Tuesday, 8-13-2002

Toss the Little Dog a Bone

Dear Political Diary,

After two years of asking for the School Board to let the Administration look at a two high school plan I finally got a majority on the record to support such a study. It didn't come easily.

For reasons that smack as much of ego as education some board members have fought looking at a two high school scheme ever since I raised the subject. Initially the reluctance was probably more motivated by a fear of public anger. I suspect, however, that as time went on it became less a matter of fear of the public and more of a matter of stymieing Harry Welty. 

As we slogged through our Committee of the Whole meeting tonight for our latest long term planning. I patiently waited until the time was ripe to suggest the long suppressed study. Laura Condon had made a point of saying yesterday at our Business Committee hearing that she expected me to bring the subject up at tonight's meeting and she reiterated that view again early in the meeting tonight. Yet when I did she squirmed and reacted at my proposed study as though it was a shocking thing to propose especially my naming a building to be closed. Dorothy Neumann backed her up.

I pointed out that when Dorothy had been chair she had promised that the discussion on two high schools would proceed sometime this year but at tonight's meeting Dorothy was particularly irked that we were headed in this direction. Yet when Mary Cameron backed me up, albeit with a different high school closing than mine and Garry Krause raised his hand to be the third board member to call for my study they were joined by Mars and Akervik. Poor Laura looked most sullen for the rest of the evening. Its almost like a former Board member's ghost is hovering over the board trying unsuccessfully to direct our actions. Thank God, I don't believe in ghosts.

I told the latest education reporter from the Trib, Martiga Lohn, a week ago (we keep burning the poor things out. There have been seven in the six years I've been on the board) all about my calculations. We already know from a brief analysis I prompted a year ago that we'd save about $1,200,000 a year if we closed a high school. I suggested Central as a junior high and Woodland as an elementary school. The Superintendent who seems as reluctant as Laura to do the study said he'd want to postpone conducting it until October after the current school year has started. He then cautioned us that he would want to make a study about a 2 high school division that was "educationally" sound not just fiscally sound. That sounded like a good way to determine in advance  that no two high school system could possibly be educationally sound thus making the study useless even before it begins. Oh well, the study will proceed if even under the threat of a self fulfilling prophecy - "It can't work!" I'll take what I can.

Just before the vote I gave a little soliloquy to those board members who are frustrated with me for not relenting on my quest for a study. I told them that I had been making inquiries about how a two high school system would work for two years. I said I knew they probably viewed me like a noisy little dog and I concluded by saying that I would have shut up long ago if they'd just let the study proceed as promised. "Just give the little dog a bone," I told them. 

And now I've got it. Woof.