Education beat: Recount set in close South Washington school board race

The question of who will fill the last of the five school board seats up for election this fall in the South Washington County School District is expected to be decided next week.

Molly Lutz, a middle-school PTO president who had finished just five votes short of a tie for the final four-year seat on the Nov. 5 ballot, exercised her right this week to seek a free recount.

The recount will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Washington County Government Center.

Lutz finished just behind Sharon Van Leer, a multicultural affairs specialist, in a field that included 17 candidates.

At a candidate forum Oct. 22, Van Leer and Lutz were united in their concern about school district transportation decisions.

The top vote-getter among four-year candidates was challenger Katie Schwartz, a full-time student and stay-at-home mom who said the board needed new faces and new ideas. Incumbents Tracy Brunnette and Katy McElwee-Stevens captured four-year seats and incumbent Laurie Johnson won the two-year term.

Anthony Lonetree

 

St. Paul schools to close preschool program at Randolph Heights Elementary

The St. Paul School District said this week it will discontinue a preschool program at Randolph Heights Elementary in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood.

In a letter to the school community, Sharon Freeman, assistant superintendent of elementary schools, said that the district’s plan to focus preschool services on children who need special-education or English language services and whose families are low-income makes it likely that “very few” students from the area would qualify for such a program.

“Discontinuing a popular prekindergarten program is not something we take lightly, and we are sorry for any extra challenges this may cause your family,” Freeman added. “We will be working with individual families to help with this transition — identifying other pre-K resources when possible.”

According to 2012-13 student data, 23 percent of the students at Randolph Heights qualified for free or reduced-price lunch, compared with 73 percent districtwide. Three percent of its students were English language learners, compared with 30 percent across the city.

An informational meeting about the move will be held at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 25 at Randolph Heights, 348 Hamline Av. S.

Anthony Lonetree

7 metro high schools are rated among the nation’s best

Forty-five Minnesota high schools have been named among the 2,000 best public high schools in the U.S., according to rankings released by the Daily Beast website.

Edina High School was the highest-ranked school in the state at No. 121. Seven area schools made the top 500: Eastview High School (302) and Mounds View High School (381), Eden Prairie High School (418), Mahtomedi High School (431), Eagan High School (452), Orono High School (453) and St. Anthony Village High School (487).

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