By Harry Welty
As I was painting the railing along
This School Board election could be a repeat of the last one, two years ago, when only five people filed for four seats. This assured three incumbents of automatic reelection. It’s probably a good thing that the Duluth School Board recently got permission from the legislature to slim down from nine spineless bastards to seven. From next January on our Board will only have three, rather than five, at-large members. This year there is only one “at-large” seat up for election. There will still be four district seats and two of them, including my district 2 seat, are up for grabs this fall. There will also be one other election for the First District to fill the last half term (two years) of Pati Rolf’s vacated position.
I would like to think that the reluctance to file for SB stems from public satisfaction with the Board. This just isn’t so. In fact, two years ago local School Board bashers paid for full page ads to encourage other people to run. The Duluth News Tribune wrote an editorial begging for school board candidates. Only Mary Cameron took up the challenge against the incumbents. Her easy victory suggested strong public dissatisfaction.
Why don’t people want to serve on the Duluth School Board? It wasn’t always this way. Twelve years ago there were over twenty candidates for the Board. But those were the good old days when the District simply faced looming deficits and everybody knew that all we had to do to solve our problems was cut the fat out of our spending. Then two years ago the public found out that “fat” meant school buildings and they stopped filing to run for the School Board. No one wanted to close a school.
In the last two years we did close one small elementary
school, Birchwood, but that didn’t make much of a dent in our facilities. We
currently have enough room in our buildings for roughly 3,000 more students than
Once again there are calls for new Board candidates. The disciple of a previous Superintendent wrote a recent op-ed piece calling for candidates to challenge the incumbents for giving teachers lavish pay increases and failing to close schools. What kind of gratitude have our “lavish” pay raises engendered? Not much.
My son recently told me that the mother of a friend, a
Even those people who do contemplate running for the School Board have to ask themselves whether it would be worthwhile when issues come out from nowhere and blindside the Board. The Hockey brouhaha is a classic example of this misspent energy. I did a little calculation after it blew over. I figured that if I was paid an attorney’s standard hourly fee for my time talking to people about hockey I’d have quadrupled my annual board stipend in the two months it took for that controversy to work itself out. Talk about being a hockey puck.
At the last Board meeting the hockey enthusiasts wanted to
talk with us once again about the issue. When the Board at first refused to
listen they railed at us from the floor until we agreed to give them the
microphone. For our patience we got an hour of sour abuse. One particularly
eloquent spokesman (a fellow who is letting a hockey player from another city
stay at his house while playing for Duluth East) told us that
The HW in my new HW4SB bumper stickers will stand for Harry Welty. The SB, on the other hand, won’t stand for School Board.
Welty is a small time
politician (spineless bastard) who lets it all hang out at: www.snowbizz.com