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Jerry Foster: A difference between ‘terrible’ and ‘tough’ decisions

November 3, 2018

In a past letter is the statement that the present board has made “terrible decisions.” The writer gave no examples or sound evidence backing up the statement.

There is a large gap between “terrible decisions” and “tough decisions.” The present Winona school board has had to make tough decisions based on the information they have.

Do I always agree with their “tough decisions?” Maybe. Realistically, I can not answer that question without all the information that the decision was based on. Example: The decision to close Central, Madison and Rollingstone. Tell me how to pay the bills without lowering the quality of the education given the students. Just the electric bill for these three schools last year was thousands of dollars.

In 2010-11, when these schools were flourishing, enrollment in the district numbered 3,230 students K-12. Today, the enrollment is 2,761. I am told the state pays $6,000 per student. The income decline is staggering since 2010-11: $1,794,000. The decline has many causes.

The Save our School individuals say it could have been done, but I did not see any specific plan to accomplish this by those that are making this claim other than general generic statements. I want to know specifically where they would have taken the money from, what programs would have been affected and to what degree they would have been affected. Had they presented this, it should have been considered. If a solid financial program/detailed plan was presented then I missed it and I apologize.

I personally know only one member of the board, Ben Baratto. He has devoted his entire career to education as a teacher in this district. Knowing Ben, I know his decisions are thoroughly thought through in each situation in support of doing what is the right direction for the students and to maintain the integrity of the district. He is highly regarded in the educational community, as are others on the board. I thank and respect them for what they do.

The present board gives hours of time to this task. In my opinion, it is not fair or correct to chastise the entire board doing a difficult job claiming their decisions are terrible without supporting any evidence.

Jerry Foster, Winona