Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Magent School Info

June 7, 2011


The Magnets/Partnerships Sub-Committee has continued to meet regarding possible magnet opportunities, and are planning to present a final report to the School Board in August.  The committee actively sought input from the community through surveys done in late 2010, and through a community informational night on April 27th, where a small survey was conducted as well.  For more information on the survey results in 2010, please refer to the School Board minutes from December 13, 2010.  The results of the April 27th survey as well as the handout used in the April 27th presentation, are posted below.  The public also posed questions both before, during and after the April 27th informational session.  Answers to those questions can be found by clicking on the Magnet F.A.Q. link below. 

For more information, please contact Tia Clasen, Marketing and Communications Program Director,
at 763-504-8029 or email her at

Here are the district’s links;

Magnet Survey Results and Analysis

Magnet FAQs

Magnets/Partnership Committee meeting handout

Video: Teachers Unions Explained

May 25, 2011

A supporter of the teachers unions is questioned about her belief that the unions need more money and power.

281 CARE Has Day in Court

November 17, 2010

Looks like the three-year-long legal battle between 281 CARE and the Robbinsdale School District is finally coming to a head in court.  Here is some information on the what and where;

281 CARE Committee et al v. Ross Arneson et al, Court File No. 10-1558
November 18, 2010 at 9:00 am
U.S. Court House, 316 North Roberts Street, St. Paul, MN

Before a Three Judge Panel, will hear oral arguments on this Federal Appeals Court case.

We’ll keep you posted on what happens and see if the court upholds free speech rights for everyone!

Enhancing Security?

October 27, 2010

Here is an interesting post about putting in security cameras at our schools.  Apparently the district has received a grant (ie; federal tax dollars) to “enhance security” at the schools in New Hope.


Federal SOS grant to enhance safety at New Hope schools

New Hope, Minnesota—The City of New Hope, in partnership with Robbinsdale Area Schools, has been awarded a “Secure Our Schools” (SOS) grant in the amount of $112,620 from the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.

Co-authored by Robbinsdale Redesign Program Director Melodie Hanson, Robbinsdale Area Schools Safety & Security Director Brian Koch, and New Hope Chief of Police Gary Link, the grant will fund the installation of needed school safety and security equipment at Robbinsdale Cooper High School, Meadow Lake Elementary, Sonnesyn Elementary and Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion (RSI), as well as several ongoing crisis prevention and response programs. The funds will provide infrastructure updates for the security camera system at Cooper, upgrades to the exterior gymnasium doors at Cooper, and additional interior hallway cameras at RSI, Sonnesyn and Meadow Lake Elementary Schools.

This year’s grant for New Hope schools represents the fifth year an SOS award has been received by the district in cooperation with local municipalities. The SOS grant received in 2009 funded safety improvements at Robbinsdale Middle School and Lakeview Elementary School in the City of Robbinsdale, while the 2008 SOS grant funded improvements for schools within the City of Plymouth.

“These funds demonstrate the importance of collaboration in ongoing safety and security planning,” said Koch. “The grant will assist the district and local law enforcement in advancing their ongoing commitment to ensuring safety and security for students, staff and community.”

Now we realize that Federal money (which is still our money or at least the 53% of us that actually pay federal taxes) comes with strings attached.  Perhaps we have few options here.  You want to upgrade doors at Cooper’s gymnasium?  Fine with us.  Should Cooper have a security camera?  We suppose.  But cameras at Meadow Lake, Sonnesyn, and RSI?   Is there a gang problem at these schools?  If there have been issues please feel free to comment here but we don’t think that spending money on cameras at elementary schools is a good way to spend our money.

Here’s Yet Another letter to the Editor

September 20, 2010

Where Did the Money Go?

On Nov. 3, 2008, the Robbinsdale Public Schools wrote on its website concerning the referendum money they needed, “The district would also use new referendum revenue to prevent future cuts expected to be necessary as state revenue continues to increase at a rate less than inflation.”  When I visited my son’s school open house, I learned that the class size increased from 23 students to 29 students. I wonder how his second-grade teacher is going to handle all of the needs of the students she serves.

There also were no new after-school activities with these new funds. This leads me to wonder where did the money go for the promise the district made of preventing cuts?  With this track record, how can the district be trusted with their budget and how could they ever expect to pass a referendum in the future?

Michael Resig,


Ah, you want to know where your money is Mr. Resig?  Go to and type in Tom Dooher.

Michelle Rhee is our Hero

August 1, 2010

The Superintendent of the Washington DC schools Michelle Rhee just fired 241 teachers for poor performance (out of 4000) for not performing up to certain standards.  It is absolutely terrific to see a superintendent take on the Teacher’s Union and think of the kids rather than use the schools for a jobs program.  Imagine if school boards and superintendents in this area could (or would) set up standards that could reward good teachers and remove bad teachers.  Bring this to Minnesota!! Of course, predictably, the Teacher’s Union is up in arms and whining as they always are.  If the union is unhappy with Rhee, then that tells us she is doing great!  Keep it up Michelle!

Spending our Money Part 2

July 16, 2010

How did we overlook this great article in July 1 edition of the Sun Post;

Money Spent on fluff?

For months now, we’ve been subjected to the constant bleating from the usual groups that our schools are underfunded and we need to give, give, give lest the children suffer.  Imagine my consternation when I read that District 281 is now going to change the names of three schools.  Some schools now become learning centers and vice-versa.

Here is the truly maddening part; the Robbinsdale Middle School has already had several name changes- from a school to a learning center and now back to a school.  Funny, I thought schools were learning centers.  I must be old school.

How much is this going to cost?  New stationary, new building signage and the hidden costs: I.T. folks modifying the web sites and all of the other administrative costs associated with these changes.

I fail to see how changing part of the building’s name will in any way improve the school’s (learning center’s) ability to educate the students.  At a time when state and school budgets are being slashed, District 281 is one again blissfully spending on fluff.

I’ve got an idea.  When 41% of District 281 students failed the state math test and 34 %  failed reading (Star Tribune), perhaps the district should maybe, perhaps, focus on some basics instead of wasting resources like this.  According to the Star Tribune article, District 281 has not met the minimum standards since 2006.

But at least we have some nice new names on our buildings!

Wade and Julie English of New Hope

Wow!  Terrific job Mr. and Mrs. English!  When the district seeks another referendum in 2011 or 2012 (which they will even though they try and deny it of course), we can remind them of how they continue to spend our money.

Discussing ISD 281 and School Choice

April 1, 2010

Check out the Andrew Richter Show on Thursday April 8, channel 19 at 6 pm.  Vicki Lechelt is the guest  host with special guests 2009 school board candidate Andrew Richter and author Jerry Lindberg.  The three of them will discuss the board’s plan to back-door a referendum to fix up Northport and Lakeview, give the latest details on the employee contracts, and let you in on what is going on at the state capitol, namely HF 3699 and HF 3063.  They will also explain the benefits of school vouchers, tax credits, and more competition as opposed to Big Education’s MORE MONEY mantra.  The show will be replayed on Friday April 9 at 2 am and 10 am.  It will also air again the following week on April 15 at 6 pm and April 16 at 2 am and 10 am.  All shows will be on Comcast  channel 19.

Patsy Green: Partisan part 2

March 11, 2010

Patsy Green can help you make a difference in a leadership role! For the Robbinsdale School District? No, for the senate district 45 DFL party :

We’ll let the image speak for itself along with your comments.

(see related posts: Did Patsy Green violate school board code of ethics? & Patsy Green: arrogant and partisan )

Bleak Financial Situation or Golden Opportunity?

January 29, 2010

The Sun Post reported this week that “District 281 faces (‘bleak’ in print, or ‘dire’ online) financial situation.” Despite passing a referendum in 2008 and closing three schools, our district like others around the state are looking at serious budget cuts. 281 has to cut $5.7 million. The state may be dipping into districts with funds and Robbinsdale might be one source to borrow about $2.4 million. Remember, borrowing means it will be paid back eventually.

Dr. Sicoli advised the school board to “begin thinking about areas in which they are willing to make budget reductions.”

Turn to the editorial section in the Sun-Post and you’ll find an editor there making valid points on reform. Paul Wahl wrote,

The reason we need reform is because we’ve reached the end of what can be cut. It’s no longer a matter of doing more with less, it’s doing less with less.

…Reform might mean eliminating a department that isn’t state or federally mandated.

Think of the freedoms and money districts would have by chopping those unfunded mandated programs!

For schools, reform often centers around choice – charter schools, open enrollment and similar plans. Those many have started their lives as reform, but it’s hard to argue too strenuously either represents reform in light of today’s education challenges.

We’ll buy the argument with open enrollment, as we’ve seen the issues with security and mobility expenses “The Choice is Yours” program added to the budget – despite getting money ($12,000) for each student who enrolled. However, a charter school would attract district students back and neighboring students. And, a charter school decision is our choice – we set the rules, unlike CIY which was a forced government ruling from a lawsuit.

But what comes after the last budget cut finally severs the bone? When and how are we going to make the tough decisions that shape what schools and cities will look like 10 years from now? When do we start the conversation?

The divestiture committee met this week, and we’ll post updates. For us, selling unused properties is a glaring golden opportunity to get funds in. Allow a charter school here and bring back fleeing students going to other districts. Be brave, district leadership! Think outside of the box, beyond 2010, and government and union strong-arming which has drained too many district, city and state coffers. The choice is yours.

Check out Give2Attain’s article with links to the spreadsheet and comments:

Budget Reduction Announcement
Budget Adjustment Worksheet

Some things to remember when looking at the linked worksheet:

  • $1 million = ~83 student drop at ~$12,000 per student (09/10)
  • $3.6 million = ~300 student drop at ~$12,000 per student (10/11)
  • The 10/11 student reduction is an estimate which could easily vary higher or lower. (ie guesstimate)
  • This is why schools are interested in enticing the students back to the district, or pulling open enrollees into the district.
  • This is variation across ~12,000 students, so though the numbers are big, the percent variation is fairly small. (300 kids = 2.5%)
  • $5.7 million gap = $5.9 million fund bal goal – $ .2 million forecast
  • As DJ pointed out: apparently ~$3 million of the gap created when the latest contract was signed. (G2A S and L) Now is this labor or mgmts fault… Either way, all of us will pay in the coming years.
  • This is operating dollars, not capital… Selling facilities will not raise funds that can directly offset this. Though, it would result in reduced maintenance, heating, etc expenses.