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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.
Duluth Edison Charter Schools has scrapped its plans for a high school. Head of school Bonnie Jorgenson said Monday that building a high school is no longer "financially feasible."
By many accounts, Kong James Xiong is one of the most well-known and well-liked students at Denfeld High School. Just this year, he was involved in more than a dozen extracurricular activities ranging from Key Club to varsity tennis, he tutored other kids after school and was named homecoming king. Despite that, Kong, who graduates Thursday with Denfeld's Class of 2017 and will attend Carleton College on a full scholarship next fall, is humble and approachable, said Denfeld English teacher Michele Helbacka.
About 100 Ordean East Middle School students were told they violated a Duluth school district dress code policy Friday. A Snapchat sent by a student Thursday night encouraged Ordean East students to violate the code, said Rachel Jackson, assistant principal of the school. "The dress code topic comes up every spring when it gets nice out," Jackson said, noting that most of the violators were girls with shorts and skirts that didn't follow district dress code policy. She said many were prepared, and brought other clothes to change into.
The Duluth School Board has agreed to borrow money that will allow renovations to the former Rockridge Elementary and replacement of rubber playground mulch.
Parents have started a petition in reaction to the news that Laura MacArthur Elementary School principal Nathan Glockle has been reassigned to Stowe Elementary in the westernmost part of the Duluth school district. Glockle has built strong relationships with families at Laura MacArthur, and moving him disrupts the work he has done in recent years, said Len Johnson, who has three children at the school. "We picked the school because of the leader," he said. "I just don't see how there won't be an impact if you remove the leader."