Schools Notebook // Kim Ellison to fill board vacancy

The School Board on Dec. 20 appointed Kim Ellison to fill the seat being vacated by long-serving Board Member Lydia Lee.

Ellison, an executive assistant at Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties since 2008, will be sworn into office Jan. 10. She is the former wife of Representative Keith Ellison (DFL–5th District).

Ellison’s current employer is an agency that works with low-income families to reduce poverty, and she works closely with both the agency’s board and executive director. She was previously employed as a high school teacher at Guadalupe Alternative Programs, a St. Paul-based community education and social services agency, from 1999–2008, and taught high school math at The City Inc., a Minneapolis alternative school, from 1996–1999.

Lee is a former middle school math teacher who began serving on the School Board in 2005 and was its longest serving member. She officially leaves the School Board Jan. 1, and is relocating to California later this winter for what she has said are “family commitments.”

At her last board meeting, Lee was honored by fellow board members.

“Lydia Lee has inspired many of us,” Board Chair Jill Davis said. “She is honest, she has integrity, she has kept her eye on the ball in terms of what we do for kids, in terms of education, and she loves math.”

Lee also announced plans to start a scholarship fund for mathematically gifted high school seniors.

District hires new chief financial officer

Minneapolis Public Schools’ new chief financial officer, Robert Doty, officially joined the district Dec. 20.

Doty most recently was a partner with DFA Financial Services, a St. Paul-based accounting firm serving small- and medium-sized construction, waste management and manufacturing businesses. He joined DFA as a consultant in 2000 and was named partner in 2010.

In a statement released by the district, Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said Doty was “a well-respected senior-level executive who brings extensive finance, administration and public accounting experience” to the district.

“His proven ability to improve operations, his strong qualifications in general management and business planning and his leadership skills will be crucial to our efforts to create sustainable finances as outlined in our strategic plan,” Johnson said in the statement.

Doty previously served as vice president and comptroller of Dunwoody College of Technology beginning in 1997, and in 2002 he became the college’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, a position he retained until 2010. Doty’s career began at Ernst & Young, a firm he joined in 1985; he has also worked at Burlington Northern Railroad, St. Paul Travelers Insurance Co. and Independent Television Service, a media company that produces dramas and documentaries for PBS.

The district had been without a permanent chief financial officer since the start of the school year, when Peggy Ingison left to take a similar position with the Minnesota Historical society. Ingison joined the district after a three-decade tour in state government, where she served as state finance commissioner under Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Target donates books to kindergarteners

For the second year in a row, Target distributed thousands of books in Minneapolis Public Schools kindergarten classrooms in December.

Every district kindergartener received two books and a Target book bag Dec. 19, with the goal of encouraging the students to continue reading and learning over winter break. This year, break begins Dec. 26 and students return to classes Jan. 9.

Target also distributed books to St. Paul kindergarteners, handing out about 6,400 books in all, the retailer reported. Target partnered with First Book, a national literacy nonprofit, to select the books and consulted with both districts to ensure the books aligned with kindergarten reading lessons.

Blake service learning director honored

LOWRY HILL — Nan Peterson, service learning director at The Blake School, was recognized in December with a national service learning award.

The National Youth Leadership Council Service-Learning Practitioner Leadership Award went to Peterson in recognition of her 30 years of work at Blake, where she develops opportunities for students to learn through community projects both locally and abroad. In 2010, Peterson led service-learning trips to both Kenya and Japan and was honored with the Minnesota Service Learning Teacher of the Year Award.

Peterson will receive the award from the National Youth Leadership Council when the group holds its annual conference April 11–14 in Minneapolis. The conference is a professional development opportunity for service-learning professionals, as well as a gathering for youth involved in service learning known as the PeaceJam Leadership Conference, and is expected to draw more than 2,000 attendees.

Reach Dylan Thomas at [email protected]