Opinion

Recent Posts

Opinion: Opponents of BOLD Proposal Lay Blame on Superintendent, Yet No Self-Responsibility Has Been Claimed

The privilege Americans have as members of a democracy is the ability to directly participate in our democracy. After reading through several articles, article comments, conversations with district residents, I am puzzled by the clear lack of understanding of how a democracy works. Citizens elect officials to best represent their views on the school board and in the state legislature. When enough people are fed up by the incumbent’s actions, one would generally assume that they’d vote the member out of their position. This is where 834 residents anger becomes fickle, because their actions don’t reflect their anger. Continue Reading →

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Mike Ptacek Shares His Views on Stillwater Area Public School’s BOLD Proposal

I still question the basic assumptions behind the BOLD proposal. Number 1, will the BOLD Proposal result in $1.26 million to be reinvested in the remaining 7 elementary schools if Withrow, Marine and Oak Park elementary schools are closed. The BOLD proponents have put forth this expectation as an enticement to garner support from the remaining 7elementary schools, but will it happen? Will the 250 displaced kids from Withrow, 156 from Marine and 450 from Oak Park travel to southern and western schools in District 834, and the approximate $10,000 in state per student aid follow them to those schools and into the coffers of the District? Or will a significant number of parents, who are questioning the wisdom and efficacy of the BOLD Proposal seek education elsewhere? Continue Reading →

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Shelley Pearson Shares Her Thoughts on Education, Discussion Surrounding Stillwater’s BOLD Proposal

Up until this moment, I have remained relatively quiet regarding the proposal from District 834 administration to close three elementary schools. I have been asking questions, responding to emails, meeting with community members, parents, staff and administration, losing sleep, sacrificing family time, and thinking about it constantly.  I will continue to do all of these things until my vote is cast on February 11. I signed up for this. You voted me in (I am blaming you a little). I will do my very best to make the right decision for our kids.     

During difficult moments of decision when the waters are muddy, I often head back to the website I used during my campaign (www.shelleypearson.net) to remind myself of what my values are. Continue Reading →

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An open letter to the Stillwater School Board regarding the BOLD Proposal

Hello. My name is Steve Carr. Personally, I have no “skin in the game” as my children are grown and doing well, due in part to the excellent education they received from Withrow Elementary School. As I have no knowledge of Oak Park Elementary School, I will confine my comments to Withrow & Marine although I imagine that the issues are similar regarding Oak Park. As you move down the path toward announcing your decision regarding the closure of the three elementary schools, please consider the following:

In the 35 years that I have lived in Withrow, it has always been obvious that District 834 has considered the Withrow & Marine elementary schools to be more of an unwanted liability than an asset. Continue Reading →

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Local Views: Disgusted By Lake Elmo City Council’s Ongoing Spectacle

Given newspaper stories over the last year, I have been drawn into watching the Lake Elmo Council meetings. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many I talk to, the council majority made up of Smith, Fliflet and Lundgren have shown themselves incapable of reaching sound decisions. I assume they are reasonably intelligent, but it appears their contempt for either Mayor Pearson, council member Bloyer and/or previous members of staff is impacting their ability to make sound decisions. They have caused a mass exodus of staff with their overbearing behavior and anyone who has paid even a modest interest in these proceedings understands this. Unfortunately, when council member Bloyer makes a few curt comments at a midnight council meeting, they seize on this episode as a way to explain those same staff departures on anyone but themselves. Continue Reading →

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Local Views: Stillwater’s B.O.L.D Proposal Will Impact All of Our Elementary Schools, Not Just Marine, Withrow and Oak Park

Dear Residents of the Stillwater Area School System,

In mid-December the superintendent and administration of Stillwater Area Schools proposed a plan to close Withrow, Marine, and Oak Park Elementary schools, under the guise of fiscal efficiency and higher educational quality and equity. The plan to “right-size” or consolidate our schools has been outlined in the district’s BOLD initiative.  The district’s intention of “right-sizing” our schools looks great on paper; however, national evidence-based studies have consistently shown that the negative effects of consolidation far outweigh the good. Proposed benefits of the BOLD initiative include:

Equitable learning experiences

Improved access to support services

Balanced class sizes across the district, and

Long-term stability for staffing (“BOLD FAQs,” 2015). Superficially, the benefits of BOLD seem worthy of “right sizing” our schools, however research shows that small school consolidation increases class sizes and student/teacher ratios, decreases academic performance, reduces rates of student participation in extracurricular activities, lowers graduation rates, decreases teacher performance, and is associated with more dangerous school environments (Howley, Johnson, & Petrie, 2011). Continue Reading →

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Editorial: Washington County Commissioner Gary Kriesel Talks Trash

Washington County commissioners run up against challenges each day we are in office – delivering social services in a cost-efficient manner, keeping up with road building and maintenance, maintaining the safety of residents. One of the biggest challenges that we have is garbage – how to reduce it, how to recycle it, and what to do with it once it is collected from households across the county. It’s a major question, because the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requires counties to manage solid waste. Unlike other challenges, there seems to be few good solutions to dealing with garbage. In the past, garbage went “away.” In recent years, we’ve found out that “away” is not a good place for garbage. Continue Reading →

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Local Views: A Hazel St Development that could add 182 daily cars crossing Browns Creek Trail

A proposed development of 19 homes at the west end of Hazel St could add 182 daily cars crossing Browns Creek Trail. If you are one of the many people out there enjoying the new trail, you have probably noticed the challenging trail crossing at the foot of steep Hazel St. It’s dangerous now, imagine 182 extra cars not to mention a few years of construction traffic coming together at that chaotic crossing. Hazel is a dead end narrow Street. There are only a few other way to access it without crossing the trail, and they aren’t real safe options either with blind hills and no sidewalks. Continue Reading →

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Local Views: Do Stillwater Police Turn a Deaf Ear to ‘Plainly Excessive’ Motorcycle Noise?

Is it just us, or do Stillwater police turn a deaf ear to the plainly excessive and highly irritating noise of motorcycles that negatively impact the quality of life for thousands of residents from May to October? We certainly got an earful on Friday May 1 when dozens of illegally loud bikes roared through and around town. Because it was so loud on Friday, members of our group met downtown on Saturday, the day after PD Pappy’s opened for the season. The photos show the first thing we encountered at about 2:15 pm. One shows three guys, presumably bikers, drinking adult beverages beyond the “No Beverages Beyond This Point” sign. Continue Reading →

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