David's Blog

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Avoid the Ineffectiveness of Indecision - Vote ‘no’ on Plan B

Duluth public school students are enjoying the advantages their new and upgraded schools have provided as part of the School District’s Long Range Facilities Plan (sometimes called the Red Plan). With four schools completed and open, seven under construction and the remaining two with construction beginning soon, you see a lot of smiles on the faces of parents, teachers and students.

After four years of often-divisive debate, the community now sees how these modern, safe and energy-efficient schools are a benefit to our children. They are concurrently eliminating the excess space and antiquated equipment we taxpayers have been funding for too many years.

So why, with all these improvements already underway, will we be voting November 2 on potentially undoing the Red Plan?

Because, by state law, we have to. Two years ago, Red Plan opponents circulated a petition for what they dubbed “Plan B”. After the petition was accepted by the school board, it took nearly a year for the petitioners to submit their plan to the State for review and approval for a public referendum. Fortunately, during this time, work continued on the approved long-range plan. Delays would have added new costs for taxpayers and caused more disruptions in our schools.

Despite the fact that 90 percent of the district’s plan is already being implemented, and despite Plan B proponents acknowledge their plan will cost taxpayers more each month, here is the question we will see in the voting booth:

“Shall the School Board of Independent School District No. 709, Duluth, be authorized to issue general obligation bonds totaling $128,000,000 to be used with an estimated $66,092,086 in bonds and investment earnings previously approved by the Board for alternative facilities to build two new middle schools and two new elementary schools; repair and remodel three high schools, one middle school, and five elementary schools; repair and expand two elementary schools; and repair and remodel ‘Old Central High’ and the Secondary Technical Center? BY VOTING ‘YES’ ON THIS BALLOT QUESTION, YOU ARE VOTING FOR A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE."

The referendum doesn’t make any sense – even if it is only advisory in nature. If the school board were to implement it, the District would pay to redesign and remodel already-completed buildings. The District would also need to pay contractors for agreements that would not be completed. Additionally, it would be required to cancel existing bonds and reissue new bonds. These expensive propositions would be an unwarranted cost to taxpayers. Finally, every year we taxpayers would pay more for our schools because we would have more buildings to operate.

There isn’t a wise business owner anywhere that would develop a thoughtful and effective plan, implement 90 percent of it, and then toss it out the window for a more expensive plan - that does less. We taxpayers shouldn’t waste money moving backward, either.

Let us, as residents of our beloved community, put this tired debate behind us. Let’s avoid the ineffectiveness and the inefficiency that accompanies indecision. Let us get back to concentrating on what’s most important – the education of our school age children. Voting “no” on Plan B will allow Duluth to finally move forward. Our shining city on the hill will shine more brightly if we do so.

posted by David Ross at


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