Archive for June, 2008

281 Leadership Shows None Lately

June 22, 2008

An interesting editorial at the MN Sun Post:

The district spent $20,000 for a strategic planning consultant and completed a whirlwind process that involved input from at least 1,000 residents and resulted in a call for improved communication.

The district now has committed $17,500 for a financial planning program, led by a consultant who is suggesting the district needs to look at reducing its staff.

A citizens group called Unite 281 has worked hard to get signatures from 1,000 people requesting a levy referendum on the Nov. 4 election ballot.

Area residents have spent hours of time and raised thousands of dollars to reinstate after-school activities that were cut for the 2008-09 school year following last fall’s failed referendum.

And hundreds of residents who flooded the board room last fall when school closings were being considered have offered their help and support in maintaining the district’s standards.

Now it’s the School Board’s turn to act. It should select members for a citizens financial committee and get that group up and running without further delay.

It must select a board member to replace Paul Magnuson, who is moving to Switzerland this August.

And the board needs to reach consensus on a list of proposed reductions for the 2009-10 budget.

Here’s one opportunity to gain public trust by selecting a qualified replacement. Read more examples of why there needs to be a serious shakeup with the leadership.

Citizens and consultants alike have pinpointed a need for strong board leadership and improved district communication.

Both of those areas need immediate attention. School Board meetings are long and not nearly as productive as they need to be. Instead of biting the bullet and moving ahead, board members continue to postpone decisions and request additional information from staff.

As a result, the School Board finds itself in the same position as it did in 2007. It is heading into summer – when many of its constituents are on vacation – with significant decisions hanging in the balance.

A four-hour School Board work session on June 9, for example, was frustratingly inefficient, fraught with tedious work-smithing and unfocused discussions. The bulk of the agenda was pushed to yet another work session in July. The School Board doesn’t have this kind of time to waste.

It is well past time for the board to exercise strong leadership and address the important issues it faces. The time for making decisions is now.

Stonewalling is central to most of this administration, and these examples highlight their incompetence. Hopefully someone will present leadership while citizens work towards replacing them with competent leaders next year. Superintendent Mack’s contract also expires next year. Let’s hope it’s not renewed.

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Referendum Sequel Coming This Fall

June 21, 2008

It’s returning this November: another tax grab attempt from those told by voters that they had enough taxpayer money to work with. They didn’t get the message.

Robbinsdale District 281 will seek more money from voters this fall for the second time in two years, the School Board decided at a work session June 9.

The board’s unanimous decision for a referendum vote Nov. 4 followed a presentation by Unite 281, a committee of parents who have collected 1,000 signatures from people supporting another chance to vote on a school referendum

The interesting part is that not all on the school board are down with it, or the group Unite 281.

“The message from the Unite 281 group did not come across as a message of unity,” [Paul] Magnuson said. “I would like to stress that I hope the community comes together and unites and doesn’t just follow a smaller group of folks who have called themselves to unite, but have engaged in some strong-arm tactics right from the beginning. That isn’t going to be terribly helpful.”

Boardmember Helen Bassett questioned how the district will deal with its three remaining unremodeled elementary school buildings, plus the issues of declining enrollment and the communities’ preference for neighborhood schools.

“I wonder if this is a good time to go out for any kind of referendum, quite frankly,” she said. “We should be thinking about bonding, as well. Maybe we should think about both.”

How much will they ask for this time?

The board will discuss ballot questions, the dollar amount of the operating levy and its potential financial impact on the district at a work session Monday, July 14.

Mack assured the board there’s still time to change their minds about a referendum.

What part of “NO” did they not understand last November? Let them know how you feel.

  • Source: MN Sun Post
  • Unite 281 web site (not much useful information displayed, but it features a full list of union/school PAC supporter links).