Schools notebook // Primary narrows field in School Board races

Carla Bates will face Doug Mann in her bid for re-election to an at-large School Board seat after the Aug. 14 primary eliminated two candidates from that race.

Bryn Mawr neighborhood leader Patty Wycoff and nonprofit director Josh Reimnitz will move onto the general election, as well. The two are seeking the District 4 seat in this year’s only other contested School Board election.

Just 16,192 votes were cast in the at-large race, and Bates took 9,034 of them, earning almost 56 percent of the vote. Mann, a registered nurse making his seventh run at a School Board seat, came in with about 18 percent, edging Janice Mae Harmon (15 percent) and Willis G. Trueblood (11 percent).

The Minnesota Secretary of State’s office reported there were 221,553 registered voters as of 7 a.m. Tuesday, but turnout appeared light at polling places.

In District 4 — which includes Southwest north of Lake Street, as well as the ECCO neighborhood and parts of downtown — there were just 2,775 votes cast in the three-way School Board race. The 1,674 votes for Wycoff gave her a commanding 60 percent of the total, but nearly one-third of voters (28 percent) picked Reimnitz.

William Lange, a recent Concordia University graduate, came in third (12 percent) in District 4 and won’t move on to Election Day.

There are two other open School Board seats this year, but only one candidate in each of the races: Tracine Asberry in Southwest’s District 4 and Kim Ellison in the North Side’s District 2.

Gagnon appointed to national assessment board

School Board Member Rebecca Gagnon will serve on the board that oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the annual report on U.S. student achievement better known as “The Nation’s Report Card.”

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appointed Gagnon to the National Assessment Governing Board, a 26-member body made up of elected and appointed officials from across the country. Her four-year term begins Oct. 1.

The NAEP doesn’t report on the performance of individual schools, but instead tracks national achievement levels in different academic areas, including math, science, history, reading and other subjects. The results allow for state-to-state comparisons, and can also be used to study how the achievement of specific groups, such as eighth-graders, changes over time. 

The first NAEP tests were conducted in 1969. The National Assessment Governing Board was established in 1988, and it selects which subjects students will be assessed in from year-to-year.

District headquarters project exceeds diversity goals

Minneapolis Public Schools exceeded its goals for the participation of a diverse workforce in the construction of its new headquarters, the district reported in August.

One in 10 members of the workforce that built the new John B. Davis Education and Service Center were women, doubling the district’s goal to include at least 5 percent female workers. The district aimed for a 25-percent minority workforce and hit 27 percent for the project.

About 759 workers total participated in the construction project.

The team of Mortenson Construction and THOR Construction also reported that 51 percent of contracts on the project were awarded to women- or minority-run businesses.

The $36-million district headquarters at 1250 W. Broadway Ave. opened to the public in August. In addition to housing district administrative offices, the building will host Adult Basic Education classes, a new welcome center for district families, a testing center and other services.

A new club sport: Mountain biking

Washburn High School’s newest club team is recruiting members for the inaugural season of mountain bike racing in the Minnesota High School Cycling League.

The high school sport’s debut in Minnesota comes about a decade after the first leagues formed in California. The Washburn team plans to compete in the league’s first official mountain bike race, scheduled for Sept. 9 at the Salem Hills Mountain Bike Trails in Inver Grove Heights. The season runs through Oct. 28.

Parent volunteer Phil Bode, who is also one of three coaches for the team, said about a dozen cyclists were signed up for the team as of late August. There’s room on the roster for 20 racers, and the addition of a fourth coach would allow even more racers to join, Bode said.

He said riders of all abilities are welcome to join. The composite team also includes students from Southwest High School, The Academy of Holy Angels and DeLaSalle High School.

To read more about the Washburn team, or for information on joining, go to