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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 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.
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.
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Duluth schools superintendent Bill Gronseth said he has withdrawn from other job searches.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.
Duluth schools superintendent Bill Gronseth was not picked to lead the Winona school district in southeastern Minnesota. One of three finalists, the Winona School Board Monday night chose Richard Dahman of the Medford (Minn.) school district. Winona — with about 3,100 students — makes the third time in recent weeks Gronseth was publicly considered for another school leadership job. He was also interviewed by the Elk River and White Bear Lake school districts.
Nearly 40 percent of students enrolled in the tiny Wrenshall school district don't live within its boundaries. That fact is a driver of some opposition to the district's $12.5 million bond referendum set for April 18, when voters will be asked to pay for renovations and an expansion to the preK-12 school about 25 miles southwest of Duluth, increasing its size by more than one-third. Wrenshall's enrollment is "artificial," said Mike Rabideaux, a district resident and retired superintendent of the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School.
A private company has been hired by the Duluth school district to search East and Denfeld high schools with dogs sniffing for drugs, alcohol and gunpowder. Interquest Detection Canines has already searched each school a couple of times, after holding assemblies for students to learn what the dogs do. The national company, with franchises in Duluth and Wadena, Minn., is also used by schools in Wrenshall, Hibbing, Chisholm, Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert.
If United Properties buys the former Nettleton Elementary School from the Duluth school district, it expects to tear it down. A spokeswoman for the Minneapolis-based developer said last week that renovating the existing Central Hillside building would be too costly. “We still very much like the location and believe a senior housing development would meet an unmet community need; it’s our hope that it might be possible to move forward with new construction on that site,” Sheila Thelemann, director of marketing for United Properties, wrote in an email.