ProBOLD Outcry Over Business List

Because there have been questions from both sides about the “Stop Bold Cold Business Supporter List,” which I initiated, organized and managed for about 2 weeks in February, I want to offer an explanation.

The List:

I was shocked when I learned of the BOLD proposal this January. It seemed to defy all logic as a way to improve anything in our schools or our community.

Closing 3 schools and building one because of declining/increasing enrollment? The schools slated to close have increased enrollment, so…? Which is it? Empty classrooms are a problem (but not in the schools slated to close….so..?) I voted to keep my taxes high to save the schools, so why is it OK to change the promise to me and other voters? How would northern Stillwater communities survive with an educational “dead zone?” Why would the school be willing to create this dead zone which would change our community forever? They say the northern schools cost too much, but in reality they are in line with all the other schools. The admin says we have “benefitted from smaller classes,” but that is untrue. Our schools may be smaller, but the class size averages are in line with classes throughout the district.

There were so many contradictions and false statements put out by our administration, I became fixated on finding the truth. I started connecting with others who felt the same and when I connected, it was mentioned that Main Street businesses “X, Y and Z” had made public statements in agreement. I went on their FB sites and read their statements. It was reassuring to know that others, not just parents at the affected schools were stepping up to help. I made a post on my page, something to the effect of, “Even these long standing Stillwater businesses are questioning the rationale of BOLD.” It only had about 5 businesses at that point. I also shared it on the Support Our Schools page.

My inbox EXPLODED! IMMEDIATELY. Everyone started telling me other businesses that had made public statements or had posted Stop BOLD Cold signs, posters, etc. I started adding to my list of “business who were questioning BOLD.”

In a matter of DAYS, businesses were ASKING how to get on the list. I never left my home computer to make the list. I never called and pressured anyone to get on the list. Businesses contacted ME, I would ask for a way to validate that they were the owners/managers, etc, I would record that and then I would add them to the list. I personally spoke with only a handful of business owners via phone, just to confirm their desire to be on the list. One particular older gentleman stated that it would be “an honor” if I would put his business on the list.

It is true, that after about a week, some Stop Bold Cold supporters did go out and ask the rest of the businesses if they wanted to add their support, but I do not believe they felt “strong-armed” or harassed into this. I hope not, as that was not how this all began. The fact of the matter is that many, many members of our community do not feel that BOLD will be helpful for our schools OR our community. It definitely has a high chance of hurting us more than helping us.

The list grew from 5 to I think over 100 now in less than two weeks.

My list has always said that these businesses are “stepping up to question BOLD,” not anything else. It does not mean they have contributed money to the legal fund or signed any petitions. Just that they question BOLD, as many of us have.

These are the facts and brief (2 week) history behind the list.

I must add, ProBOLD has an endless and cheap way to spread its information via USPS, email, school forums where they can address the public. The AntiBOLD side has none of that, so I do not think is is unfair or unethical to simply make a list of businesses who are Anti-BOLD. The uproar is not justified. We are definitely the underdogs here, and must spread the truth however and whenever we can.

We all care about doing what is best for the community and our kids. We disagree about how to get there. BOLD has torn this community apart in a way I would have never imagined in December, while I was having a peaceful Christmas with my family and friends.

Hope we can fix this because back in December, I would have told anyone (except for the brutal winters), Stillwater is one of the most wonderful places on Earth to live.

To find ourselves here, really breaks my heart.

Jenna Weiss

(13 year resident and community volunteer)