Schools notebook // No DFL endorsement in District 6 race

The four candidates for the District 6 School Board seat may be headed for a primary election face-off in August after none of them was able to secure an endorsement at the May 19 Minneapolis DFL convention.

None of the District 6 candidates won the support of at least 60 percent of the delegates, the threshold for an endorsement, according to reports from the convention. District 6 includes most of Southwest south of Lake Street, except for the East Calhoun neighborhood.

Unless one or more of the candidates decides to drop out of the race, former district teacher Tracine Asberry, Washburn High School track coach Curtis Johnson, attorney Alex Phung and Lyndale Community School parent David Weingartner will all appear on the ballot for the Aug. 14 primary. Asberry was feeling some momentum coming out of the convention; a press release from her campaign noted she led on each of the five ballots for the District 6 race, despite never hitting 60 percent.

Other School Board candidates did win endorsement at the convention, including current Board Member Carla Bates, who is running for re-election to a second term. Only perennial School Board candidate Doug Mann has challenged Bates for the one open at-large seat on the board. It wasn’t certain if Mann intended to remain in the race for the primary; he didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the Monday after the convention. 

DFL delegates also endorsed Kim Ellison in District 2, which includes most of the North Side and the North Loop neighborhood. Ellison, who earlier this year was appointed to fill a School Board vacancy created by Lydia Lee’s departure, is running unopposed.

Darrell Washington won the DFL endorsement in District 4, which includes the Southwest neighborhoods north of Lake Street as well as East Calhoun and parts of Downtown. A Whittier International Elementary School parent and city employee, Washington faced retiring district teacher Sarah Miele and Josh Reimnitz, the young co-director of a youth nonprofit. 

Reimnitz said after the convention he planned to stay in the race and compete against Washington in the August primary. Miele didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

This is only the second School Board election with voters selecting candidates by district since voters approved an expansion of the School Board in 2008. Formerly, all School Board seats were at-large, but in 2010 voters in three districts on the east side of Minneapolis elected district representatives, and this year voters in Southwest and North neighborhoods will do the same.

St. Thomas honors superintendent

Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson was honored by her alma mater in May.

The University of St. Thomas presented Johnson with its Distinguished Alumna Award in a May 9 ceremony at its St. Paul campus. She earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at the university in 1993, and a year earlier was one of the first to complete its Collaborative Urban Educator, or CUE, program, an alternative licensing program focused on recruiting teachers from communities of color.

Johnson, a Selma, Ala., native, earned her undergraduate degree at Alabama A&M University, a historically black college in Huntsville, Ala., and afterward relocated to Minneapolis. She worked for 13 years for U.S. Bank before returning to school at St. Thomas.

Johnson started out as a classroom teacher in St. Paul, rose to an assistant principal position and eventually became principal of Elizabeth Hall Elementary in Minneapolis. In the mid-2000s, Johnson followed former Minneapolis Superintendent Carol Johnson to Tennessee, where she served as deputy superintendent of Memphis City Schools.

Back in Minneapolis, Johnson served as chief academic officer and deputy superintendent under her predecessor, Bill Green, and was named superintendent in 2010.

Johnson’s name will be engraved alongside those of St. Thomas’ past Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus on the wall of the university’s Anderson Student Center.

SpotLight on high school theater

Three Southwest-area high schools are up for awards at the Spring 2012 SpotLight Showcase, 7 p.m. June 11 at the Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Ave.

The Blake School (“Grease”), Southwest High School (“Hairspray”) and Washburn High School (“Fame”) were all participants in the 2011-2012 SpotLight Musical Theatre Program. A Hennepin Theatre Trust initiative since 2005, the program sends trained evaluators to high school musical productions and later highlights outstanding performances at its awards ceremony.

This year’s ceremony will include performances by students and Linda Eder, a SpotLight spokesperson who has performed on Broadway. Two students will be selected to represent Minnesota at the National High School Musical Theater Awards held June 25–26 in New York City.

Tickets are $15 and are available at the State Theatre box office, 805 Hennepin Ave. Tickets are also available by calling 1-800-982-2787 or online at hennepintheatretrust.org.