From: Steve Schild
First-district director Winona Area Public Schools Board
I’m a member of the School Board accused of being asleep at the wheel by Darrell Downs, a Winona State professor and husband of one-term School-Board member Natalie Siderius. There’s a lot that can be said in response to Mr. Downs’ broadside, but I’ll limit my reply here to two items:
If Mr. Downs is so confident that the board has the wrong solution for dealing with our financial and enrollment realities, why doesn’t he tell us the right solution? In the nearly two years the board has discussed and studied our facilities situation, no one, Mr. Downs included, has come forward with anything even remotely resembling a plausible plan for resolving our dilemma, which is, pure and simple, that we have more buildings than we need or can afford. Why has no one provided a “better” answer? Because there is none. If you’ve got a better idea, Mr. Downs, please let us know — and make it specific rather than a sackful of glittering generalities.
This farmer’s son finds especially galling Mr. Downs’ remarks about “families with limited means [who] have no choice but to endure.” Nothing does more damage to the educational quality provided to middle- and low-income students than the status quo Mr. Downs defends. Because we spend so much money on buildings we don’t need, kids who need extra academic help don’t get that help, or they get less help than they need. Because we spend so much money on buildings we don’t need, kids who need support services such as counseling, nursing, and mental-health services don’t get them, or they get less help than they need. The children being short-changed are, generally speaking, the children of families who don’t have a lot of money.
So, to repeat: If you’ve truly got a better solution, Mr. Downs, please share it with us. And provide plenty of detail to demonstrate that it would actually work.
Finally, as I’ve asked you before about our 80-plus-year-old elementary schools, would you have us keep them all open forever?