School Board welcomes new members

New Minneapolis School Board member Kimberly Caprini takes the oath of office on Tuesday, with her family by her side. Photo by Nate Gotlieb

The Minneapolis Board of Education paid tribute to its two outgoing members and welcomed two new members during its meeting on Tuesday.

New at-large members Kimberly Caprini and Josh Pauly joined the nine-member board, which governs the approximately 36,000-student district. Meanwhile, the board recognized outgoing members Rebecca Gagnon and Don Samuels for their years of service.

Board members Jenny Arneson, Siad Ali and Nelson Inz also took the oath of office, after each was re-elected for a new term this past November.

Samuels, who served one term, said he came on the School Board because of inequities that persist and that he feels the needle has hardly budged as he leaves the board. “This is a sad situation, and we must be motivated by it,” he said.

Gagnon, who served two terms, said funds from the district’s newly passed $30 million referendum should stay in schools. She added that she hopes the board is able to follow through on those commitments.

Pauly, a former Minneapolis Public Schools teacher, said the board has a lot of work ahead of it and he’s excited to do his part. Caprini, a longtime active parent, said she wants to inspire her colleagues to see MPS as a district of schools rather than schools within a district. She said she hopes the board is willing to make tough decisions that best fit the needs of all students but especially students who need the most support.

One of the new board’s first acts on Tuesday was electing a new slate of leaders. The board re-elected Inz as chair, Arneson as treasurer and Ellison as clerk while electing Caprini as vice chair. The slate was approved on a voice vote, with one board member, KerryJo Felder, abstaining.

The board also approved a resolution directing the superintendent to begin negotiating a new contract with the Minneapolis Police Department by June 30. The contract would begin in August 2020, after the district’s current three-year contract with MPD expires.

MPS contracts with the police department for the services of 14 school resource officers, who help with security, safety and student engagement at schools throughout the district. The board voted 7-1 in favor of the resolution, with Caprini abstaining and Felder voting against it.

Caprini said she felt like she needed more information before voting on the resolution. Felder said she doesn’t think the district is “doing the deeper work that needs to happen,” and said she was voting no in the hopes of forcing the district to do that work.

The board on Tuesday also approved 2017-19 contract agreements with its principals and adult-education teachers unions, whose previous contracts expired in June 2017. The district has now come to 2017-19 contract agreements with all of its unions except for its custodial and food service units, according to a spokesman. Negotiations on the next teachers union contract are set to begin in the coming weeks.