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The Duluth School Board voted Tuesday night to reject the $1.2 million bid to replace the controversial tire mulch on district playgrounds, and instead decided to rebid the project in hopes of a cheaper price tag. The board also voted against moving forward with a process that would analyze school boundaries to address enrollment imbalances.
The Duluth school district doesn't have the money to replace rubber playground mulch and renovate the former Rockridge Elementary school this year. That could mean borrowing up to $4.3 million to ensure both unbudgeted projects are completed. That amount would pay for Rockridge and a large chunk of planned improvements to district buildings, including projects at Historic Old Central High School and Myers-Wilkins Elementary. With those costs taken care of, money meant for this year's capital improvements could pay for the mulch project.
Many Rivers Montessori is expected to have a new home in 2018, opening in the former Cobb Elementary School building in Duluth's Woodland neighborhood. A purchase agreement has been signed with The Hills Youth and Family Services, which owns the building and rents it to the Duluth school district for the education of its clients. Those students are moving elsewhere.
Replacing the rubber mulch used on 10 playgrounds may cost the Duluth school district at least $1.2 million and take three years to complete. The Duluth School Board earlier this year voted to replace the controversial material with wood chips, but wanted to see bids before settling on a timeline. The replacement estimate then was $630,000. But the lowest bid, district staff said at a Monday meeting, was $1.2 million, with the bid calling for four elementaries to be done this summer, four next year and the two middle schools in the third year.
Another housing developer has backed away from purchasing the former Nettleton Elementary School from the Duluth school district. Minneapolis-based United Properties has opted against developing the property, said Duluth schools superintendent Bill Gronseth, noting the decision had to do with "timelines." "Once they looked (further) into the building and what they'd like to do with the site," he said, "I think it just didn't work out."
A bronze homage to a roving Lakeside neighborhood cat is the goal of a 5K run to be held May 20, in the cat's memory.
The lawsuit brought against the University of Minnesota Duluth by 13 alumni over a teacher licensure issue has resulted in a jury trial expected to begin Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court. The former students, who graduated from UMD in December of 2014, have alleged fraud and misrepresentation by UMD in connection with compliance problems within the College of Education and Human Service Professions' integrated elementary and special education (IESE) program.
When Hermantown school district staff began hearing students discuss the plot of Netflix's popular new series "13 Reasons Why," many became concerned and watched it themselves. "It's pretty graphic," said Jenny Wiese, principal of the middle school. The show is based on a book and tells the story of 17-year-old Hannah Baker, who takes her own life. She reveals why through a series of tapes intended for people she says played a role in her decision to kill herself.
One is out, two are in and one's not saying. Duluth School Board incumbents Rosie Loeffler-Kemp and Harry Welty told the News Tribune this week they plan to run to reclaim their seats this fall. Board member Art Johnston declined to comment on a potential run and Annie Harala said she was opting out. Harala, an At Large member who has served as chairwoman and is completing her first four-year term, said her decision was made for personal family reasons, although she struggled with it.
A decision to move forward with examining school boundary changes was put off by the Duluth School Board Wednesday night. Board members seemed split on whether an outside firm should be hired to both analyze boundaries and helm a process to engage the public in decision-making, and voted 5-2 to decide in May. Members Alanna Oswald and Art Johnston opposed the measure, both wanting to approve a boundary analysis, putting off only a decision about the more expensive public process.