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What the experts say

Harry Welty, former school board member Go down to two high schools: Denfeld should stay because the western community won't give it up without a bitter fight, and the location and size of Central's site is too precious to let go. Leave the rest ...

Harry Welty, former school board member

Go down to two high schools: Denfeld should stay because the western community won't give it up without a bitter fight, and the location and size of Central's site is too precious to let go. Leave the rest of the district alone for the time being.

The high number of elementary schools in the district is somewhat justified given the district's unusually long shape.

George Balach, former school board member

Decide on the ideal grade configurations for schools, and then cut accordingly at the high school level, probably keeping Denfeld and East, Balach said. Make decisions about which schools should stay based on their location and how well they meet modern educational needs.

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Tom Boman, education professor at UMD and occasional columnist for the Duluth NewsTribune

The district should reconfigure Central into a K-8 building. Boman said research indicates shaky success from the middle school system and advocates transforming all elementary and middle schools into K-8 schools. "In effect, Duluth would eventually have a K-8, 9-12 system."

Mark Myles, former superintendent

Final decisions should not be made until the community starts talking about the purpose of district buildings. Function follows form, so the community needs to make some decisions about expectations for students before it can start seriously talking about how district facilities can best facilitate those goals. So far we have a great database of information about the inadequate size of parking lots, but what about the stuff that really matters?

Steve McNeill, architect who used to serve as the plant manager for the district

If the district downsizes to two high schools, it should split up grades and send ninth and 10th-grade students to one building and 11th- and 12th-grade students to the other to avoid dividing the community. "In a corporate restructuring project you would never just lay off everyone at the bottom without considering the other levels; if you don't do it now you're just going to need to deal with it later."

Eric Kaiser, continuous improvement facilitator for the district

Convert the high schools, one of which was originally built to be a junior high, into middle schools and build two new high schools on each side of town. The rest of the district should be downsized based on the education industry's recommendations about ideal school sizes. Schools would be rebuilt, renovated or closed dependent on their location in the district and educational adequacy.

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