The Plan B Petition is Valid
Here's the story from the Duluth News Tribune
Duluth may get to weigh in on school district's building plans
Community members still might have a chance to vote on the long-range
building plan for the Duluth school district — but the results won’t be
The mission of Let Duluth Vote was reinvigorated Thursday by news that a petition filed by the group in early spring will now be accepted by the Duluth school district. The petition calls for putting a cheaper alternative to the district’s long-range plan, known as the red plan, up for a public vote. If it gets there, the Duluth School Board doesn’t have to adhere to the result.
Superintendent Keith Dixon said, however, that the district would re-examine its position on the red plan if Plan B is approved by voters.The Duluth school district’s legal counsel had ruled the Let Duluth Vote petition invalid, citing problems with its language. That decision was overruled this week by the Minnesota Office of the Attorney General.
“The Attorney General’s Office didn’t exactly say it was valid, but they said it could not be ruled invalid, which gives me reason enough to say it’s important to move forward with this,” Dixon said. He added that he looks forward to allowing a comparison between Let Duluth Vote’s plan, known as Plan B, with the red plan so community members could see the quality of the plan in place.
“I don’t see this — I never have — as being about winners or losers. It’s about trying to find solutions for this community,” he said.
Members of Let Duluth Vote welcomed the news.
“Let Duluth Vote has always been about trying to give the people of Duluth a chance to vote on a long-range plan,” said Harry Welty, a spokesperson for Let Duluth Vote. “The public should have had a say in the original red plan. … This is a step in the right direction; if it leads to something smaller and more acceptable to the public, hooray.”
Plan B is similar to the Red plan but it calls for keeping three middle schools and three high schools open. It costs $194 million, compared to the red plan’s $293 million.
Before anything shows up on a ballot, members of Let Duluth Vote must work with the district to flesh out details of the group’s proposal, such as how it would be financed and what kind of tax impact it would have. It’s up to Let Duluth Vote to initiate that first step, Dixon said.
Then the plan must be approved by the Minnesota Department of Education. If all those hurdles are cleared, the earliest a vote could occur is probably January.
Meanwhile, implementation of the red plan will continue undeterred, Dixon said.
“It wouldn’t be wise to do anything else; every day we wait costs more money — plus, there is a lot of overlap between the two plans anyway,” he said.