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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The District 833 School Board has signed off on $2 million in budget cuts for the 2013-14 school year. The district plans to raise class sizes by an average of one student as it cuts 22.42 teaching positions, including some teaching specialists, to save $1.5 million. The board also approved increasing walking distances at secondary schools. The middle school walking distance will increase from 1 mile to 1.5 miles. High school students living less than 2 miles from their building won't have busing; the current high school walking distance is 1.5 miles.
It likely will be weeks, if not months, before a decision is made on the future of Crosswinds Arts and Science School. Minnesota Management and Budget said last week that it won't approve any plan to take over the Crosswinds building until it sees whether lawmakers pass legislation this spring that would give Crosswinds to the Perpich Center for Arts Education. An attorney said the state budget agency's position trumps the Perpich bill in the House that was amended to remove an April 1 deadline by which Perpich had to receive legislative approval in order to get the Crosswinds building. Per
Parents attending a public review of proposed School District 833 budget cuts told administrators they are opposed to extending the walking distances for secondary school students. At Cottage Grove Middle School Tuesday, Superintendent Keith Jacobus reviewed the district's hybrid $2 million budget-cutting plan that would include $160,000 in savings by adding one-half mile to the one-mile walking distance at middle schools and going from one-and-a-half miles to two miles at the district's high schools. The budget plan, to be acted on by the School Board at its meeting Thursday evening, March
School District 833 fifth- and eighth-graders next month will take the second year of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment III tests online. Students, traditionally in 10th grade, when they take final exams in biology, will also take their science tests.
If you were in chess club in middle school and moved on to play "Dungeons and Dragons," "Pokemon," "Magic: The Gathering" or "YoGoOh," you qualify to join Park High School's Nerd Club. The word "nerd" appeared in the Dr.
The gap is closing now, but several years ago sixth-grade boys were as many as 12 points below the girls on Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment reading tests. The gap continued into seventh grade. By the time both groups got to 10th grade, there was no difference. I wondered why.
With most of the Park High Robotics Team graduating last year, it's a whole new ball game. Last year, the Park Data Bits robot hurled basketballs at targets in various competitions, ending with a state title at the first Minnesota State High School League-sponsored competition. This year, the robot is tossing Frisbees. After a state title, there were many more students interested in the robotics team this year. With about 20 new members, it was like "herding cats," said Jim Huber, head technical advisor for the team.
The new Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) reading tests this spring will be longer and trickier, but Grey Cloud Elementary School and other District 833 students won't be ambushed. They're being prepared for a new focus. When the Minnesota Department of Education reading standards were released about two years ago, District 833 schools were already preparing.
When the District 833 School Board meets on March 21, the three budget-cutting options that have been discussed over the past month will be off the table. Instead, a compromise "hybrid" plan is getting board members' support and will accomplish a needed $2 million budget cut. If approved, the majority of the money saved -- $1.5 million -- will come by cutting 22.5 positions in the instructional area, though not necessarily classroom teachers.
AmeriCorps reading volunteer Dominique Edwards struggled with reading when she was in elementary school, so she knows what children are going through when they need help. Edwards is one of the volunteers who are in every elementary school in School District 833 to provide one-on-one help to struggling readers in kindergarten through third grade. The federal AmeriCorps program is sometimes called "the domestic Peace Corps" because volunteers are recruited to help in primary grades across the country. Edwards, a 2008 Park High School graduate, is an Inver Hills Community College student who's