Subj: schools
Date: 12/31/01 8:28:57 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: M O .umn.edu (M O) (identification obscured by Harry)
To: A1snowman@aol.com

One big concern I have is sound like you have swayed already for the closing of a high school, and your first choice is East, could you clear that up with me, you haven't even determined what the cost or saving of that would be. Wouldn't it be more profitable to sell of Central to a potential employer, with jobs for the graduates, what a possibility. Send me you thoughts, since you have spent some time considering the options.

My Reply to M.O.

Hi M,

As long as there was a possibility that the excess levy would pass I was willing to consider 3 high schools. The thinking that went behind the three 9-12 high school plan was promising. The levy failed however, so I think we have no choice but to close a high school and keep two 10-12 high schools.

Will it save money? I directed the administration to determine that six months ago and was told it would save $1.2 million annually. No other closings came close to that kind of savings, at least not immediately.

As to which school should close I don't have any preferences but their are good arguments either way. If we turn Central into a junior high we could close not only a high school but one of our four middle schools. This would provide additional savings.

On the other hand, I recently sent in an opinion piece to the Tribune which was published with one significant deletion. Perhaps my piece was too long or perhaps the Trib's editors only wanted to deal with one issue at a time - whether to close a high school, not which high school to close.

This is the part they left out: "... I would like to make one final observation. Duluth has exactly one school building designed to accommodate today's high school students who drive to and from school. It has exactly one high school building with a full range of athletic fields adjacent to it. It has exactly one centrally located high school. It has exactly one high school with room to expand. It has exactly one high school with a Secondary Technical Center located nearby which students can walk to without the need for mid-day bussing. It also happens that this high school is the only high school with a century of tradition behind it."


I don't want to close a high school but I think we're crazy not to. Too many people want us to base our decision on vanity, "East is the best high school!" or "East has the most students!" vs. reality, "its only a building" and "the students and the teachers will all stay together no matter where they are located."

We should face our fiscal reality dispassionately and with clear eyes. We should face our building needs the same way.

This is what I think anyway. At present I am a minority on the board although I'm reasonably certain that the majority of Duluthians agree with me.

Happy New Year and best wishes

Harry Welty