Schools notebook

Minnesota Reading and Math corps seeking volunteers

The Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps launched their largest-ever recruitment campaign in February.

The two AmeriCorps programs together aimed to recruit more than 900 adult math and reading tutors to work in schools across the state in the 2011–2012 school year. Reading tutors work with students in pre-kindergarten through third grade to improve literacy skills, while math tutors supplement classroom instruction for students in the fourth through eighth grades.

Minnesota Reading Corps’ goal was to recruit 800 tutors for next school year, up from 670 tutors this year. Sites in Southwest where reading tutors will be placed next fall include Bryn Mawr, Jefferson and Lyndale community schools, Whittier International Elementary School and Ramsey International Fine Arts Center.

Minnesota Math Corps’ goal was to recruit 100 tutors for next school year, doubling the 50 tutors placed in schools this year.

Members receive a bi-weekly stipend and some benefits. After a full year of service, tutors receive an education award ($5,550 for full-time members or $2,775 for part-time members) that can be used for education expenses or to pay back federal student loans. Members 55 years old or older may transfer the education benefit to a child or grandchild.

For more information, or to apply for a position with either program, visit their websites at minnesotareadingcorps.org or minnesotamathcorps.org.

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2011–2012 calendar approved despite overlap with Eid

The School Board approved the 2011–2012 school year calendar Feb. 22 despite objections from some members who noted the Aug. 29 start date overlapped with Eid, an Islamic holiday.

The three-day holiday Eid al-Fitr, often abbreviated to Eid, marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month observed with daily fasts. Like the Christian holiday of Easter, it moves around the calendar from year-to-year.

Board Member Hussein Samatar said the district would miss out on a chance to prove its cultural competency by not pushing back the first day of school one week to Sept. 6.

“We will be missing a lot of children,” Samatar added, suggesting many Muslim students would take excused absences during the first few days of school.

School Board members Rebecca Gagnon and Richard Mammen joined Samatar in voting against approval of the calendar. The other five board members voted in favor.

Next fall will mark the third year in a row Minneapolis students return to school before Labor Day, the traditional end of summer vacation. Associate Superintendent Theresa Battle said the early start date was needed to prepare students for high-stakes testing in the fall.

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Lake Harriet has Teacher of the Year semifinalist

LINDEN HILLS — Barb Boerboon, a third-grade teacher at Lake Harriet Community School’s Upper Campus, was named a 2011 Minnesota Teacher of the Year semifinalist in February.

Boerboon was one of 30 semifinalists selected from a field of 108 Teacher of the Year candidates. A group of 23 community leaders selected the semifinalists at a meeting in St. Paul, and they will meet again this month to choose the 10 finalists in this year’s competition.

The winner will be announced May 1 during a banquet at
The Northland Inn hotel in Brooklyn Park.

The annual Teacher of the Year competition is organized and underwritten by Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers’ union. Amber Damm, a Clara Barton Open School teacher, was Minnesota Teacher of the Year in 2009.

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Have soup with the ‘supe’

Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson will hold her second “Soup with the Supe” event March 10 in Area C, the Minneapolis Public Schools region that includes most of Southwest, as well as some South neighborhoods.

Free food and childcare for children three years old and older will be available at the event, scheduled for 6 p.m.–8 p.m. at Burroughs Community School, 1601 W. 50th St. Spanish-, Somali- and Hmong-language interpretation services will be available.

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Board approves pool renovation

LINDEN HILLS — A nearly $1.3 million contract to renovate the Southwest High School swimming pool was approved Feb. 22 by the School Board.

CM Construction Company will replace or repair the six-lane pool’s plumbing, chemical injection and electrical systems, renovate and increase the size of a spectator seating area and replace a lap-timing system, said Mark Bollinger, executive director of facilities for Minneapolis Public Schools.

Bollinger said the deferred maintenance project aimed to reverse significant deterioration of the pool’s multiple systems. Installed in 1968, the pools had not undergone “any renovations to it since that time,” he added.

Bollinger expected work on the pool to begin sometime in June and be completed before the start of the next swimming season.