Schools Notebook: Board welcomes student representative

Also: A consultant is hired for superintendent search and Viva City returns

Noah Branch leaned into the mic at his first School Board meeting Feb. 10. Credit: Dylan Thomas

A Patrick Henry High School sophomore is the first-ever student representative to the Minneapolis School Board.

Noah Branch won’t have a vote on the board, but he will sit alongside elected School Board members at meetings and is expected to provide a student’s perspective on district policy issues. The 16-year-old will receive a $5,000 scholarship when he completes his term Dec. 31.

Branch’s peers serving in Citywide Student Government recommended him for the position. Late last year, the School Board approved a policy change allowing them to appoint a junior or sophomore in student government to the board.

Branch joined the board Feb. 10 after a vote to approve his appointment.

As she welcomed him, Board Member Tracine Asberry urged Branch to “make sure you always have the student voice.”

“Being in this type of environment can make you think outside of the student perspective, and I think you need to challenge us,” Asberry said.

Branch thanked the other members of the Patrick Henry student council and his family, who watched his first meeting from seats in the audience.

“I really look forward to this next year and being the connection between students and the district,” Branch said. “It’s really exciting to me.”

His first meeting was a long one, running nearly three hours before Board Chair Jenny Arneson entertained a motion to adjourn. Unlike his fellow board members, Branch is subject to the Minneapolis curfew ordinance, which means he can’t be out alone past 11 p.m. on a school night.


Consultant to lead superintendent search

The School Board plans to hire a consultant to conduct the district’s search for a new permanent superintendent.

Earlier this year, a board subcommittee explored the possibility of conducting the search internally using the district’s human resources staff, but it ultimately recommended having an outside group run the process. The full board approved the plan Feb. 10, but had not at that time selected a search firm to work with.

“We discussed that we are lacking some internal capacity in which to do that (search),” Board Chair Jenny Arneson said. “In fact, it might involve hiring another person if we needed to do that, so actually this might be the cheaper option and much more comprehensive. … It helps us get started right away and helps us to the community engagement that we all want to see.”

The School Board recently appointed district CEO Michael Goar to serve as interim superintendent following the resignation in December of former Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson. Johnson’s last day was Jan. 31, but she’ll consult with Goar through the end of the school year.

Goar, a Washburn High School graduate who worked as a school district administrator here, in Boston and in Memphis, has expressed interest in taking over the superintendent role permanently.


Viva City returns for 21st year

Minneapolis Public Schools’ annual student art extravaganza turns 21 this year.

The Viva City Fine Arts Festival kicked-off in December with an exhibition of visual art by Minneapolis elementary students at the John B. Davis Gallery inside district headquarters. That show ended in January, but another exhibition featuring work by middle school students is on display in the gallery — located just outside the assembly room where the School Board meets — through March 23.

Visual art by district high school students is showing now through March 23 in the Cargill Gallery at Hennepin County Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall. Student dancers and actors take part in a performing arts showcase 7 p.m.–9 p.m. March 4 at Folwell Middle School, 3611 20th Ave. S.