DFL candidates are top finishers in school board primary
Three DFL endorsees were the top vote-earners among nine candidates running for the Minneapolis School Board in the Sept. 9 primary election.
Incumbent Lydia Lee and newcomers Jill Davis and Carla Bates will advance to the Nov. 4 general election.
The other candidates to emerge from the primary were incumbent Sharon Henry-Blythe, GOP-endorsed candidate Kari Reed and Doug Mann, according to unofficial results reported by Hennepin County. With only six slots on the general election ballot, it appeared Allison Johnson, Mary Buss and Thomas Dicks were eliminated from the race.
The six candidates will vie for three open school board seats on Election Day. Board members are elected at-large and serve two-year terms.
Lee, a former middle school math teacher and current chair of the school board, earned 23.22 percent of the 65,733 votes cast in the school board race, according to the unofficial tally. Davis finished second with 20.34 percent of the vote and Bates was third with 17.57 percent of the vote.
Davis, a social services coordinator, and Bates, an information technology professional, are both parents of Minneapolis Public Schools students and serve on the District Parent Advisory Council, a group of parents who meet regularly with Superintendent Bill Green to discuss and advise on district policy.
The top three candidates finished well ahead of the other challengers, which may bode well for their chances on Election Day.
Henry-Blythe, a policy research director for a local nonprofit group, earned 10.43 percent of the vote. Reed, a home-schooling mother of five, and Mann, a licensed practical nurse, finished with 6.71 and 6.16 percent of the vote, respectively.
Report encourages biking and walking to school
In an effort to boost student fitness and reduce transportation costs, the city and Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) jointly released a report in September that aimed to encourage biking and walking to school.
Among other findings, the Minneapolis Safe Routes to Schools report highlighted evidence that biking or walking to school can increase student attendance and achievement. The report also attempted to dispel some safety concerns, Associate Superintendent Craig Vana said.
“It’s trying to … encourage families and the community to work together to make sure that the kids can ride their bikes, walk to school — things that are healthier — rather than just get on school buses,” Vana said.
As described in the report, Safe Routes to School is a national initiative that grew mainly out of concern over rising childhood obesity rates. But the benefits of biking and walking to school go beyond student fitness, the report argues.
Participating cities and school districts report Safe Routes to School efforts encourage safer communities, increase parent involvement in schools and reduce traffic congestion around school buildings.
The report outlined strategies to increase the number of students who bike or walk to school, including: improved walking paths; stricter enforcement of speed limits and crosswalk laws; and the creation of car-free zones around schools.
Another strategy was to install new bike racks at schools. When new bike racks were installed at South High School last year, the number of students biking to school rose to 150 from just 30, Vana said.
The entire report is available to read or download at: http://sss.mpls.k12.mn.us/steps.
Vana said more than 50 percent of MPS students walked or rode their bikes to school in 1969. Today, the rate is less than 20 percent.
“The whole idea is really to increase that and get it back to at least 50 percent,” he said.
ECFE winter enrollment to open
KENNY — Parents of young children can enroll in Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) winter classes online and by mail beginning Sept. 29.
ECFE classes are an opportunity to meet with other parents and gain parenting skills. The classes are open to all Minneapolis families with children from newborns up to kindergarten age.
The cost for ECFE classes is a sliding-scale fee based on household income. The program will not turn away parents based on inability to pay.
In Southwest, ECFE classes are offered at Kenny Community School, 5720 Emerson Ave. S. They are also offered at Kenny’s sister site, Hale Community School, 1220 E. 54th St., and at several other school locations across the city.
Both Kenny and Hale still had room in fall session ECFE classes as of early September.
For more information on classes and locations, or to register for winter classes, visit the ECFE website (http://ecfe.mpls.k12.mn.us/) or call 668-3927.
Online and mail-in registration for winter classes runs Sept. 29–Oct. 31. Late-registration requests for winter classes are taken over the phone until Nov. 10.