Schools notebook // DFL endorsements

DFL endorses candidates for School Board

The Minneapolis DFL endorsed four candidates for five open seats on the School Board at their May 22 city convention.

The convention delegates endorsed Richard Mammen to fill one of two open at-large seats on the board. None of the nine other at-large candidates won enough of the vote to win endorsement, including incumbent T. Williams.

Delegates also endorsed one candidate each for Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board districts 1, 3 and 5, all located on the eastern half of the city. This fall marks the first time School Board members will be elected by district after Minneapolis voters approved an expansion of the board during the last city elections.

Currently a seven-member board with all members serving at-large, the board this fall begins an expansion to a nine-member board with three members serving at-large and six elected by Park Board district. The transition process adds one additional School Board seat in each election, bringing the total number of members to eight in 2010 and nine in 2012.

Convention delegates endorsed Jenny Arneson over Marcia Thomas in Park Board District 1. Hussein Samatar in District 3 and Alberto Monserrate in District 5 are running unopposed and both won endorsements.

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Lehmann Center for sale

THE WEDGE — Minneapolis Public Schools is moving ahead with the sale of the Lehmann Center, 1006 W. Lake St., as part of its plan to rid the district of excess administrative space.

District Communications Director Stan Alleyne confirmed the sprawling Uptown landmark was listed for sale, but with no price specified. District programs still housed in the building began moving out in May.

If sold, a portion of the proceeds could go toward the cost of constructing a new district headquarters. The School Board in April approved a plan to build a new headquarters on district-owned property at
1250 W. Broadway Ave., replacing its current main office building at 807 Broadway St. NE, a former light bulb factory suffering from long-deferred maintenance.

District officials plan to consolidate their administrative offices, currently housed in four buildings spread across the district, including the Lehmann Center. Spending on excess office space costs runs to $1 million annually, the district estimates.

Minneapolis Community Education and other administrative offices still housed in the Lehmann Center began to move May 10 to a district building at 2225 E. Lake St. Several education programs and the district’s General Education Development, or GED, testing center housed in the building also began the move.

Success Academy, a district alternative school, and Phoenix High School, a contract alternative school, were to continue holding classes in Lehmann Center until the end of the school year.

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New Principals’ Academy members named

Minneapolis Public Schools announced a 19-member class for its 2010–2011 Minneapolis Principals’ Academy in May.

The Principals’ Academy is an intensive, one-year professional development program for aspiring school leaders. Past graduates of the program include Kenny Community School Principal Bill Gibbs.

New Principals’ Academy participants with ties to Southwest-area schools included: Jay Alexander, assistant principal at Lake Harriet Community School–Upper Campus; Anne DePerry, a content focus literacy coach at Whittier International Elementary School; Jennifer Hedberg, a teacher on special assignment at Lyndale Community School; and Merry Tilleson, assistant principal at Ramsey International Fine Arts Center.

Twelve members of the 2009–2010 Minneapolis Principals’ Academy were set to graduate in May, including Windom Spanish Dual Immersion and Open School Principal Lucilla Yira and VaNita Miller, recently named principal of the new Spanish dual-immersion and International Baccalaureate program planned to open next year at the Anwatin Middle School site.

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Changing School Options impact lower than estimated

About 11 percent of Minneapolis Public Schools students were expected to change schools next fall under a district restructuring plan known as Changing School Options, district staff leading implementation of that plan told the School Board in May.

Courtney Cushing Kiernat said, originally, about 19 percent of students were predicted to switch schools in fall 2010, but the impact was lessened by modifications made to the plan after the School Board approved it in September.

About 1,200 high school students who lost district busing to their current schools may still attend those schools by using public transportation. The district plans to distribute MetroTransit Go-To Cards to students now living outside their schools’ transportation zones.

Kiernat said a plan to keep most English Language Learner students in their current schools and steps to transfer some of the closing Emerson Spanish Immersion Learning Center program to Anwatin Middle School also limited the impact of Changing School Options.

Of the 11 percent of students losing district busing to their current schools in fall 2010, just more than half are expected to stay in their current schools. Parents of those students will have to arrange their own transportation.