Tim Grover and Mary Glass voted for Cameron for chairwoman.
Cameron later was elected clerk, Balach was elected treasurer and Glass was elected vice-chairwoman. .
After taking their oaths of office, the four new board members were greeted with raucous cheers and applause by the audience of about 100, many of whom sported prounion buttons.
In other business, the newly formed board voted to hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday to review advertising materials for a new superintendent of Duluth schools.
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