Date: Tue, 05 Nov 2002 14:17:30 -0800
I spoke with Mike Akervik last evening, in his role as chair of the School Board. I outlined our discussion of last Saturday and proposed the idea of a half-day forum concentrated on planning efforts that have been successfull for school districts throughout the state.
I have to say Mike was pleased, if not even excited, that we are willing to assist the school board approach this issue once again. He feels that the (and some of this is in my words not his--but the intent is the same) most recent crisis/fire-extinguishing work of the board has delayed the overall long-range vision of what we want to accomplish as a district. The recent work has been to address the financial issues facing the board without a longer range vision in place with which to frame those decisions.
He thought a half-day forum listening to the success stories of school districts from other areas in Minnesota would be helpful, however, like Robin, he felt that it would be important to try to find districts facing the kind of challenges Duluth is facing. He outlined those issues as being (not in any particular order):
1. excess building capacity
2. charter school enrollment decreasing public sch enrollment
3. declining enrollment throughout the district
4. grade configuration issues
5. need to decrease one high school
He and I agreed that it would be a challenge to find a district that mirrored all of our challenges, but that we could look for districts with similar issues.
So, I believe we have the beginnings of the school board wanting to participate. We did discuss the need to warn the meeting correctly if more than 4 or 5 of the members wanted to attend (re: Open Mtg Law.) The next steps Mike suggested for himself were to discuss the idea with Julio (this week, I believe), float the idea to board members at committee meetings next week--are we interested, should be ask the League to proceed?, and call me back when he gets a feeling from those he talks with. (what English!)
I was pleased with the conversation, given my personal feeling that Board members may not want to continue with the effort saying they have more pressing and crisis-oriented matters to attend to.
Now, I want to take a minute and respond to some if Eilleen's concerns from her e-mail:
Hi Eileen--Sorry you could not be at the Saturday discussion with the education group--there was so much at stake with the election.
The topic suggested is not educational, but rather political.
disagree--this topic is one for whicht the League has been calling for action since
1994. The process for planning, with school distrticts as a model, is one
that has been tried in a number of different ways in
I take issue with the statement that there is no vision on the School Board. . .These three points were the wishes of constituents in November 1997, and those of (us?)elected at that point were ultimately successful in convincing the entire Board to accept these principles. That was not aneasy task given the animosity on that Board
The three points that you hightlighted are points that have successfully been adopted by the board, but is that enough? Does that mean we don't have more planning to do, issues to address, futures to think about? And notice that Mike and the education committee did not identify "animosity on the Board" as a current issue. I believe that the hammering, talking, compromising, and organizational development of the board you were on is an investment that resulted in long-term growth and that we are enjoying the fruits of your labors.
There are people playing politics with the planning process. . .I urge you to be careful about jumping on board with someone interested only in their own selfish motives.
Maybe you could be clarify this statement, as I have no idea who you are talking about. Harry Welty is the only person who keeps ranting about this issue. He wasn't at the meeting, his name didn't come up, and if we need to be cautious about planning we need to be aware of where we are at risk.
. . .statements made in the committee meeting about the School Board, as summarized in the minutes you sent me, are certainly very partisan.
I think there is a difference between poinions and partisianship. As I interpret the League By-Laws, educating voters as to the facts, helping voters have clear information on the issues, and creating positions with which we can lobby for fairness and equality are exactly what the League is about.
I believe you letter is a great start to solidify the clarity of the issues, create a basis for clear facts, and reaffirm the issues that League holds most dear. Starting with dialogue is a most imortant first step.
----- Original Message -----
Sanford Van Scoy
Karen Alworth ;
Joyce Benson ; Robin
Downs ; Jeannette
Lang ; Rosie
Loeffler-Kemp ; Colleen
Michaelson ; Mary
Ostman ; Joan
Peterson ; Linda
Rochford ; Judy
Seliga ; Linda Wick