Tuesday, September 23, 2008 By Aaron Brown
The exuberance of the various school officials in the story is nice to see, but the problem here is that the actual "boom" isn't going to be immediate or contained in one calendar year. In fact, the boom will be tempered by the fact that the Range economy is coming off three decades of contraction and that there are still a lot of underemployed people around here looking for good jobs. Development is good and should be celebrated, but I still think our school districts need to stash the champagne and get their books and facilities in order for their immediate needs before we spend money toward the possibility of an enrollment increase some vague time between next year and 2016. They "overprepared" for expansion down in exurban Isanti County north of the Cities and ended up having to lay off teachers in the fastest growing and youngest part of the state two years ago. If we go gangbusters on enrollment increase expectations, we're just going to end up back in the same spot.
Don't forget the Iron Range tradition. Scrimp in bad times. Save in good times. If you want my opinion, now is a great time to talk about district consolidations in conjunction with facility upgrades to make educational operations more efficient around here. Then, as enrollment expands our schools can do their jobs by asking "what can we do to best serve our students?" I hope the answer is better and more diverse curriculum that prepares Range kids for a 21st century economy that, it finally appears, will include the Iron Range.