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Our View/Endorsement: Loeffler-Kemp still the pick in eastern Duluth

“I look forward to ensuring that students reach their full potential, staff have a great place to work in our district, and our public schools are our schools of choice for families.”

Loeffler-Kemp, Rosie.jpg
Rosie Loeffler-Kemp
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A mother of four, a founder of the Lakeside-Lester Park Community Club, a statewide parent-teacher association president, and more, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, even before she ran for School Board, was impressively involved and a leader committed to Duluth and its young learners.

Over eight years on the board, Loeffler-Kemp has grown from grass-roots activism to committed elected representative, and on Election Day on Nov. 2, she’s the logical pick for eligible voters in the Duluth school district’s eastern District 1.

“I understand community engagement. I also understand the role of a school board member, and I bring a holistic approach to governance,” Loeffler-Kemp said at a News Tribune- and Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce-hosted public candidate forum in mid-September.

“I’ve built relationships with school board members across the state and the country to learn best practices. I do my research. I’m excited to serve the community again,” she further said. “I look forward to ensuring that students reach their full potential, staff have a great place to work in our district, and our public schools are our schools of choice for families.”

Loeffler-Kemp can be credited for helping to expand Head Start and early childhood education programs and working to strengthen the district’s commitment to “community schools.” She also has supported increasing online and alternative class offerings, career and technical education, and mental health assistance, all of which address achievement and opportunity gaps. She has worked with the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation on Opportunity Rising, a community-wide effort to close those gaps.

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With graduation rates for children from wealthier families at about 90% in Duluth but only at about 60% for kids from families which qualify for reduced-priced lunches — among other still-sobering graduation and achievement statistics — more work clearly needs to be done. All of us in the Duluth district can hold Loeffler-Kemp and her colleagues accountable for scoring more wins on these fronts.

“The achievement gap (and) the opportunity gap (have) to continue to be addressed collaboratively with our city, with our county, with the state, and at the federal level,” Loeffler-Kemp said at the virtual forum, demonstrating an understanding of the enormity of the issues and the need for a big-picture approach. “The issue with the achievement gap is happening all across the state and all across the country.”

Unpopular with some, Loeffler-Kemp said at the forum she stands by a district policy against selling closed school buildings to competing educational entities. The policy blocked the sale of the Central High School site for $14.2 million in 2016 to Duluth Edison Charter School. The policy is meant to protect the district fiscally in the long term, even if it means missing out on more-immediate cash grabs.

She also stands, she said — and this one deserves broader support from the public — by board decisions to sell Historic Old Central High School to a developer, freeing the district and its taxpayers from millions in ongoing maintenance costs, and to use the Central site on top of the hill for administrative and transportation facilities, which made the rest of the site more marketable. The latter decision helped the district finally sell the Central site to a developer. The plan includes tearing down the 1970s-era school with cost estimates for its rehabilitation and reuse prohibitively high.

Loeffler-Kemp is being challenged by Dana Krivogorsky, who ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat on the board in 2017 and a year later fell short in her bid for the Legislature. Krivogorsky is a research scientist who most recently worked in the chemistry department of the University of Minnesota Duluth and is a first-generation immigrant from Ukraine, arriving in the U.S. in 1992.

“I have a very knowledgeable, no-nonsense approach. I’m also very sad and very disheartened by the financial state of affairs in our school district. That will be my main goal if I'm elected, to sort out and make sure the money goes directly to the classrooms.”

The district’s finances aren’t as dire as they’ve been, and with Loeffler-Kemp, voters can opt for a focus on the future and on solving issues plaguing the district now.

Loeffler-Kemp is ready to continue to serve. She said, “I look forward to using my leadership and my knowledge to continue to advocate for all of the students across the district — like I have done for the last 27 years.”

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ABOUT THIS ENDORSEMENT: This News Tribune endorsement was determined entirely by the newspaper's editorial board. Board members are identified daily atop the Opinion page and online at duluthnewstribune.com/opinion.

WATCH THE FORUM: The Duluth School Board candidate forums sponsored by the News Tribune and Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce are posted for viewing, on demand, at duluthnewstribune.com. The link is here

Related Topics: OUR VIEWDULUTH SCHOOL BOARDHISTORIC OLD CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
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