As a former School Board member who opened Central High School in 1972 when the district had an enrollment of 25,000 students, I’m unable to accept the district’s latest bonding plan without voter approval (“Bonding bill gives Duluth schools levy authority,” Oct. 17).

Our Reps. Mary Murphy and Liz Olson and our Sens. Eric Simonson and Tom Bakk authored legislation during the regular session last year that wasn’t passed. Somehow it got into the bonding bill, though, which was approved. The legislation includes two exceptions, removing the opportunity for voter approval. It authorizes the sale of Historic Old Central, the construction or acquisition of new administrative space and transportation maintenance and bus-storage facilities, improvements to roads and infrastructure, and the demolition of Central High School. The legislation’s heading, “School Building Efficiencies,” clearly does not match these plans. The legislation calls for “savings.” Citing the sale of Old Central as “savings” does not, in my opinion, qualify.

I’ve emailed the legislation’s main author, Rep. Murphy, starting on May 3 and through Dec. 31, without any response to my questions regarding how this legislation qualifies. I did get a response from a School Board member to my Jan. 9 email. I was told the district staying in Old Central would cost $20 million more.

The sale of Old Central will require the relocation of departments and programs this summer. Many options are available for relocation, including the potential of a new Central with minimal costs.

With little local coverage of this beyond the News Tribune, the majority of Duluthians are likely unaware. The $31.5 million in bonding for an administration building and bus facilities is not warranted, in my opinion, with today's district enrollment under 8,000.

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I ask Duluthians to please contact School Board members and ask them to stop this bonding for the benefit of our students.

Richard Paulson


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