Archive for August, 2009

281 officials “scramble” to get schools ready

August 31, 2009

1,500 students will gather at Robbinsdale Middle School this year. Too many kids, not enough classrooms. Then there’s the problem of resizing bathroom equipment, building kitchens and a security entrance, and other items in time for the start of school. The cost of the move is quickly adding up, according to this MN Sun Post article:

Renovations at numerous school buildings were underway last week, as workers scrambled to get things in place for the start of the teachers’ workshop week Monday, Aug. 31.

Much of last week’s activity centered on Robbinsdale Middle School, where moving vans were unloading the contents of classrooms and stacking them in front of signs in a gym listing each teacher’s name and room number.

The major retrofitting at the school, aimed at accommodating approximately 1,500 middle school students this year, includes the expansion and addition of offices, and installation of a security entrance at the front door.

RMS teachers were encouraged to unpack and put away items in their classrooms last week, Principal Tom Henderlite said.

The one-time cost of the district-wide transition from 17 schools to 14 – including moving costs — is estimated at $680,000, according to Dennis Beekman, District 281’s executive director of technology.

“To date, approximately $630,000 has been spent, and we believe costs will be very close to the estimate once all work is completed,” he said.

We’ll keep an eye out for the total cost of the moves, and how their promise of saving $2,000,000 a year holds up. PTSO volunteers  have been an enormous help in getting things ready, as RMS cut 2 custodians. There’s also word that teachers will now be adding cleaning to their daily load of duties at RMS – adding another dimension to “scrambling.”

2009: 14 out of 16 Robbinsdale schools fail AYP

August 20, 2009

Last year it was 13. From the MN Sun-Post:

Two of the 16 schools in Robbinsdale District 281 met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards in 2009 under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

They are Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion School in Robbinsdale and Zachary Lane Elementary in Plymouth.

But our students are “achieving,” according to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Gayle Walkowiak:

“Student achievement has been the top priority of our district and our community,” Walkowiak said. “We will continue to research and implement strategies to improve student achievement.”

The district plans a number of interventions to improve student achievement during the 2009-10 school year, including the following:

– Approximately $4 million in federal stimulus funds will be used to hire up to nine instructional coaches and up to nine intervention specialists. The instructional coaches will support elementary teachers as they implement Response to Intervention, a systematic approach to improving whole-school reading and/or mathematics instruction.

– Both Armstrong and Cooper high schools will continue after-school homework help and credit recovery, and Cooper plans to increase participation, expand the number of courses for which help is offered and provide more follow-up to make sure students are getting the help they need.

$4,000,000 in federal stimulus funds used to hire “coaches” and “intervention specialists”? You might call that achievement if you’re Education Minnesota (where union memberships grow while student scores shrink). Once again, throwing money at (instead of addressing) the problem is the rule at 281. What are RSIS and Zachary doing that the other schools aren’t?

Patsy Green to run again for school board

August 16, 2009

Green announced her candidacy in the MN Sun Post August 13. A section read:

My ongoing priorities are:
– Academic excellence
– Stable funding for public education
– Effective and efficient programs
– Lower class sizes
– Productive communication

Great schools are key to good communities. I will provide the continuity crucial to keep this district moving in the direction so many residents wanted through their input in the strategic plan and successful referendum.

The only continuity Green has provided our district is ineptitude, and we give her a failing grade on all of her “priorities.”   Read our archived posts for a history of Green’s performance as former Chair:

If there’s one candidate who doesn’t deserve re-election, it’s Patsy Green. The Sun Post announced Linda Johnson is seeking re-election, and we are hearing that Tom Walsh and Jonas Buegen may also run again.

We are also hearing that the field of opposing candidates is growing and we’ll post info on them as we get information. Candidates can file to run for school board Tuesday, August 25 through Tuesday, September 8, with a filing fee of $2. Two dollars and enough votes can buy a lot of healthy change in the district!

Letter: Scores Are Pathetic

August 4, 2009

A resident agrees in this letter to the MN Sun Post July 30:

To the editor:

The results of this year’s No Child Left Behind scores are simply frightening. Only 47 percent of Armstrong and 35 percent of Cooper 11th grade students passed math?

Folks, those results are not poor, they are pathetic. In his book “Good to Great” Jim Collins writes, “Greatness is not a function of circumstances. Greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice.”

For far too long, administrators and teachers have complained about a variety of circumstances hindering education achievement. Well, with these results, the excuses must end immediately!

Imagine an airline pilot being correct 35 percent of the time; imagine a brain surgeon being correct 47 percent of the time; imagine a pitcher throwing strikes 35 percent of the time – none would have a sustaining career.

If this trend continues, our students will not have a sustaining career, nor the ability to provide correct change at a cash register 50 percent of the time.

These scores are embarrassing and appalling. If our education leaders are producing these results, then 100 percent of them need to find a different career.

The good news is that we have a new superintendent.Dr. Aldo Sicoli, with these scores, you have a remarkable opportunity to create an exceptional legacy with your leadership.

Yet, if you’re not able to produce scores of about 70 percent within three years, please resign. Also, please don’t accept any bonus money until scores surpass 80 percent. There’s no need for any bonus money paid to anyone with these results.

Todd M
Plymouth