Former Washburn High School Principal Carol Markham-Cousins has been assigned to run a tiny high school operating inside Hennepin County's Juvenile Detention Center for next school year.
Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson announced the assignment on Wednesday in releasing a list of principal assignments for next school year.
The district said that Markham-Cousins has accepted the assignment at a school for pretrial suspects. The school opened the year with 41 students and was down to 19 at last count. The facility can hold 87 juveniles.
She would replace retiring Larry Lucio, who was assigned by the district to the school, known as Stadium View, in 2007 after he was abruptly pulled from leading Edison High School during the school year. Lucio is retiring after more than 40 years as an educator.
Markham-Cousins also was reassigned abruptly during the school year. Johnson removed her in mid-April after a difficult year that culminated with a student walkout in support of the school's athletic director, Daniel Pratt. The district has said that investigations involving both are still proceeding.
The Stadium View assignment will put Markham-Cousins back with the type of underdog student that she fought hard to educate in her turnaround role at Washburn. One third of students qualify for special education and nealry all meet the federal poverty threshold for school lunch. She'll supervise a school staff of about 15, compared to 118 at Washburn.
Other principals appointed Wednesday to fill retirement vacancies include Ronald Salazar, Folwell School Performing Arts Magnet, who has been instructional leader at Minnesota Transitions charter school, succeeding Sharon Engel; Aaron Drevlow, Lake Harriet Community School, who has been an assistant principal at Stillwater's Red Pony Student Center, following Mary Rynchek; Andree James, Lyndale Community School, where she has been interim principal since January following the retirement of Ossie Brooks James; and Emily Lilja Palmer, Sanford Middle School, an assistant principal at Richfield Middle School, following Meredith Davis.
Abdi Warsame has the DFL endorsement in the Sixth Ward, but faces a tough challenge unseating incumbent Robert Lilligren. Alondra Cano won the party nod in the Ninth Ward, putting her in the driver’s seat for the job Gary Schiff is vacating to run for mayor.
The Somali-born Warsame is the best bet for a foreign-born candidate to win election to the City Council since Jamaican-American Don Samuels did so in 2003. Samuels won’t be back next year because he’s running for mayor instead.
Cano was born in Minnesota but she could also claim to be an immigrant. She was born to undocumented farm workers laboring in Litchfield, Minn., and lived there until age 2, when her family moved back to Chihuahua, Mexico. She returned at 10, when her parents returned to outstate Minnesota to work in poultry factories. She learned English in school, and mostly transitioned out of bilingual instruction within three years.
Samuels was the first immigrant on the council since Keith Ford, elected to two year terms in 1973 and 1975. Ford was 13 when his family left England, and 17 when it moved south from Winnipeg. He was elected 12 years later. Late Mayor Charles Stenvig tried to make Ford’s ancestry an issue during a 1976 budget dispute in which he compared the 10th Ward alderman to King George III and sniped that “England’s gain is the United States’ loss.”
Ford missed by two years overlapping with the previous immigrant on the council, “Pumpkin Joe” Greenstein, who served from 1961-1971 and was born in Poland. The North Side merchant earned his nickname by giving away thousands of pumpkins each Halloween.
It’s been 67 years, since the late 1940s, that two immigrants served on the council together. That factoid comes courtesy of Tony Hill, the political scientist and student of municipal history.
The most recent of two foreign-born mayors was Swedish-rooted Eric Hoyer, who served 1949-1957.
Sweden leads as the birthplace of foreign-born council members with 25, followed by 22 from Germany, including Prussia, and 19 from Canada.
The Minneapolis school board already has one immigrant and one migrant seated, with Somali-born Hussein Samatar and also Alberto Monserrate, who was born in the territory of Puerto Rico, which gave him U.S. citizenship
Photo: "Pumpkin Joe" Greenstein
She’s no longer principal at Washburn High School, but Carol Markham-Cousins will be making a cameo appearance at graduation next month.
That allows her to see off the crop of seniors who rose through Washburn under her tutelage, and gives the school some closure after her abrupt removal in April.
In response to a Star Tribune inquiry, the district said – after some confusion -- that Markham-Cousins’s signature will appear on diplomas and that she speak at the ceremony.
She was replaced on an interim basis by Craig Vana, a retired district administrator who has no previous connection to the school. That raised the question of whose name would be on student diplomas.
Markham-Cousins is working as a principal on special assignment, assisting the associate superintendents on projects, according to district spokeswoman Rachel Hicks. Those include serving as one of the principal representatives on a five-year enrollment project. assisting development of a high school Spanish Immersion program, working on high school schedule changes, and doing teacher observations to help some schools complete teacher evaluations.
A list of principal assignments for next school year is expected to be publicized this week.
This could have been a story about how the Minneapolis School District was prevented from demolishing one of its shuttered schools and wound up better than a million dollars richer.
Instead, the school board this week got a $1.175 million offer for Shingle Creek school, and said no thanks.
That leaves the district with a school at 5034 Oliver Av. N. that it doesn’t want, and would have to pay an estimated $280,000 to demolish.
What was the board thinking when it turned down the offer on a lopsided vote?
Board member Kim Ellison said she was concerned that the staff-recommended sale to Charter School Property Solutions could open the door to a poor-quality charter school moving in. The Nevada-based developer acts as the middleman for charter or private schools seeking a facility to buy or build, according to its web site.
“I need to have a high-performing school,” Ellison said afterward. She said she’s also working with the neighborhood group to set up a meeting, as it requested. That part of the normal process got skipped because the developer put a deadline of last Tuesday’s meeting on its offer. Normally, the board receives a recommendation at one meeting and votes at the next.
The neighborhood group of the same name has opposed demolition of the school. Last year, the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission voted to deny a demolition permit for the school. That was overturned in a district appeal to the City Council, but that was stayed for six months during which the district was to market the school. That’s what produced the offer.
The one-story school is 55 years old, and is without ductwork that was removed along with asbestos after the school closed in 2007. It’s the sole example in the Mill City of a 1950s design concept in which clusters of classrooms were linked by enclosed walkways. It’s also the city’s first example of a school location chosen collaboratively with park officials to take advantage of a nearby park. The school also played a role in desegregating schools in the late 1960s, when it received the largest shifts of black students.
The city marketed the building without success several years ago. “I was surprised to see an offer emerged at that price,” Mark Bollinger, the district’s chief administrative officer, said. But the spurned buyer put a deadline on its offer because of the lead time needed to move a school there by the time school starts. Larry Rieder, its president, predicted in an e-mail that the school will remain empty for another year.
“No school is going to buy the property in mid-year. We like the property and may take another run at it next year,” he wrote. That assumes that it’s still standing, of course.
By Brian Arola
Minneapolis has selected a German-based company to spearhead a car sharing experiment that hopes to attract more riders using the city's on-street parking spots.
Car2Go, a subsidiary of German auto-manufacturer Daimler AG, won the contract over competitors Hertz on Demand, Hourcar and Zipcar. Car2Go does not currently have a Minneapolis presence, but maintains operations in San Diego, Washington D.C. and Miami.
Hourcar, which is based in Minneapolis, sent an e-mail blast after the hearing urging its customers to contact the City Council about Car2Go exclusively using on-street parking. The company said that it has had "two years of discussion" with the city about using the curbside spots.
"We know that on-street reserved parking for shared vehicles from multiple operators (including car2go) is perfectly successful in cities like Denver, Seattle, Washington D.C., and Toronto," the e-mail said. "Minneapolis should utilize its right-of-way to maximize benefits to everyone and that means ensuring people have access to as many green and affordable car-sharing options as possible."
The City Council's Transportation and Public Works Committee approved the Car2Go staff recommendation at their meeting Tuesday. It still needs approval from the full council later this month.
Atif Saeed, the city’s parking systems manager, said a six-person panel reviewed written and oral presentations before deciding on Car2Go. The company’s large fleet of Smart Cars, which Daimler manufactures, and inexpensive rates scored highly in the process, Saeed said.
“There’s no monthly fee so you’re actually paying the incremental cost of when you use the vehicles,” he said.
So far, none of the fleet of 250 Smart Cars Car2Go will provide for the project will be electric, which some council members said they’d like to see.
“I think if this program can help move us in a direction where we are putting a critical level of infrastructure in place so we’re attracting the electric vehicle market to this city and this region, that’s a good thing,” said City Council Member Robert Lilligren.
Photo from Car2Go Facebook page
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