NEWS DAY | Icy St. Paul streets, heated Minneapolis school debate

After a weekend blizzard of complaints about icy, dangerous St. Paul streets, Mayor Chris Coleman responded on Monday with a "reorganization of snow maintenance leadership" in the Public Works Department and announced "a more aggressive salting and sanding operation." Sounds like a good idea, even if the city isn't entirely to blame for the snow-rain-freeze cycle that turned streets into washboards and many intersections into skating rinks.

The mayor's office also announced a budget "reprioritization" to speed up purchase of more salter/sander/plow trucks.

And in Minneapolis ...

The Minneapolis school board is set to vote December 10 on the big Five Year Enrollment Plan. After some tweaks to the plan in response to parent pushback, it has these major changes, according to Steve Brandt's blog in the Star Tribune (click on the link here - the online version of the blog has more information than the print version):

"Major points in the proposal: Expansion of Southwest, Sanford, Seward Montessori (2016); reopening of Franklin Middle (2015), Cityview, Webster and an expanded Cooper school (2017); new early childhood programs at Wilder, Webster, North and Davis Center; eventual addition of arts-technical programs at Sanford and Roosevelt; addition of all-day kindergarten at five southwest schools without it; bus passes for students from outside Minneapolis willing to open enroll in 2014 to high-poverty schools; locating one of Harvest Prep’s sister charter schools at Lincoln building (2014)."

The proposal to expand Southwest High School is controversial. At MinnPost, Beth Hawkins explores the controversy, noting that:

"A perennial fixture atop 'best schools' lists, Southwest is commonly regarded as Minnesota’s best high school. It has the lowest poverty rate of the district’s high schools and several times as many course offerings as some of its peers."

School board member Carla Bates, in an op/ed published in the Star Tribune, explains why many people are pushing the Southwest expansion and why she opposes it:

"Why not simply shift the school boundaries and send more students from overcrowded classrooms in the southwest to the other high schools in our city?

"Answer: Because parents at those two schools would rise up in revolt. And they’d have good reason, because currently not all Minneapolis high schools are created equal. In Minneapolis, high schools with higher enrollments have the staff necessary to offer more courses in more subjects than schools with lower enrollments. They offer more art, music, drama, sports and extracurricular activities. They have more-experienced teachers and administrators. ...

"I oppose the proposed $40 million addition on Southwest High School, not because I have anything against this high-achieving school, but because I think it’s a Band-Aid approach to a districtwide problem and, therefore, a poor use of a lot of public dollars."

Follow the link for much more on the Five Year Enrollment plan, how it was received at community forums, and what changes have been made since it was first introduced on September 24.

    Our primary commenting system uses Facebook logins. If you wish to comment without having a Facebook account, please create an account on this site and log in first. If you are already a registered user, just scroll up to the log in box in the right hand column and log in.

    Mary Turck's picture
    Mary Turck

    Mary Turck (editor [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net) is the editor of the TC Daily Planet.