Dire scenarios discussed for St. Louis County Schools

Most news and education observers in northern Minnesota know that the St. Louis County Schools are in a heap of financial and enrollment trouble. All Iron Range and Duluth area schools are struggling to cover unfunded mandates, maintain quality curriculum and pay huge legacy costs with less funding and fewer students. The St. Louis County schools — Albrook, Cotton, Babbitt-Embarrass, Tower-Soudan, Cook, Orr and my alma mater Cherry — are in even worse shape because of their rural locations, high costs and above-average declining enrollment.

The district is now sharing its top three options for balancing its budget. All of them seem to include closing Cotton. Most likely Cook and Orr would be closed with a new school built in a convenient location between these two northern towns (a little like building a school in a convenient location between the Siberian villages of Tsktkkrrk and Srkkq). And some similar combination could occur at Tower-Soudan and Babbitt-Embarrass. Check out the story from today’s Mesabi Daily News or the Timberjay.


  1. Save our Schools: encourage blackouts. Blackouts = more babies = more school kids = more state funding = keeping the schools open.

    Seriously though, I hadn’t realized how much the enrollment had dropped. My daughter’s class was right around 75 kids, now the average in our local school is about 25. You just can’t have many electives with those numbers.

    However, I can’t see people voting for a bond issue to build new schools when they defeated three bond issues, small bond issues, by the way, in the past. With fewer schools, more time and money would be spent on transportation, so there is a lot to be said for finding other solutions.

    IF the district is broken up and the kids and land annexed to other districts, the people will see huge property tax increases with no ability to vote for or against. All the surrounding districts have much, much higher property taxes, especially in Chisholm.

    I also would like to question the board on the Johnson Controls consulting contract. I read in another paper that in Duluth the JC contract calls for that company collecting a nice percentage of the building costs as fees. More details needed, obviously.

  2. “a little like building a school in a convenient location between the Siberian villages of Tsktkkrrk and Srkkq”

    Made me laugh.

  3. What’s I don’t understand is why people aren’t talking about this in terms of the unraveling of the Minnesota Miracle (1971) that will be the undoing of rural school districts and local government alike.

    Is this the kind of Minnesota you really want to have?

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