1. The Duluth Area
Chamber of Commerce and its board of directors support
709ís Long Range Facilities Plan. We believe the plan effectively
addresses the districtís aging infrastructure; improves the
educational adequacy of the districtís buildings and addresses the
districtís declining enrollment and its current overcapacity.
Moreover, the plan provides students and their parents the stability
that comes from knowing what will occur within the district for years to
public schools have 28 percent too much space and are facing declining
enrollment. The cost of owning and operating that space is concurrently
increasing. Few businesses can justify or afford the cost of heating,
maintaining and insuring that much excess space. Most business
owners would make tough decisions to rectify such a situation.
The school board is like most business owners ó
it made the tough decisions needed in order to be an effective business.
The results of these decisions are manifested in the districtís Long
Range Facilities Plan.
The plan takes
from three high schools to two; four middle schools to two; and 11
elementaries to nine. It also rebuilds or refurbishes those remaining
schools and brings them to modern standards.
It is a bold initiative that will require a $257 million investment; 3.
residents will see a $125 million tax impact.
Yet, 4. there is no time better than
today to begin the work at hand. Interest rates are low; executing
the project now means the district can lock in low-interest rates for 20
years. Construction costs are only going to get higher. Waiting, as we
have unfortunately done for far too many years, only makes the projects
5. Investing in our schools is a long
overdue initiative. 6. The average
age of our school buildings is 54 years old. More than 60 percent of
our school space doesnít meet code in areas including: air and water
quality; handicap accessibility and the ability to support modern
educational programs. Most of our schools were built when security
wasnít such a seminal issue.
7. If the cost to bring an old school
up to standards is more than 60 percent of the cost of a new school,
state standards require school districts to build a new school in order
to receive funds for construction. That is why the plan includes a
combination of school renovation and the building of new schools.
8. The Duluth Area Chamber of
Commerceís Board of Directors endorsed and advocated for the
implementation of the Long Range Facilities Plan. Further, the
Chamber and its leadership continue to have confidence in the effective
implementation of the plan by the Duluth Public Schools Board and the
Superintendent of Schools.
The Duluth Public Schools Board has been implementing the plan for
the past year. Financing has been secured. Bonds have been sold.
Construction plans have been completed. Supplies have been assembled.
Properties have been purchased. 9. Work
10. I hope we, as a community, can come
to fully understand and respect how the decision to move forward with
the plan is no longer open to debate. The decision was made a year ago.
It has been acted upon. It is done.
Let us redirect our collective attention to supporting the
as it endeavors to move our community forward.