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- 4 years 6 months
Seventeen-year-old Ashley Campbell pointed her camera at a long, arbor-like structure in a garden at Northwood Children's Services one day last week. It was topped with wooden beams that allowed sun to filter down to the dirt, showing a pattern of shade and light. Why did she shoot that? "It's a rough path, but there is dark and light in it," Campbell said. "And at the end of the tunnel it's sunshine."
The Duluth school district could lose a longtime source of state money that pays for a dozen employees who work with the most at-risk kids. Earlier this month the Minnesota Department of Education told the Duluth district that it no longer qualifies for money related to achievement and integration programs, which this past year totaled $1.6 million.
A watered-down version of a Duluth School Board proposal that advocated for the refinancing of Red Plan debt was approved Tuesday night. Board member Art Johnston proposed the original resolution, which suggested the district explore refinancing all Red Plan debt and halting an annual general-fund transfer that pays part of that debt. They were moves he said could help the district's financial woes, but that district officials said would require changing federal and state laws.
What Duluth teachers are paid has been settled for the next four years following approval by the Duluth School Board Tuesday night. The two contracts — with increases over four years that total about $3 million — were approved 6-1, with board member Harry Welty opposing the measure.
In an effort to attract more students, the Duluth school district plans to send buses into three neighboring communities this fall. The district has seen steady enrollment decline for decades attributed to many reasons, including changing demographics, more school choice and the tumult of the long-range facilities plan. Enrollment currently sits at about 8,500. This past school year, 30 percent of Duluth district residents were enrolled elsewhere, ranging from charter and online schools to neighboring districts. Only 3 percent of Duluth's students are open-enrollees.
Duluth school district teachers approved the terms of two two-year contracts last week, an unusual feat in Minnesota. Approved in the first contract were increases of 1 percent in 2017 and 1.5 percent in 2018. In the second contract — which runs from 2019 to 2021, increases of 2 percent each year were approved.
The Duluth school district's budget shortfall has been reduced to $1.9 million. School Board members heard an updated plan to address the deficit Monday night, which included new investments and cuts and took into account a better-than-expected state per-pupil aid increase that knocked the deficit down from $2.3 million. That means the more than $100,000 in expected clerical cuts are no longer on the table, at least for now, and two elementary school principals who were to shift buildings to save money are no longer moving.
Duluthian David McMillan was named chairman of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents Friday. Elected by the regents to serve a two-year term, McMillan replaces Dean E. Johnson. McMillan is executive vice president of Minnesota Power. He was re-elected to the Board of Regents this year for a second six-year term, representing the 8th Congressional District.
The field of Duluth School Board candidates has begun to fill out. Four new candidates have announced their intention to run: Josh Gorham, Bogdana Krivogorsky and Sally Trnka are vying for two open At Large seats, and Kurt Kuehn for the eastern Duluth District 1 seat. One At Large seat is being vacated by Annie Harala, who has chosen not to run for a second term. At Large incumbent Harry Welty is running to retain his seat. Rosie Loeffler-Kemp is also running to retain her District 1 seat.
The Duluth school district's efforts toward offering more equity between Denfeld and East high schools have fallen short, according to the community group that formed this winter to address the issue. The Duluth School Board held a meeting Monday where district administration laid out changes it could make and was making, and what it would cost to begin some of the higher-priority suggestions of the group.