Schools notebook // Bates re-elected to School Board; hand count in District 4

The School Board’s most veteran member, Carla Bates, handily won re-election to a second term, taking almost three-quarters of the unofficial vote total in the citywide race on Election Day.

Due to technical printing errors affecting ballots in another School Board race, it wasn’t clear as this edition of the Southwest Journal went to press just who would be joining her and two unopposed candidates, Tracine Asberry and Kim Ellison, on the board in January. An ongoing hand count of the affected ballots left a neck-and-neck race between Patty Wycoff and Josh Reimnitz for the District 4 seat up in the air as of the morning of Nov. 7.

City and county election officials planned to count by hand ballots cast in three precincts: 10-1 and 10-2, which together comprise the entire Wedge neighborhood, and 10-8, the southwest quarter of Whittier. All three precincts are located in the School Board’s District 4, where Josh Reimnitz held a narrow lead of 10,409 votes (50.97 percent) to Patty Wycoff’s 9,836 votes (48.16 percent) the morning after Election Day.

The ballot errors meant there remained uncounted votes in the citywide race between Bates and challenger Doug Mann, but the results could not reverse the lopsided outcome that had Bates winning 87,661 votes (72.92 percent) to Mann’s 30,568 votes (25.43 percent).

Asberry and Ellison, unopposed in Southwest’s District 6 and the North Side’s District 2, respectively, each took more than 97 percent of the vote in the unofficial tally.

For updated School Board election results, go to southwestjournal.com.

Schools and parks form athletics commission

Closer ties between Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board could benefit the separate youth athletics programs operated by each organization and the city’s young athletes.

That’s the idea behind the Joint Youth Athletic Commission that met for the first time Oct. 29. The two organizations already collaborate — sharing Washburn High School’s new football field, for instance — but School Board Member Richard Mammen, who has a seat on the commission, said there remained room for improvement.

“Our main thrust is to improve the quality of programming and opportunities, as well as facilities, but there is also an underlying belief that we can do this more economically and smarter,” Mammen said.

He suggested the collaboration could help the city retain its best youth athletes, who are sometimes lured away by the sports programs at suburban schools, by building stronger relationships and pathways between parks teams and high school athletics programs.

“I always use the example [of] my son who went to a soccer camp many years ago that was run by the South High soccer team,” Mammen said. “… He’s always had a relationship with South High based on that.”

Other parks teams already have strong connections with high schools. Mammen gave as an example Pearl Park’s youth football team, which is a feeder for Washburn High School, and the Armatage Park youth athletes who go on to Southwest High School.

The committee could also improve communication between the Park Board and school district, who sometimes squabble over the use of fields and gymnasiums and the costs associated with maintaining those spaces, he added.

“Sometimes there’s a collision in terms of supply and demand,” Mammen, a former Park Board employee, said. “If you’re a baseball coach, who do you call in order to get a field for practice?”

Parks Superintendent Jayne Miller said the committee planned to first develop recommendations for spring and summer sports — including baseball, softball and track — and implement changes in the spring. The committee will then shift its focus to fall sports.

“The main objective is to make sure we’re providing a strong youth sports program for kids in Minneapolis all the time from when they’re young to when they graduate high school,” Miller said.

Schools name new chief information officer

Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson in October selected veteran consultant and educator Don Hall to be the district’s new chief information officer.

Hall served in that same position for the Muscogee County, Ga., and Kent, Wash., school districts. He has experience as a K–12 teacher and administrator and served in leadership roles with General Electric Corporation and the Kentucky Department of Education, the district reported.

The school district’s former chief information officer, David Mayor, died suddenly in August at age 51, after just eight months on the job. 

Reach Dylan Thomas at dthomas@mnpubs.com.