Editorial: Three cheers for these three2011 was a tough year to be a River Falls school board member.
2011 was a tough year to be a River Falls school board member.
The economy kept tanking but the upkeep, safety and other upgrades needed by our local public schools piled up.
After many months of study and revisions, the school board proposed a $39-million levy referendum to address these building needs. That referendum, however, was defeated in a close vote last April.
The school board then reaffirmed its commitment to the objectives of the first referendum, but broke up the multi-project single question into a three-part referendum for November.
Voters narrowly passed a key first question. They decisively rejected the other two referendum questions.
In public and private, school board members took heat.
They were criticized for the high price tag of the first April referendum.
Others were angry about the decision to force a second referendum just seven months after a majority of voters had spoken.
The three-question results of the November referendum — one yes, two no — were hardly a ringing endorsement for the school board’s agenda.
And the school board deserves blame for not getting a better read on the community pulse. Despite low construction costs and interest rates, the economic pain residents felt trumped those factors. The board misjudged the depth of the local pain.
That said, look who’s filed — so far — to run in the spring school board election: Alan Tuchtenhagen, Barb Kolpin and Mike Miller.
Three incumbents! And where are the school board critics?
On the sidelines, complaining but not trying to assume the burdens and demands of public office.
Tuchtenhagen, Kolpin and Miller are ready to keep shouldering those burdens. Their candidacies are obviously motivated by something other than feeding at the public trough.
School board members earn between $2,000 and $2,400 a year. That’s less than City Council members earn. There’s been no school board pay increase since the mid-1990s.
Meanwhile, starting this summer, you’ll notice work being done at our schools. The projects will make building entrances safer and more secure. Heating systems will be made more energy efficient and cost effective.
These and other renovations resulted from passage of the one referendum question — the one backed by Tuchtenhagen, Kolpin and Miller.
Any other school board candidates have until the end of the day Jan. 3 to register. The school district’s central office, 852 E. Division St., reopens Monday, Jan. 2.
The Journal’s online poll question asked: What was your reaction to the demolition of Lund’s Hardware on Main Street?
The early response: Very sad, it hurt to see that absence, 61.1%. Felt brief nostalgic twinge, 22.2%. Just another old building, hope they do something nice for that corner, 16.7%. Thanks for reminding me, I forgot about it already, 0%.
To register your poll question response, go to www.riverfallsjournal.com.