New School Board members sworn in

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January 10, 2013
By: Dylan Thomas
New board member Tracine Asberry.
By Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas
Alberto Monserrate to serve a second term as board chair.

New School Board members Josh Reimnitz and Tracine Asberry, who both represent Southwest districts, were sworn-in Jan. 9 during the board’s annual meeting.

Also taking the oath of office were returning board members Carla Bates, now in her second term, and Kim Ellison, who was elected to the North Side’s District 2 this fall after being appointed one year ago to fill a board vacancy.

Later in the meeting, board members unanimously voted for Alberto Monserrate to serve a second term as board chair. Other officers elected were: Jenny Arneson, vice chair; Richard Mammen, clerk; and Rebecca Gagnon, treasurer.

The board moved into a brand new meeting room this summer when the new Minneapolis Public Schools headquarters opened at 1250 W. Broadway Ave., and the annual meeting marked the first time every seat on the dais was filled.

In 2008, Minneapolis voters approved a plan to expand the board to nine members from seven and to elect six of those board members by Park Board district. Previously, all board members served at-large.

Voters elected representatives from three odd-numbered districts on the east side of the city in 2010. This fall, they chose Ellison, Reimnitz and Asberry to represent districts 2, 4 and 6, respectively, completing the transition begun four years earlier.

Before the swearing-in ceremony, the board honored departing one-term member Jill Davis, who did not seek re-election this fall.

Davis received the “doorknob plaque” presented to board members at their last meeting. The tradition began about three decades ago under former Superintendent Richard Green, and the doorknob “is a show of appreciation for those who have opened the doors of learning for the children of Minneapolis Public Schools,” Monserrate explained.

Mayor R.T. Rybak, whose endorsement of Reimnitz may have helped the young nonprofit executive eke out a win in a close race against Patty Wycoff of Bryn Mawr, was among the local dignitaries in the audience. Rybak addressed the board at the end of the swearing-in ceremony and challenged them to be “exceptional” leaders.

“Fantastic things are happening all across this district, in every part of town,” he said. “The challenge we have is the experience is uneven, and that unevenness falls along other fault lines, on race and economy, and that is intolerable.” 

Target funds library upgrades

Target is paying for additional upgrades to the media centers at eight Minneapolis schools previously awarded library “makeovers” from the Minneapolis-based retailer, the district reported in January.

The Target School Library Makeover program paid for new books, carpeting, furniture and technology at each of the schools between 2008 and 2011. Now, Target is awarding additional $15,000 grants to each school to pay for further improvements, like new shelving and technology upgrades.

The schools are Anne Sullivan, Anishinabe, Bancroft, Bryn Mawr, Nellie Stone Johnson, Pillsbury, Sheridan and Waite Park.

Summer food program sponsors needed

Local organizations can apply now to host a United States Department of Agriculture Summer Food Service Program meal site this summer.

The USDA program provides free snacks and full meals at various locations in Minneapolis and other cities to help bridge the so-called “nutrition gap” during the summer months, when students who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches no longer have access to those meals. Faith-based organizations, nonprofits, schools and parks departments are all eligible to sponsor meal sites.

The Minnesota Department of Education reports 2.2 million meals were served to Minnesota children through the program last summer, a 12-percent increase over 2011. There were 586 meal sites across the state sponsored by 134 organizations.

For more information, go to the state education department’s website, education.state.mn.us, and type “Summer Food Service Program” into the search box.

School finances explained

AchieveMpls is hosting a discussion on public schools finances for the January edition of its Our City, Our Schools series of community forums.

The discussion is meant to give an overview of Minneapolis Public School finances and funding sources. District Budget Director Sarah Snapp and Washburn High School Principal Carol Markham-Cousins are the scheduled speakers.

Small group discussions on district and school finances and budgeting priorities will follow the presentations from Snapp and Markham-Cousins. Attendees are encouraged to share their own ideas or concerns about how the district uses its resources.

The event runs 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at Washburn High School, 201 W. 49th St. The event is free and refreshments will be served.

Reach Dylan Thomas at dthomas@mnpubs.com.