Schools notebook // Two more enter School Board race

Two more enter School Board race

The latest entrants in the race to represent Southwest on the Minneapolis School Board are a Lyndale Community School parent and former district teacher with children at Barton Open School and Washburn High School.

Both the Lyndale parent, David Weingartner, and the former teacher, Tracine Asberry, plan to seek the District 6 seat, which includes most of Southwest south of Lake Street.

Weingartner, an East Harriet resident and father of two children, is a financial advisor with RBC Wealth Management in Edina. This is his first run for public office.

Weingartner became involved in district policy matters during the development of Changing School Options, or CSO, a controversial restructuring plan approved by the School Board in September 2009. His was among a handful of Kingfield and East Harriet families that opted-in to Lyndale early, before the approval of CSO made Lyndale the community school for those neighborhoods.

More recently, Weingartner was one of two Lyndale parents who served on a team that selected Bancroft Elementary School Principal Paul Marietta to lead the new Ramsey Middle School opening for the 2012–2013 school year.

“This has been a long journey for us,” Weingartner said. “It started with CSO and it evolved into seeing some of the great things we do as a district but also seeing some of the inequities we have in our system.

“I believe I can translate that experience into … creating a highly effective district with high-performing schools.”

He emphasized the need for effective principal leadership guided by data and assessments and strong teaching supported by focused professional development. He described a system in which “parents, students and teachers are working together to create an effective learning plan.”

Asberry is a mother of three who has recently worked as a community faculty member at Metropolitan State University and program administrator with the African American Academy for Accelerated Learning. She lives in Kingfield.

Asberry joined the faculty of W. Harry Davis Academy in North Minneapolis in 1998 and taught middle school language arts until the school was closed in 2007. That same year, the Bush Foundation named her a Bush Leadership Fellow.

Asberry said she was “committed to having all students and families involved and achieving at high rates.”

Asked about her priorities, Asberry first mentioned boosting family involvement. She also would work to close the achievement gap by addressing the “opportunity gap,” or disparities in access to the arts and extracurricular activities she said contribute to disparities in academic outcomes.

“We call them extracurricular activities, but it’s really looking at the whole child,” she said.

Asberry added that middle school and high school health courses should include information on abstinence in their sexual health curricula alongside information on contraceptives.

“There needs to be quality information so students can make informed decisions,” she said, adding that she would not support an abstinence-only curriculum.

Both Asberry and Weingartner plan to seek the DFL endorsement. That will pit them against Alex Phung, a 28-year-old Fulton resident and Cargill attorney who announced his intention to seek the District 6 seat earlier this year.

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General Mills donation supports fitness

The General Mills Foundation made a donation in March to support a physical fitness program in Minneapolis Public Schools, the district reported.

The foundation’s $12,000 donation to AchieveMpls, the district’s nonprofit fundraising partner, will support the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award Challenge. The challenge is an annual, six-week fitness program for students in grades 2–8.

To meet the challenge, students commit to engage in physical activity for at least one hour a day, five days a week. Students also set weekly healthy eating goals during the challenge.

Students who participate in the challenge get a certificate and a badge and can earn their schools new physical education equipment.

The General Mills Foundation brought Crunch, the Minnesota Timberwolves mascot, to a March 6 assembly at Nellie Stone Johnson Elementary School that officially launched this year’s challenge. Since first partnering with Minneapolis Public Schools in 2000, the foundation has contributed nearly $450,000 to support the challenge, the district reported.

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Area C parents meet March 22

Minneapolis Public Schools Chief Academic Officer Emily Puetz is the scheduled speaker for the March Area C Parent Advisory Council meeting.

Puetz is scheduled to speak on “rigorous academics for all students” at the meeting, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m. March 22 at Jefferson Community School, 1200 W. 26th St. There will be childcare for children 3 years old or older, as well as Somali and Spanish interpreters.

Area C, also known as Zone 3, includes most Southwest-area public schools.