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Boundaries within the Duluth school district could change in the future, as enrollment is projected to continue to decline, especially at the elementary level. That's according to a new demographic study commissioned by the district, which also shows that most school buildings have room for more students. The information sets the stage for the School Board to decide how to move forward.
It's not unusual to see a group of kids jamming together on guitars, drums and ukuleles before school starts at Duluth Edison's North Star Academy. "Last week, they stuck out a sombrero and got a Jolly Rancher and two dollar bills, and they thought that was pretty awesome," said Aundrea Kinziger, music specialist and teacher at the school. The kids' enthusiasm for making music is fostered by intentional efforts at the school toward using music instruction to help educate "the whole child."
The Duluth School Board approved a plan to address a $2.3 million budget shortfall Tuesday night. Proposed budget cuts include $542,000 from educational support and more than $650,000 from administration and its support staff. Another $700,000 in savings is expected to come from new hires replacing retirees.
A hot topic in Duluth and nationally helped two Ordean East Middle School students win a prestigious award at the state science fair last month. Erin Coleman and Teagan Flynn were given the Seagate Rising Star Award — which recognizes students whose research shows a high level of understanding of the scientific process — for their project that studies the potential toxicity of rubber mulch used on playgrounds, fields and in gardens.
How a pot of state money meant for helping "underprepared" and low-performing students is divided among Duluth district schools is a concern to a community group working to solve equity issues.
The Duluth school district is facing a $2.3 million budget deficit, although that amount could change depending on state aid and teacher contract negotiations. The School Board will vote next week on a preliminary budget that shows a $1.5 million deficit to the $86.7 million general fund, with $783,000 in new investments, creating the $2.3 million total shortfall.
The former Rockridge Elementary in Duluth's Lakeside neighborhood moves a step closer to becoming the home of Woodland Hills Academy next week if the Duluth School Board approves a design services contract. A $155,000 contract with Architectural Resources will allow work to examine the property and determine the cost of renovating it for the 100-plus kids served by the academy. The current estimation is $2.5 million.
Last school year, counselors at the University of Minnesota Duluth logged nearly 2,900 student visits, a 50 percent increase from a decade ago. Amid the typical problems of breakups, college-life adjustments and roommate troubles, counselors are seeing far more depression, stress and anxiety, said Jean Baribou-Thoennes, director of counseling services at UMD.
It's still not an announcement, but it's close: 8th District DFL Rep. Rick Nolan told MinnPost Thursday that he was "leaning toward running for governor." In March Nolan told the News Tribune he hadn't had time to decide whether he would run for governor of Minnesota in 2018. On Thursday he told MinnPost, "I've been trying to find a good reason for not doing it, and I'm having difficulty finding that good reason."
Duluth schools superintendent Bill Gronseth said he has withdrawn from other job searches. The day after it was announced the Winona (Minn.) school district had chosen another candidate among three finalists, of which Gronseth was one, he posted an unusually candid message on his Facebook page. He said he applied for other positions because he had grown "nervous" during the months that his contract — approved in December — was being discussed by the Duluth School Board.