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The Duluth School Board will vote next week to refinance more Red Plan debt. The move, recommended by financial advisers, is expected to reduce taxpayer burden by nearly $900,000 over the next nine years. Two bonds — of the four that paid for the $315 million Red Plan, or long-range facilities plan — will be refinanced. Depending on the market, one could reap about $834,000 in savings and the other $43,000. The tax bill on a $150,000 home won't show much of a difference, though, at less than $2 a year.
Lock the door, turn out the lights and huddle under a desk. Since the mass school shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, that method of guarding against an armed intruder has been commonplace in the nation's schools. But in the wake of more recent deadly school shootings — most visibly the one that took 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida — the majority of Twin Ports schools are adding security features and changing the way they prepare for that nightmare scenario.
The Duluth school district is being sued by former Duluth School Board member Art Johnston for not responding to his requests for public data. The civil lawsuit was filed in 6th Judicial District court in August, and asks the court to declare the district's actions "unlawful and willful." It also requests the queried records be made available, and to award Johnston damages, along with his costs related to the lawsuit.
The Duluth school district's state math and reading scores show slight improvement overall, but several student groups continue to fall dramatically short of proficiency goals. Math and reading scores remain above the state average, with 60 percent proficient in math and 64 percent in reading. The state's reading scores didn't change, but math scores dropped slightly.
Lake Superior College president Patrick Johns will retire in June, the college announced Wednesday. Johns has led the 10,000-plus student two-year college since 2010, but will leave after 42 years working in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. A Duluth native with deep Northland roots — his great-grandfather was one of the original settlers of Isle Royale — Johns graduated from Duluth Cathedral and the University of Minnesota Duluth in the 1970s, and began work at Mesabi Community College in 1977.
The results of a single test are no longer the main way to judge academic performance under Minnesota's new education accountability plan rolled out this week. Under the new plan, attendance joins graduation rates and academic growth as a measure for success. With this week's data release, the Minnesota Department of Education's emphasis is not on scores but on the larger number of schools that will receive extra support under its North Star accountability plan.
A Grand Rapids man accused of sexually assaulting his young nieces two decades ago pleaded guilty Tuesday in State District Court in Itasca County. Donald Jamsa, 81, was charged in March with three counts of felony criminal sexual conducted related to the allegations of Katye Stolp and Kendra Alfords. The News Tribune typically does not identify victims of sexual assault, but in this case both agreed to be named.
The man accused in the 2014 stabbing death of a Proctor woman at a Duluth grocery store has been found not guilty because of mental illness. Jesse Dahlstrom will remain committed indefinitely to the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter following Sixth Judicial District Judge David Johnson's decision filed Thursday. Dahlstrom was charged with second degree murder in the death of 75-year-old Sally Marie Pionk. She was killed by Dahlstrom in a random knife attack while shopping at the West Duluth Super One store on a December night.
Most of the rats living the good life underneath Congdon Park Elementary School have either moved to new digs or succumbed to poison. A large colony numbering several hundred rats triggered the closure of the school and its grounds this summer when it was discovered rodents had been feasting from a school compost bin for some time. The property was closed to allow a pest control service to work freely.
The Duluth school district failed to appropriately respond to a former School Board member's public data request, according to an opinion by the Minnesota Department of Administration. Art Johnston asked for an advisory opinion from the department regarding data he requested from the district in early March.