The St. Paul school board narrowly approved a new contract Tuesday that keeps armed police officers stationed in its schools for at least one more year. Under terms nearly identical to last year’s deal, the schools will pay $700,000 for the services of seven school resource officers. The City of St. Paul’s share is $100,000. The contract is several months late. The parties have been working under last year’s expired contract for the first half of this school year. The district had hoped to negotiate more favorable financial terms and a multi-year agreement. Instead, they settled for a one-year deal on a 4-3 vote. “I thought that this year might be different,” board chairwoman Zuki Ellis said. “I’m feeling really annoyed that this is the place where we’re at.” She voted against the contract, along with Marny Xiong and Jeanelle Foster. “We need to see what other options we have, because of the trauma and experience of our … [Read more...] about Armed police officers will remain stationed in St. Paul schools, for now
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St. Paul Public Schools will invest heavily in its middle schools and push all students to explore careers as part of a new five-year strategic plan. Superintendent Joe Gothard detailed specific initiatives for his “SPPS Achieves” plan on Tuesday in his 18th month on the job. Other focus areas include improving school culture and making instruction more culturally relevant. Using district and state tests, surveys, college data and more, the district will track its progress over 38 metrics, each with its own 2024 target. “We believe there’s incredible growth potential and we’ll have no problem resetting our goals more aggressively,” Gothard said, calling the goals “attainable and aspirational.” Middle school changes will start next fall with reversing budget cuts implemented in 2016. Students in grades 6-8 will again have three elective courses, instead of two, and teachers will have designated collaboration time during the school day. … [Read more...] about Better middle schools, career exploration key to new St. Paul school strategic plan
St. Paul and the St. Paul Pioneer Press editorial board have traditionally supported special tax levies for St. Paul Schools, on the reasoning that as our public schools go, so goes the city. And that our elected school board is directly accountable to St. Paul voters, who are not afraid to change course when need be. This year’s levy proposal — larger and longer than usual, and with the backdrop of construction-plan surprises, insufficient progress on closing gaps among white students and students of color, teacher-union leadership that at times seems confused about who its allies are, and a pile-up of tax increases from local entities — is more difficult to swallow. Still, our traditional reasoning holds: It’s best to swallow hard and vote yes. And then raise a little hell — about financial controls, clarity of purpose, clarity of measurement toward that purpose, clarity about what the money is for and where it goes and what it does. The school district … [Read more...] about Editorial: Swallow hard to vote yes for St. Paul school levy
Eye-popping tax proposals and a half-baked strategic plan could make Tuesday’s St. Paul Public Schools referendum an unusually hard sell in a city that’s historically opened its wallets to support public education. The four St. Paul school levy increases since 2000 each won between 56 percent and 62 percent approval from voters. Tuesday’s vote could be closer, judging by the results of a May survey commissioned by the school board. It found 58 percent of respondents were willing to pay an extra $125 a year in school taxes, while just 44 percent would pay $150. The school board settled on an $18.6 million tax hike that would cost the average homeowner $135 a year plus inflation. Rosilyn Carrol, a school board member from 1976 to 1983, hasn’t decided how she’ll vote. She’s been frustrated by the quality of education on the city’s East Side and doesn’t see a clear plan for improvement, with or without higher taxes. “To do the same old … [Read more...] about Will higher taxes, unclear goals doom St. Paul schools referendum?
A girl at a St. Paul elementary school noticed a suspicious man lurking near their playground earlier this week and told some of her classmates. As the man started heading in her direction, her friends huddled around her, and the man ran away, authorities say. That’s part of the narrative included in a criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court on Thursday. Yeng Houa Moua was charged with one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct as well as additional counts of making threats of violence and fifth-degree drug possession for his alleged actions Wednesday evening. Police officers went to Phalen Lake Elementary on 1089 Cypress Street about 6 p.m. after receiving a report that a man had been spotted watching children on the playground with his hands down his pants, the complaint said. A 10-year-old student told officers he saw a man thrusting his hips at kids, prompting he and others to approach him. The man threatened to rape and kill the students if they got … [Read more...] about Man near St. Paul school with hands down his pants threatens students who confront him, charges say