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The Duluth school district has set a new price for the long-empty former Central High School.
Esko native Micaila Hey, known for her warmth and eagerness to help others, took her own life in January by overdosing on pure fentanyl, a powerful and often deadly opioid. Days later, Hey's funeral was the scene of another overdose, when a friend nearly died while sitting among others during the service. Quick action by an attending emergency responder resulted in her being revived in a back room by the overdose antidote Narcan. "Instead of being angry," said Hey's mother, Rachel Colombe, "I channeled Micaila and urged her to get back into treatment."
Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed an additional $19 million in special education funding for next year, as such expenses rise throughout the state. His plan would increase spending by $22 million the following year. Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said Thursday that rising costs limit opportunities to all students, and create constraints on programs. The proposed $19 million increase, she said, would contain growth and provide some relief. "It will directly impact every student in those districts," Cassellius said.
The Duluth school district is working with the state human rights department to address its discipline disparities. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced last month that students of color were disciplined disproportionately throughout the state, following an analysis of 2015-16 suspension and expulsion data. The department said it would work with 43 districts and charter schools in particular on developing corrective action plans.
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler will recommend a $50,000 raise for UMD Chancellor Lendley Black next month. The increase is expected to go before the University of Minnesota Board of Regents during a May meeting, via a contract amendment, and would bring Black's total pay to $412,989. Why now, as UMD works to address a $5.4 million budget shortfall and deals with the loss of a lawsuit that has it paying off nearly $4 million to a former hockey coach?
School districts throughout Minnesota have spent years dealing with a delicate issue: an obligation to help pay for the needs of their resident special education students who opt to enroll in charter schools. The issue boiled over in Duluth last fall, when Duluth school district leaders characterized Duluth Edison Charter Schools as a major contributor to the district's multimillion dollar deficit. Duluth Edison fired back, accusing the district of using it as a scapegoat for a wider range of financial problems.
The impact of the $3.74 million awarded Thursday to Shannon Miller in her lawsuit against the University of Minnesota Duluth will not be shouldered by UMD alone. University of Minnesota attorney Tim Pramas said Friday that the U of M System owns an insurance company — Regents of the University of Minnesota Insurance Company — that spreads risk across all five campuses. Miller’s payment, pending any appeals, would come from that source.
The Duluth school district has shifted course legislatively to make the former Central High School property more attractive to potential buyers. Instead of tax incentives for buyers, it's hoping for up to $2 million from the state to tear the school down. The cost involved with demolition has been prohibitive to past interested developers, city and district officials have said.
Denfeld High School senior Autumn Pohl stayed home from school on March 5 following a school gun-violence threat made by another student. She wasn't alone; she was one of more than half of Denfeld's 800-plus students who didn't attend class that day. "It caused panic for a lot of people," Pohl said. "It hit close to home."
An analysis by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has found that students of color are disproportionately disciplined in most of the state's public schools. The disparities are a violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act because they "deny students of color and students with disabilities educational access and negatively impact academic achievement," the department said in a news release Friday.