Iron Range education at a crossroads

As a loyal WDIO viewer I missed a couple of interesting education stories from Northland’s News Center (Channels 3, 6, 11, et al).

On consolidation … and on the future of Iron Range education. Both of the stories focus on the plight of the St. Louis County school district, which is important, but a Range-wide discussion about the merits of consolidation and a new focus on educational outcomes is also long overdue.

St. Louis County schools are holding a special Dec. 8 operating levy vote that some say could determine the survival of this rural northern Minnesota district.


  1. Although a number of the ISD 2142 (St. Louis Co Schools) students open enroll to the Range schools, most or many of the students live too far to attend on the Range. That’s a lot of travel for the students, and it takes the parents out of the equation for being the best supporters for their kids and community schools. Some kids already travel at least 20 miles to get to some of the smaller schools. Add on another 28 – 45 miles? I don’t think so…

    I can understand why you might support a Range-wide school system, but we need change now, we can’t wait to get consolidation. There will be schools closing next year without some changes soon.

    The biggest problem now is that the kids who open enroll take the money with them, but their parents are paying the lower tax rates of the location of their house. If schools close and an area is absorbed into a neighboring school district, then the tax rates will go up, as much as double for the school portion, but those people weren’t part of the vote for that.

    There has been too much talk about closing schools and such and what that will do to the local business communities, and there has not been enough talk about what is best for the students and their education. The local business people need to remember that people, ie young people, aren’t going to move where their kids have to travel 40 miles to go to school. That will hurt the businesses more than moving schools a few miles out into the country.

  2. You’re right that some parts of 2142 are not compatible with a “Range” school district. Indeed, some of those areas are not financially compatible with any district. That’s unfortunate.

    Your observation about the tax rates is also correct. If the SLC voters knew what they were doing they’d OK that referendum pronto, or else face the higher tax rates of Virginia, Hibbing or others.

    Fundamentally, however, I am losing patience with the various anecdotal barriers to consolidation. The problem is NOW, not tomorrow. By tomorrow it will be too late.

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