Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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District 833 School Board members are charting the path toward hiring a new superintendent, even while addressing lingering concerns about Superintendent Mark Porter. Board members met Saturday with SchoolExecConnect to set a timeline for the schools chief search and hiring process, but they also debated whether to hold a public meeting to answer questions about why Porter's contract was not renewed in December. Board member Ron Kath said there are "many emotions" in the district among people who are unhappy with the board's decision.
Until the District 833 School Board gets further into 2012-13 budget talks, most board members say they aren't willing to increase class sizes by one-half student to save $741,000. The administration is recommending the class-size increase because there is a deadline at the end of March for determining the number of teachers needed next year. In preliminary budget talks, the board consensus is to hang on to as much of the district's reserve funds as possible because of the uncertainty of state funding.
Park High School's interim principal soon will be its permanent principal. The District 833 School Board on Thursday approved a contract allowing Dr. Craig Paul to continue in the position he's held since last July. Paul, who was recently honored for "distinguished service" by the Minnesota Association of Secondary Principals, succeeded Dr.
Some supporters of Superintendent Mark Porter were forced to stand as residents packed the District 833 School Board meeting room Thursday night to express anger about his firing. The turnout coincided with the board's decision to hire a consultant at $18,500 to lead the search for Porter's replacement. Board members in December voted not to renew Porter's contract on a 5-2 vote. Board Chairwoman Leslee Boyd and members David Kemper, Marsha Adou, Tracy Brunnette and Ron Kath voted not to renew the contract.
Molly Strande hopes the plans to expand the kindergarten annex at Liberty Ridge Elementary School in Woodbury get approved. Along with other parents in the Stonemill Farms development, she worked hard in 2008 to get all of the development into the school's attendance boundary so children would not be bussed to Bailey Elementary School. Strande, who has a child entering kindergarten this fall, said it's hard for children to change schools. "I don't want to move," she said. "I love the school.
School District 833 faces a $7.2 million deficit in its $157 million budget for next year school when this year's expenses and recently settled labor contracts are included in the projection. But the deficit drops if the district takes into account positive enrollment projections and a redirection of funds from an already fully funded retirement account, according to budget information discussed at a School Board workshop last Thursday. The board plans to use some of its cash on hand to balance the budget, while saving some undesignated funds to cover any future deficits.
South Washington County residents strongly questioned School Board members about their decision to replace Superintendent Mark Porter. A group of residents opposed to the decision turned out for a board workshop Thursday, criticizing board members for the process and saying the vote is not understood by the public. School Board policy does not allow the public to speak at workshop meetings, but board Chairwoman Leslee Boyd made an exception and took comments.
The District 833 School Board likely will hire a search firm to look for a new superintendent. The seven-member board met Thursday in a workshop to discuss the process to replace Mark Porter later this year. Board Chairwoman Leslee Boyd and member Ron Kath said they prefer to hire Ken Dragseth, from SchoolExecConnect, to conduct the search to replace Porter. SchoolExecConnect was the firm hired to conduct the search that resulted in hiring former superintendent Tom Nelson, and Dragseth's firm also assisted with an in-house process that resulted in hiring Porter in 2009. Boyd and Kath were
The District 833 School Board is moving toward expanding Liberty Ridge Elementary School in Woodbury. The decision would mean expanding a nearby former commercial building that now houses kindergarten and pre-school classes in order to cope with future overcrowding at the school. Enrollment at Liberty Ridge has increased by 220 students in two years, according to Mike Vogel, assistant to the superintendent for operations. The expansion proposal includes buying the leased space near the school and adding 12,500 square feet for $4.5 million. The district would finance two-thirds of the proje
The District 833 School Board is in a tight spot. The application for students to transfer to East Ridge High School from Park and Woodbury high school attendance boundaries doesn't state that students' siblings also would go to East Ridge. The district's policy to allow siblings to follow their older brothers and sisters applies only to kindergarten and the Gateway program in elementary school. When students applied to be transferred to East Ridge, they were approved on a case by case process. If the board allows siblings to follow, East Ridge High School, which is recommended to be close