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LETTER: Springsted should step up, tax error hurting a darn good school district

To the Editor:

Regarding the tax calculation mistake by Springsted Financial relative to our February 2015 referendum to build a middle school in District #94:

My concern for this problem goes beyond my present school board membership. My wife and I have a combined total of close to 100 years of Cloquet school service including board membership, teaching, coaching and volunteerism.

As a result of our contract with Springsted to survey the voters, to help plan the campaign, to build the tax calculator, and finally to sell the bonds of the passed referendum, our taxpayers have been taxed $3 million over what Springsted calculated for our campaign publicity. They admit the mistake to a miscalculation on their part and have apologized but have not been willing to make good on their financial errors and the money and good will we have lost as a district. They claim that due to a clause in the contract they have no responsibility as long as the district has not been damaged financially. The fiscal damage is to the taxpayers of Cloquet. The administration and the board of District 94 is suffering severe damage by its loss of credibility and assaults on personal integrity. It is my belief that Cloquet Schools will never again pass a referendum and will have a difficult time regaining public trust.

If you look to any letters to the editor, news and editorial columns in the Pine Journal and the Duluth News Tribune over the past two months, you will get a feeling for the resentment the community is feeling and expressing.

We are proud to find all our schools listing in the top 20 percent academically in Minnesota. Sadly, however, our wonderful little town lists at No. 4 in the worst cities in which to live in Minnesota. One of the criteria to get that position is how much the school district spends on education. And yes, we spend well below the state average and yet we are among the higher achieving schools and doing especially well at closing the achievement gap.

James Crowley, Cloquet School Board member