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The Duluth school district is set to fall into statutory operating debt if it doesn't make some quick cuts to its budget — likely more than $1 million. An independent audit presented to the Duluth School Board Monday showed that the district has no reserve unrestricted cash, and in fact, is about $486,000 in the red. The Minnesota Department of Education will step in if that deficit reaches 2.5 percent of annual expenses, or around $2 million in Duluth's case, warned Deborah Medlin, who presented the audit on behalf of accounting firm Wipfli.
After running a couple of laps, Proctor High School freshman Carly Barnstorf lay down on the gym floor, exhausted. Seniors John Pioro and Cody Hampton paused their own laps to check in with her. "You OK, Carly?" Hampton asked, as the students took her hands and helped her up.
In her time as an early-childhood educator, Becky Gamache has worked with families experiencing trauma.
The Duluth School Board voted against a measure Tuesday night that would have triggered a plan to alter the way the school district uses a kind of state funding meant to help low-performing students.
Billy's life in pictures was laid out on the floor between him and a couple of other students: Billy skydiving and blowing out candles on a birthday cake. Pictures of his newborn niece and his family at a Christmas celebration. "You see me, you prejudge; every person does," said Billy, an inmate at the Northeast Regional Corrections Center in Saginaw. "But you see these pictures. He has a family, he travels. Once you start looking at it from this perspective, you start saying there is a lot more we can do as a society."
There are only a few desks in Cindy Nelson's first-grade class at Hermantown Elementary School, and they're not lined up in rows. Kids pick from those, along with scoop rockers, wobbly stools, cushions for lap desks and kneeling tables, beanbags, yoga balls and mats and camp chairs. Those are their seats to read or do their work. Nelson started out small a couple of years ago with alternative seating in her class, and this year went all in.
Matthew Campbell could not tell his parents he was depressed. It was only a little over a year ago that the Duluth East High School senior began treatment for depression, after several years of feeling unhappy, which turned to self-loathing and ultimately, to thoughts of suicide. The breaking point came during a night when his parents discovered the varsity soccer goalie and student government leader was failing three classes. He broke down crying in front of them, but wasn't able to share his struggles. "I couldn't get the words out," he said.
The cost of the Duluth school district's $1 million playground mulch replacement project has been reduced by about $48,000.
Lincoln Park Middle School eighth grader Brooke Thompson loves the "clicking" sound potatoes make when they're pulled out of the ground. She finds the act of gardening therapeutic and the process satisfying, she said, as she tended her school's raised beds. "I think of the potatoes, and how they were made by one potato," Thompson said, marveling at the amount being harvested one sunny day in October.
Denfeld High School has a new antidote this year to address persistent issues with attendance and achievement, and some teachers already are seeing results. It's called BARR — Building Assets, Reducing Risks — and it was created by a St. Louis Park, Minn., school counselor in 1998. It's grown into a national model, and is now in more than 80 schools in 13 states. The federal government has invested in it with multiple grants.