Schools notebook // Go-To cards

Go-To cards go to high school students

Minneapolis Public Schools purchased 1,280 Go-To Card transit passes to distribute to high school students who lost district-provided transportation this fall, Metro Transit spokesman Bob Gibbons said
in August.

“Our enemy is the single-occupant car, and we appreciate the opportunity to capture these young people when they’re in high school because then we have the potential of having them be lifelong riders,” Gibbons said.

He said the cards cost $172 per semester, putting the cost to the district at about $220,000. The district’s total spending on transportation topped $28 million in the 2009–2010 school year.

The Changing School Options cost-saving plan the School Board approved last September closed several schools and redrew bus transportation boundaries. High school students living outside the new transportation zones of their schools were given the option to continue attending, but without the option of a district bus.

Gibbons said Metro Transit was preparing to add buses to existing routes based on where the high school students live and when they are expected to ride buses to and from school. Additional route 18 and 46 buses will serve Washburn High School in the morning and afternoon, for example.

“These are regular route buses; they are not school buses,” he said. “The kids come to the established bus stop. Anybody else in the free world can ride the bus. It’s open-door.”

Several hundred district students received Go-To Cards during the last two summers for transportation by city bus to summer programs. So far, there have been “zero behavioral incidents” tied to students with district-provided transit passes, Gibbons said.

“We believe that initial, smaller experience can translate into this larger experiment,” he added.

The Go-To Cards work for all rides, not just trips to and from school, so students may use them for transportation on weekends or to after-school jobs and activities.

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Noor endorses Williams for School Board

Mohamud Noor, the fifth-place finisher in the at-large School Board primary, in August endorsed incumbent T. Williams, who with a fourth-place finish advanced to the Nov. 2 general election.

Noor announced plans to join Williams’ campaign team, citing the incumbent’s “experience and knowledge to forge a common vision that will move our schools and our community forward” in a statement released Aug. 23. Williams is the only current School Board member running for re-election.

Williams earned 12.49 percent of the citywide vote to Noor’s 10.63 percent. With only two at-large seats open, Williams’ vote total put him behind Chanda Smith Baker (14.17 percent), Rebecca Gagnon (14.43 percent) and DFL-endorsed candidate Richard Mammen (21.69 percent).

“It’s an endorsement I sought because I thought it was important,” Williams said, noting Noor did “exceptionally well” in parts of Ward 6, where Williams did not.

Williams praised Noor’s campaign, adding that as a father of two young children, Noor was invested in the district. A Somali immigrant, Noor also may strengthen support for Williams in the local Somali community.

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Mayflower opens full-day Montessori program

TANGLETOWN — Mayflower Early Childhood Center opened a new, full-day Montessori preschool program in September.

The center, formerly known as Mayflower Preschool, will offer the full-day Montessori program five days a week. The staff includes three Montessori-trained teachers, said preschool Director Margaret Shreves.

“I would describe it really as a world-class early childhood program,” Shreves said. “We’re really proud of it.”

Founded 50 years ago as an outreach program of Mayflower Church, the center became an independent, 501(c)3 nonprofit earlier this year. It continues to operate out of the same building as the church, located at 106 E. Diamond Lake Road.

The center also includes four part-time preschool classrooms open three days a week.

Shreves said grants from Mayflower Church, Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches and Sheltering Arms Foundation funded start-up costs for the new Montessori program. The program was expected to serve families living in Creekside Commons, a nearby affordable-housing development recently opened by Mayflower Church, but was also open to the public.

For more information go to mayflowerchildren.org or call 825-5914.

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New principals at Southwest schools

Two Minneapolis Public School sites in Southwest were set to begin the school year under new leadership.

Jefferson Community School Principal Bridget Hall replaced Ray Aponte, who will take over principal duties at Northrop Urban Environmental Learning Center.

Anwatin Middle School Principal VaNita Miller replaced Albert Pitt, now the principal at Sheridan Global Arts and Communications School.