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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Todd Hyland told graduates their lives would be like riding a roller coaster, full of ups and downs. "Your safety bar is firmly in place," said Hyland, the teacher and guest speaker elected by Park High School's Class of 2006 to talk at commencement ceremonies.
It appears District 833 officials will add $2 million to next year's budget to enhance education.
They have been keeping secrets for weeks. Cottage Grove Elementary School staff and students have been busy putting together a special send off program for Principal Rick Houston, who is retiring after 40 years as an educator.
There will not be any changes in lunch prices when District 833 opens next fall, according to Food Service Director Barb Osthus. The food service annual budget report was approved last week by the School Board. Lunches for elementary students will remain at $1.70 with junior and senior high lunches at $2. Woodbury High School lunches are $2.60. Osthus said she favors keeping lunch prices steady to make sure most families can afford them. "Why are Woodbury's lunches higher?" asked Board Member Jim Gelbmann. Students wanted more food, a desert and larger hot dogs.
The Park High School graduating class of 2006 will celebrate the end of its public school career at 7 p.m., Friday, June 2. As has been the Park tradition since District Stadium was built, ceremonies will be held outdoors with ample room for friends and families.
With $11.4 million above what is needed to fund education for next year, School District 833 officials are faced with how to spend the money in a responsible way. When times are tough for education funding, school boards have a hard time cutting items to make sure the district stays out of the red ink. On the other hand, when times are better, it has the same problem in reverse.
Not all of the plans for Park High School's prom came off, but those who attended seemed not to notice. All of Park's proms in the past 15 years have been held at First Bank Center in St. Paul, usually in April when weather tends to be chilly, a challenge for young women in formal gowns with bare shoulders. This year, prom organizers, supervised by art teacher Gretchen Romane, chose a boat cruise on the St. Croix River as the backdrop for prom. The weather, however, was similar to past proms, with cool breezes and morning rain.
Some people assume students identified by school officials as "gifted and talented" do not have difficulties and do not need special help such as students who struggle with reading and math do. That assumption is far from reality. Gifted students need help, too, but in different ways than their classmates. Crestview Elementary School first-year teacher Jessica Mace found three projects to help focus gifted kids and spur them to function in cooperative ways. Gifted kids find many tasks easy. They are often the first to raise their hands in class to answer teacher questions.
The Washington County Board gave Sheriff Steve Pott the green light last week to hire five full-time dispatchers and a public safety answering point coordinator. The dispatchers will take care of the 15 percent increase in calls expected when the Cottage Grove dispatch center closes and the duties are transferred to Washington County. It's proposed that the five new positions with the county will be filled by displaced Cottage Grove dispatchers. "All five came to the department for orientation," Pott said.
With few questions from Washington County officials, a revised Lake Elmo Park Reserve Plan was approved last week and is on its way to the Metropolitan Council for approval. Plans to revise and amend the park plan, originally done in 1978, have been in the works for a year after the county hired Sanders Wacker Bergly Inc.