MS had sent me an email earlier criticizing me because he assumed I wanted to close Central High School. I explained that I proposed closing East. That satisfied him until he read one of the emails I had posted on this site. 

Harry - In a response you sent to me last week (shown after this message), you indicated that you had proposed Central would be a better location for a high school in a two high school system. If this is the case, what do you mean by your statement to your fellow counselors on 03/17/2000 concerned with splitting the Central part of town into two high schools (see your comments in quotes immediately below)? With all due respect, this doesn't
sound like someone proposing Central as one of the remaining two high schools. Could you please explain these seemingly conflicting standpoints?
"The symmetry our first plan envisions will eventually fail. Sooner or later the Central part of town will have to split its children into two high
schools. Why not get it over with now and consolidate the high schools. When some future Board finely does it the people of that time will wonder why we didn't do it now when the time was ripe."

My Reply


If Central becomes the other school instead of East, with the 10-12 arrangement I'm advocating, we will still need to draw up more equal boundaries meaning that some Central kids would be drawn into the Denfeld area and thus split off from their friends.

Keeping Central as the other eastern high school is still more painful for the Central kids than it would be for the East kids who would just move a couple miles to the west but still be kept together.

Thanks Harry - While I don't like it, I understand the logic. What a mess. I don't mean to take up all of your time, but I am hoping you might help me understand how we have gotten to this point. Please understand, I don't blame the school board, especially this school board - most of you folks have inherited this and I wouldn't want to be in and of your shoes! While we sometimes don't agree, I always appreciate your dedication.

I have had discussions with some friends of mine that study, in depth, the changes to public education. I have to admit, they make a lot of sense, but I don't know enough to believe all that they are saying is accurate. Let me summarize their beliefs: I'm cutting this email off here to show you the ideas on MS's list I responded to with further email:

Mark, The Duluth School district has been in the unfortunate position to take things way ever since the decline in our student population began. I think we should have been tweaking school boundaries every year rather than wait until schools became lopsided but its so controversial its been an easy decision to postpone. But, now we're here.

As for your other questions here's how I'd answer them. Expect a series of emails on this. 
<< - In the early years of public education, there was less
administration involved (translating to more dollars available for actual
Not exactly. A greater percentage of the overall dollars spent on salaries on education went for teachers than administrators but overall dollars for both have increased. By the way, a week ago the Trib showed how much costs for various categories of ISD 709 spending had increased over the last decade. Adm had increased 4% but instructional costs had increased something like 89 %.

<< - Over the years, the state and federal levels have become much more involved in education and as a result, have instituted more and more rules and regulations. This translates to more administration needed to adhere to these rules and regulations. >>

Absolutely, It has happened everywhere in government and is a cost of making sure that what the congress or legislature wants to have happen actually happens. You need to have more administrators to keep track of whether the the law is being followed. A book, whose title I've forgotten, was written about this phenomenon.

<< - They also believe that the state and federal governments are
effectively reducing control of education by local governments and citizens. They stated that the state can effectively remove a school counselor under certain conditions - is this really true?

I think the answer to the first is yes. Whether this is good or bad depends on your point of view. As for the second assertion I think "they" must be talking about a courtroom situation. Certainly the state gives counselors teachers and others licenses. They can be revoked for cause.

<< Also, has a study ever been done to see how much administration has grown with respect to student population size? >>

Since our student population has declined over the last decade but Adm increased by 4 percent it has grown relative to the student population.

<< I have been taught the principles of process improvement in my business life. Process improvement is a great tool. However, sometimes "the process" becomes more important than "the outcome". That is, HOW we do something becomes more important than just getting it done. It is my own belief that a consistently growing administration is a sure sign that someone has been fiddling with "the process" instead of worrying about the work that needs to be done. >>

We constantly have critics that second guess us about our process. Did we follow it? Did it involve the parents? Did we properly notify the public?

While these are serious questions we are still left with the outcome. I'm interested in the former only because when we finally settle on an outcome I don't want it to be second guessed for how we arrived at it.

<< I, like many, don't trust that we are really fixing the problem. >>

"Trust" has always been in short supply in the Duluth School District.

Thank you for being courteous and taking the time to discuss education issues via e-mail. I realize that you are busy and appreciate the attention you have given to my questions. We may or may not have different positions on various issues, but I believe you are open to suggestions and proposed compromises.