One of Let Duluth Vote's objectives will be to have Mike Jaros's bill to require a binding vote on the Red Plan to be reintroduced into the 2009 legislature. After this summer's construction season only about $10 million of the total $293 million Red Plan will have been completed. Reintroduction of the bill could save school district taxpayers not only the $283 million remaining but the interest on it of over $100 million dollars.
To this end we intend to make sure that voters in the Duluth School District know which of their legislative candidates support this. We have sent a simple pledge to candidates asking them to support the Jaros Bill in the 2009 legislature. There are 15 candidates for four house seats that encompass some part of the Duluth School District. We sent inquiries to 14 of them.
This is the letter we sent them:
Last year the Duluth School Board made use of a new
interpretation of a fifteen year old law to authorize the “Red Plan,” a
school building project on a colossal scale without a public vote. In response Let
Duluth Vote quickly raised 3000 signatures on a petition requesting an
advisory referendum. When the School Board ignored this request a second
petition was circulated also signed by 3,000 voters asking for an advisory
referendum on a compromise plan which would have cost about 2/3rds
the Red Plan’s expense. Once again the School Board turned its back on
Subsequently, Rep. Mike Jaros introduced a bill that would have required a vote on the Red Plan. His original legislation, prior to later amendments, would have required a binding referendum to continue the Red Plan. As his press release explained:
“The school district (709) was
granted the authority under a special law that allows cities of the first class
"I believe our school board
abused this special privilege and instead used the law to fund the Red Plan and
avoid a statewide law for school facilities improvement;" Jaros said.
"Under the Red Plan, the school district is eliminating Magnet Programs at
Grant, Lowell and Nettleton schools. That is a total hypocrisy because these
schools were meant to desegregate
Jaros said he sympathizes with the school board's need to address declining enrollment. He said he also understands that a number of facilities are badly in need of repair. However, he said the plan the school board adopted is too expensive and relies too heavily on property taxes.
"Their plan to address
declining enrollment and address the need for repairs is going to cost almost
half a billion dollars. Almost all of that is going to come from regressive
property taxes. Even for a liberal like me, that's too high a price tag. The
district is already facing a $5 million deficit and the above plan will probably
double that. Other school districts - such as Brainerd,
Of the $293 million to be expended for the Red Plan only
about $10 million will have been spent during its first construction season.
There is ample time to reintroduce Mike’s original legislation next year
We are asking all the legislative candidates who, if
elected, would represent some portion of the