Schools Notebook // New district headquarters

District considering new headquarters

Minneapolis Public Schools staff unveiled alist of eight potential options for a new headquarters at the Dec. 1 School Board meeting.

Those options included renovating the current main administrative building at 807 Broadway Ave. NE, a former light bulb factory considered inefficient and costly to operate. Chief of Operations Steve Liss told board members that the building, in its current state, “leaks money.”

Liss said the district aimed to cut costs and increase efficiency and productivity by centralizing administrative offices now spread out among four buildings located in North, Northeast and Southwest.

The district currently has 633,000 square feet of administrative space, but requires less than half of that. It spends more than $1 million annually to maintain the excess space, Liss said.

The district recently downsized by closing several schools and cutting programs to better manage shrinking enrollment and ongoing budget deficits. That could make a new headquarters a hard sell to the public, especially after voters in 2008 approved a $60 million district property tax levy, School Board Member Jill Davis said.

Both Davis and Board Member Pam Costain urged district staff to select a “cost-neutral” headquarters plan.

Liss said a new headquarters likely would cost as much or less than doing nothing. Remaining at 807 Broadway would require the district to tackle overdue maintenance projects, including replacing the roof and windows, he added.

Figured in 2009 dollars, spending on the current administrative buildings was expected to reach about $90 million over 30 years. Over the same time period, the new headquarters proposals were expected to cost between $75 and $100 million, a figure Liss expected could be reduced.

The sites under consideration are:

• 807 Broadway Ave. NE (current location)

• 1001 Glenwood Ave. N

• 111 Washington Ave. S

• A dual campus at 1250 W. Broadway and 2225 E. Lake St.

• 1010 Metrodome Square

• The Valspar Building at the intersection of 11th Avenue and 3rd Street

• The Ford Center at 412 N. 5th ST.

• New construction at the intersection of Penn and Plymouth Avenues

Liss said he would return to the board in late January or early February with a whittled-down list of potential sites.

Sign up for STEP-UP jobs now

Students looking for work next summer have until Jan. 29 to submit an application to the STEP-UP Summer Jobs Program.

The program for Minneapolis residents aged 14–21 places youth in paid internships at local employers. Younger applicants are matched with local nonprofits, while applicants aged 16 and older are placed in jobs in private business, government and education.

Applications are available in the AchieveMpls College and Career Centers in Minneapolis high schools, the North and South Workforce Centers and the Minneapolis Central Library. Applications also may be downloaded from the AchieveMpls website, achievempls.org.

Ski team sportsmanship in national spotlight

The inspiring story of good sportsmanship that last winter saved the season of Southwest High School cross-country skier Libby Ellis will be retold on a national stage this month.

Ellis was ranked second in the state prior to last February’s sectional tournament, but needed to compete in one more race to qualify for competition. She had missed some previous races in part due to her participation in non-school ski events, and was racing in Norway when her coaches realized her dilemma.

The South High School team agreed to an impromptu ski meet at Theodore Wirth Park, where Ellis headed almost immediately after getting off her flight. The race began at 10:30 p.m. the night before the sectional tournament — where Ellis went on to win and qualify for state.

The act of cooperation earned the South High School Nordic ski team a 2009 AT&T National Sportsmanship Award. The awards ceremony took place Nov. 21 in St. Louis, but will be rebroadcast on the CBS College Sports Network five times in December.

Go to cbscollegesports.com for show times.