Archive for January, 2009

281’s Boundaries and Segregation

January 23, 2009

It was nice to see the RSD board room overflowing with concerned citizens January 20 (we attended and watched the proceedings live). The board voted 6-1 in favor of the K-5 option (Tom Walsh supported the K-6 option).

Some of the comments reported at the MN SunPost caught our eye:

Two-dozen people spoke during the public hearing preceding the Jan. 20 school board meeting. Many urged the board to disrupt the fewest number of students and schools possible. Others spoke to the needs of special education students, minorities and youngsters who are living in poverty.

Debbie Shapiro of Plymouth said the K-5 plan retains two unrenovated elementary schools (Northport in Brooklyn Center and Lakeview in Robbinsdale) and “further segregates the district” in racial and socio-economic ways.

“Somewhere in the process the vision has been lost,” she said.

We agree that closing schools was necessary, and appreciate the board adding another forum for citizens to speak. However, the segregation issue will need to be addressed with the new boundaries. A concerned staffer sent us this e-mail response from the District:

Demographic balance is not occurring at our schools now, and was not considered a criterion for the facilities study. For example, our elementary schools now range in minority enrollment from approximately 15% to 70%. The district’s current Desegregation Plan uses two strategies to address equity issues: The use of boundaries and busing, and strengthening higher poverty/minority schools through equity initiatives. These strategies would continue to be used in the future.

The staffer wondered if we should take this to mean they don’t really care about the boundaries they have drawn. How can they keep busing as one of their “fixes” if they are cutting the costs of busing across district? We will keep a close watch on this issue and how the board handles it.

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Breaking: Public hearing added before board meeting Jan. 20

January 19, 2009

Speed Gibson posted breaking news:

There’s breaking news on the District 281 web site. There is now a Public Hearing scheduled for 5:30 pm this Tuesday, ahead of the Robbinsdale Area Schools Board meeting at 7 pm. And, the “close Sonnesyn” alternative of the K-5 option (not to be confused with the “K-5 Variation” option) has been detailed in an additional Consultant report.

One suspects there has been some feedback since the Board work session last Thursday that set Tuesday’s agenda. That agenda will take up option K-5 as recommended first, which will close Sunny Hollow, Pilgrim Lane, and Sandburg. But if that is not adopted, then the K-5 alternative that closes Sonnesyn instead of Sunny Hollow will be considered.

The school board is listening, so attend if you can Tuesday at 5:30.

The options remaining for consideration are:

1.    The K-5 option, which was recommended by the facilities study team, and closes Pilgrim Lane and Sunny Hollow Elementary Schools, and Sandburg Middle School in 2009-10. In this option, Sunny Hollow is repurposed as the Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion School (RSIS), and Sandburg students are split between the remaining middle schools.

2.    A slight variation on the K-5 option which closes Sonnesyn Elementary School instead of Sunny Hollow.

3.    The K-6 Option, which moves 6th grade to elementary schools, closes Northport and Lakeview Elementary Schools and Robbinsdale Middle School in 2009-10. Most Northport and Lakeview students would move to the former Robbinsdale Middle School space alongside Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion School (RSIS).

The board meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Cable channel 22. The board will consider the options early in the meeting. Every effort will be made to show the public meeting live as well.

Here’s the link to download Facilities Study 4 (Sonnesyn variation)

Parents, voters feeling betrayed by school board

January 18, 2009

We hate to say, “we told you so,” but are hopeful more citizens are waking up to the ineptitude of most in the 281 administration, like this writer to the MN Sun-Post:

Why is it that we, the constituents of District 281, should trust the school board and administration to follow through on what they say are the overall benefits to the students of District 281 by closing any of the mentioned schools?

In talking with parents who voted, and worked diligently, for the passage of the November referendum, there is a growing feeling of betrayal by many towards the school board for the support we the taxpayers have given the district. The term “hoodwinked” was used to describe one involved Sunny Hollow parent when discussing her activity in helping getting the referendum passed.

In looking at a breakdown of which areas in District 281 passed November’s referendum, all the immediate precincts around Sunny Hollow, Sandburg, Pilgrim Lane, along with others in the southwest quadrant contributed mightily to the referendum’s success.

The school board will need parent support to pass future referendums. I suggest they think strongly about the negative impact their actions will have on their constituents in precincts that can make or break future revenue needs.

Keith H.
Crystal

It’s all about Mack

January 16, 2009

A Sandburg Middle School employee told us of Stan Mack addressing SMS staff recently. He was asked if support staff would lose their jobs with the school closings. Mack replied yes, with the closings it’s likely that support staff positions will be eliminated.

Later Mack told the group that if anyone is interested, he’s received multiple job offers.

The emperor has no clothes.

Your input wanted, so they say

January 16, 2009

For those that have submitted surveys, attended meetings and the public hearings and think it’s making a difference in the school board’s decision-making, don’t count on it. Thursday’s work session showed the board writing pros and cons on 8 options, but many feel that the school board has already made a decision and this was all for show.

If not, we find it curious that Monday’s work session is closed (no press or public allowed) before Tuesday’s board meeting “to select one of the options.”

281 Meeting Planner

January 12, 2009

The next two weeks are opportunities for district citizens to speak their piece and get involved. Speed Gibson posted a summary:

  • Work Session: Monday, January 12th 6 pm, ESC Boardroom.
    TV: First hour live, full replay Jan. 13, 7 pm.
  • Public Meeting: Tuesday, January 13th 7 pm, Cooper High School.
    TV: Replayed Jan 14 and 15, 1 pm
  • Work Session: Thursday, January 15th 5:30 pm, ESC Boardroom.
    TV: Live, replay Jan. 17 noon.
  • Board Meeting: Tuesday, January 20th 7 pm, ESC Boardroom.
    TV: Live, replayed Jan 21 7 pm, Jan 22 8 am, Jan 25 pm.

You can also make suggestions at the RSD online Superintendent Profile Survey:

Members of the Board of Education request your assistance in developing a leadership profile that will be used in the search for a new superintendent. If you prefer to fill this survey out by hand, please print this survey and fax to 847-579-1586 or e-mail mdragseth@comcast.net. All responses will be confidential. This survey is conducted by School Exec Connect.

Bring on the counter-movement!

January 10, 2009

Stan Mack is leaving our district at the end of the school year, and for us it’s not soon enough. The arrogance and iron hand of his treatment to 281 residents and staff didn’t go unnoticed in this letter to the Sun-Post:

In the Dec. 25 issue of the Sun, relating to the breakfast meeting of the District 281 Legislative Action Coalition, I read with apprehension “…Superintendent Stan Mack asked that legislators support their local school boards by not ‘getting involved in counter-movements from constituents.'”

What does he mean by “counter-movements?” A detailed explanation of this statement and its meaning must be made. Does this mean that Superintendent Mack is unilaterally advising that our legislators ignore anyone disputing or contesting decisions made by the District 281 Board or himself?

Is he advising the thwarting of constituent communication, taking away access to our elected legislative officials? Could he be that frightened of disagreement?

Or is he terrified by the thought that taxpayers who pay his salary might diverge from his directives, perhaps providing new or innovative thoughts to their legislators?

Or is he perhaps suggesting that the constitutional guarantee of free access to our elected officials be brought to an end?

It would be most interesting to learn how the legislators attending [the breakfast meeting] reacted to this statement. Are they in agreement with this diktat, or do they differ with this democratically regressive thinking?

Gerald B.
New Hope

If Stan Mack thinks he can threaten legislators to be submissive to their local school boards, wait until November. He, the 281 school board. and the LAC appear drunk with power after the passing of the referendum. The real power lies in the people, and it’s time we remind them who pays their salaries and who can replace them with their votes.

“Giddy” Patsy Green steps down as School Board Chair

January 7, 2009

From Speed Gibson, who attended the Jan 5th school board meeting:

Also tonight in the annual Organizational Meeting, Robbinsdale School Board member Patsy Green stepped down as Chair. The new officers are now Chair Tom Walsh, Vice Chair Linda Johnson, and Treasurer Sherry Terrell. Helen Bassett continues as Clerk.

This is excellent news, after Patsy exposed herself as a partisan politician for Keith Ellison, then further tainted her image in a Channel 12 news interview last Saturday that she was “so giddy” about the 281 referendum passing. Imagine how happy residents will be when “P Giddy” is not sitting in any school board chair in 2009, and recuses herself from running for any future public office.