----- Original Message -----
From: SP
Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2003 11:47 AM

Dear School Board Members:

I wrote an email yesterday, but after a parent Football meeting at
Central last night I feel compelled to write again.

It was stated that Board Member Welty was quoted as saying on some
radio show that - Central is easiest to close because the parents have
the least resistence.   Or something of this nature. I am very offended
at this statement.

All of these parents are interested in keeping Central open - all of
these parents plan to go to the rally tonight at 6:00.  Central does
not want to close its doors.   Because of the mix of students at
Central it is almost like Central is being discriminated against if you
do close the doors - is this true - because these kids come from
families without the incomes of the East and Denfeld areas?    Is this
true because these families feel they have little or no say because of
their situation.   The Central people don't have a loud voice?    The
Central people do have a loud voice but the voice is seldom heard.

At our meeting last night the group of parents who attended (about 40
or so) were all in total agreement that it should be a shame to close
Central as a high school.   As we sat outside overlooking the lake and
the brand new high school sport facilities, football/track field/tennis
courts/basement and softball diamonds, we also noticed there is room to
expand if that was needed in the future.  Room for another exit - which
we understood as being worked on.   This is the nicest of the three
high schools and as I stated yesterday, gives a very good impression
for the Duluth Public Schools when one enters the school.

Please look at all aspects.  No matter what you decide to do you will
get resistence.   Again, please do not use the argument of geographical
location.   My husband dropped my son off at Central, then drove to
East High School to pick up his high school transcipt and the total
trip was 3.5 miles from parking lot to parking lot.

A few years back you moved the Morgan Park kids to Denfeld.   Last year
you changed to boundaries and brought the kids from upper woodland into
the Central District (good thing for us) because Duluth Central is
Duluth's best kept secret.    Now you want to mess with the kids again
from the Central.   It is time to look at reality and face the fact
that Duluth East needs to go as a high school.   East has no parking
and is wedged in a residential neighborhood, the school is in poor
shape, East does not have the athletic facilities, the only thing East
has that other parts of Duluth does not is money.    Please, please put
the politics and money of the East end of town aside and do what is
right for the kids and the community.   Duluth Central makes a
statement to anybody from coming out of town it is very impressive.

Or is it that you might loose kids to Marshall if East is closed -
again the politics.   Last night I heard of a transfer student who is
currently going to school at Marshall, wanted to go to East even though
the child is in the Central district, the only question that was asked
to the parents was "if we do not let him into East will he go to
Central?  The parents answered no he will stay at Marshall -
immediately this student was transfered to East.

What about STC - what a wonderful program - again the cost of
transportation will be extremely expensive.   I realize that one of the
high schools needs to go.   But if you put out an Excess Levy on
keeping three high schools open until the current 9th graders have a
chance to graduate, more likely than not, this would pass.  You may ask
why the incoming 9th grades and the answer is, you need to tell the
incoming 9th graders that they will not be graduating from the school
they are at - this is the fair and simply right thing to do.    It is
simply wrong not to give some notice to these kids.   Again, I am
awaiting a response on my email from yesterday - do I buy my son a
Central Letter jacket and a Central class ring this year?   I would
sure hate to waste money.

I look forward to a response.


My Reply

Dear Sheri,

The reason I didn't reply yesterday is that I can only find time to write a
few page-long replies a day. I don't really have time today either so I will
be brief.

I can't tell you what letter jacket to buy because I don't know that the
School Board is going to do. As you are aware, if it was up to me I would
turn Central into a junior high. Its not because I want to this its because,
as you yourself said, one high school must close. I have concluded that
Central is the best choice, or rather, the least damaging choice.

I don't base my decision on the power of Duluth East families. I base it on
the difficulties of spliting the Central student population if either
Denfeld or East should close and on the usefulness of Central as a
centralized junior high. Since a major bond referendum to build new
buildings is unlikely I figure that we should use buildings we have as
efficiently as possible.

Some children will be moved once we make the decision to change schools or
boundaries. I opposed the recent junior high boundaries because, among other
things, I knew that it would be used as an argument not to close Central.

We could, if we were willing to sacrifice more teachers for empty buildings,
keep your children at Central but eventually some children would be affected
when we finally closed it. You may ask us to spare your children the
inconvenience of closing but that's just asking us to put the burden on
other children. That's not right.

I was on KDAL a couple weeks ago. I don't have a transcript of that show and
apparantly you don't either. I might have alluded to the fact that the
Central parents are less potent today than they were twelve years ago when
they scared the School Board off from closing Central. If I did it was only
because I am a candid person. Frankly, however, I doubt that I said this. I
don't recall saying it and if I did say it I took no pleasure in the Central
parents diminished power.

The prospect of losing your children's school is tough and the temptation is
to believe that someone is out to get you. I am out to close the school but
I'm not out to get anyone least of all your children. I only want to make
sense out of the Duluth Schools for the good of every child, teacher, parent
in the school district.

I realize that there are very good arguments to be made to keep Central open
and close East. As the person who first seriously proposed closing East I
have thought of most of them. But I've concluded that there are more good
reasons to keep East open than Central as a high school despite its poor
setting and small classrooms.

See you tonight.

Harry Welty

SP's response

Dear Board Member Welty:

I would like to thank you for your response.

I would also like to know what are the good points about keeping East
open?   There is no parking - you are well aware - they also have no
sport facilities - you are well aware. I graduated from East in 1981.
I recently was back there for a basketball game, and frankly it looked
terrible.  East was originally built as a middle school.  Why would you
want to close the newest and obviously nicest of the three.  Central
creates a great impression for folks when they walk in - East does just
the opposite because it is so small and crowded.

Common sense dictates that it makes no sense to turn the beautiful
Central Building into a Jr. High or a middle school.  What about STC?
What about the additional costs of transportation to get students to
STC.  Have you ever taken the time to tour Central?   Clearly, it is
set-up for high school purposes - where as East was not set up for high
school but middle school (as you are well aware).

Thank you.


My Response


Keep in mind that if we close one high school Central's kids will be the
students most impacted.

If we close East some Central kids will be sent to Denfeld. If Denfeld
Closes some Central kids will be sent to East. And, of course, if Central
closes the kids will be split up. Under any circumstances its only the
building not the current student body that will remain.

I anticipate that all the Central students and parents will lobby to stay at
Central if one of the other high schools closes. I'm afraid the Board might
let them stay. But this would create one high school twice the size of the
other. This is not accetable.

The only way to cleanly divide Central's students in two is to close Central
and draw the boundaries so that we create two equal high school populations.

We have too many junior highs on the east side of town. If East closes we
will have another one. We would be much better off if we had a building in
the middle of town for junior high school students. This will give us a
balanced junior high student population.

The STC could continue as it is. Woodland could be used where its needed as
an elementary school. We could do this with only a modest bond referendum to
remodle the existing buildings not a mega bond to build a new high school.
We might even be able to finance the changes without a bond.

Central is the only modern high school in Duluth. I have made that point
many times. But East, for all its failings, is also a high school.

I agree that Central is a gem. I've taught in the building and know it well.
I just think it makes sense to turn it into a junior high.