Does the Winona Area Public Schools Board have no shame?


(8/22/2018)

From: Gabe Dybing

I’m usually in support of public officials who “change their minds” when faced with new and convincing evidence contrary to their once-held positions, but the WAPS School Board’s recent about-face on school sales undermines its credibility rather than builds it.

At the meeting to sell schools, board member Karen Coleman cherry-picked portions of an article to claim that selling schools at abysmally low prices was what any “thinking” person would do. During the public comments section of a later meeting, Kendall Larson encouraged the School Board to read the entirety of this same article and then showed how the piece might argue against what Coleman concluded; sadly, I suspect Larson’s analysis required too much “thought” from most of the board.

Even Jay Kohner, at the time of sales, expressed ambivalence about the low bids. Yet superintendent Dahman repeatedly said that they were fair, that trying the process again might result in even lower bids, and that rejecting the current procedure would betray community trust; he emphatically recommended that the board accept the offers. This while another potential buyer offered much more money in full conformance — except he was too late. And it’s easy to be late when a fundamental component of Dahman’s bid process appears to be two public notices in a single local paper. In fact, if one were sniffing out corruption, it would almost appear like Dahman was rewarding the high bidder by reducing competition for a modest bid. This in payment for services rendered, for participating in two task forces in support of Dahman’s agenda, perhaps? Or is this merely an expedient way to unload unwanted yet highly valuable properties?

To make my point clear, now that this bidder’s contingencies aren’t met, the School Board shamelessly is claiming that these bids actually were too low and that perhaps a better organized sales process would garner more money. Oh, and I guess they no longer care about this sacred trust with the community. What actually changed? Did the board do some research, learn new information? No. It appears that the bids now are too low on no other grounds than that Dahman has told them so. How can anyone trust these people anymore? If this is not corruption (and believe me, I have been trying to find that missing piece in all these shenanigans), then it is gross incompetence. Community, call your School Board officials and tell them to stop making any high stakes decisions; tell them to stop taking recommendations from Dahman. Tell them to do their research. Most of all think very carefully about whom you elect. Something twisted and wrong is going on. While board member Allison Quam proposes “collaborating” with the city over a sensible reuse study of our public land for the good of the entire community, member Steven Schild worries about “abdicating” power. He races, in the face of all common sense, to sell these schools to any likely bidder. It’s almost like he’s afraid that the next board might think differently than he does. Let’s hope it does!

 

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