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Thumbs up and down

Thumbs up to the Wrenshall and Carlton School Boards and community members for doing due diligence on the consolidation issue raised (not for the first time) by the grassroots Better Together group. Although they are not consolidating, it seems both sides worked together better this time to, granted, reach basically the same conclusion. It seems like things were different this time though. Less bitterness. More understanding. There is very real hope that the two school districts will partner again — maybe next year, maybe in a more distant future — in some sports and other extracurricular activities and even academically. There’s no doubt that each school district has much to be proud of. Let’s just hope that the pride of adults doesn’t get in the way of offering the kids in those school districts the best possible academic experience in an increasingly competitive world.

Along the same topic, thumbs up to Better Together, for having the brains and the gumption to pass around the first ever consolidation petition in Minnesota history. You should get a democracy award, for using your power as citizens to get elected officials to take action. Granted, it wasn’t the action you wanted in the end, but they paid attention and had a very real discussion. They also had some very lengthy public meetings that many other citizens participated in. We know some of those citizens were disparaging of your efforts, but we disagree with them and note that a society with no room for civil debate is not a society any American should want to live in. You should be proud of yourselves.

Thumbs down to what seems to have been a trend in the Cloquet School District last year and before, of not seeking legal advice when signing important contracts. First it was the contract with the construction manager and architect, signed before the referendum ever passed. Will we ever know if the job could have been done cheaper? No. But there’s no doubt that a little competition will often give better results than just gift-wrapping a multi-million dollar contract from the get-go. Then there was the Springsted contract with its indemnification clause. Reader Jerry Olson says it better than we can in his letter to the editor on this page. In short, we hope the district has learned its lesson and will utilize the services of its attorney more often in the future. Play all those experts who keep giving flawed advice against each other.

Thumbs up to all of our area schools and everything they offer kids today, especially in the world of educational extracurricular activities. From the dynamic duo in Wrenshall headed to the Business Professionals of America national competition after winning state, to the Esko Robotics team that will compete nationally, to the artists in Carlton, to all the Cloquet science fair kids who made it to state and various national and international competitions — bravo. Go forth and conquer. Make the world a better place. And don’t forget where you came from.

~ Jana Peterson