Richfield Public Schools has selected Steven Unowsky as its next superintendent.
Unowsky is currently an assistant superintendent with St. Paul Public Schools. He will replace the retiring Robert Slotterback who has served as superintendent since 2008.
Prior to his current position in St. Paul, he was the Director of Leadership Development and Academic Support as well as an elementary and middle school principal in the district.
He has also served as an assistant principal in Saudi Arabia and as an assistant principal and teacher at Annunciation School in Minneapolis.
"He's a high energy guy who clearly has high expectations for himself as well as others," said Board Chairman Todd Nollenberger of Unowsky.
Unowsky is currently enrolled in an Educational Doctorate program at St. Mary’s University; completed administrative licensure programs at St. Mary’s as well as at Minnesota State University, Mankato; and holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
School leaders say they hope to have a contract with Unowsky finalized in coming weeks.
Inver Grove Heights is looking for someone to fill the shoes of Superintendent Deirdre Wells after she stepped down last month from the district's top spot.
In an email written to staff on Jan. 10, Wells said she was resigning as of June 30, 2014 "to focus on the next arena of opportunities and challenges."
She held the position for nine years, and in that time made many positive contributions, especially in the areas of curriculum and getting the district's $24.75 million bond referendum passed in November 2013, said Cindy Nordstrom, school board member.
The district has already posted the job and is working with a search firm to name the next superintendent by the end of May, according to Nordstrom.
Key attributes of the new superintendent will be a willingness to collaborate and promote community as well as strong communication skills, Nordstrom said.
"We think we're in a really good place right now and we want to continue moving forward," Nordstrom said.
Wells is currently a finalist for the superintendent position in the Richfield district. Richfield's new superintendent will be named Wednesday night.
About 400 Osseo teachers showed up at the school board meeting this week to urge administrators to make a better contract offer.
Members of Education Minnesota - Osseo have been working without a contract since July. They are asking for a salary increase and better health insurance.
They say the district will lose its top talent to other districts if it doesn't increase it's current salary offer.
"It can't be another zero percent increase," said Kelly Wilson, union president.
Teresa Lunt, the school board's chairwoman, characterized the talks to this point as "respectful" and "professional."
"I feel we can reach an agreement that will be acceptable to all," she told the teachers Tuesday.
Union officials say the district has offered them a pay increase of 1.75 percent for the 2014-2015 school year. The district proposed holding salaries flat for this school year.
The union has proposed a salary increase of 3 percent for the 2014-2015 school year. Teacher say they have lost about 5 percent in salary over the past four years when adjusted for the cost of living.
Both sides are scheduled to meet Friday. If no progress is made at that meeting, negotiations will enter mediation, union officials say.
Photo by Education Minnesota
Wayzata voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved $109 million in bond funding to build a high school addition, an elementary and related infrastructure improvements.
The proposal passed by 3,818 votes to 1,107 votes against, according to unofficial results. Voters also approved renewing the district's technology levy.
Construction of 172,000 square-feet of high school addition is set to begin in late 2014. Once finished, the renovated high school will be able to house 3,900 students. At its current capacity, it is already the largest high school in Minnesota.
Initially, the bond proposal did not include a new elementary but a change in enrollment projections prompted district officials to add that to the proposal in early 2013.
The need for more elementary space was further amplified by legislators decision to fund all-day kindergarten. School leaders estimate they will need 14-15 new classrooms to accommodate the influx in kindergarten students.
The proposed elementary will be built somewhere north of Highway 55.
District officials expect both the new elementary and the high school expansion to be open to students in the fall of 2016.
The newly approved plan also calls for spending about $13 million in infrastructure improvements. Those include: improving entrance security at all buildings and upgrading energy saving options.
That work is expected to begin this summer.
The owner of a average $333,900 home can expect see a tax increase of about $10 a month as a result of the referendum. There will be no tax increase for the renewed technology levy.
Frustrated by gridlock at the bargaining table, more than 400 Anoka-Hennepin teachers and supporters wearing red and waving signs lined the hallway leading to the school board chambers Monday evening.
Negotiations have gone on for more than eight months. A mediator is now working with both sides in hopes of reaching a deal for a two-year contract, running from July 2013 to June 2015.
Anoka Hennepin Education Minnesota, the union representing the teachers, has proposed a 2.5 percent raise in each year and no change to benefits.
According to the union, the district’s last offer, in December, was for a raise of 1 to 1.25 percent in the first year, depending on experience, and of 1 to 1.55 percent in the second year, and for teachers to pay more of future increases in health-care costs.
Union president Julie Blaha said that, in light of previous wage concessions and improved student performance, teachers deserve more. About 60 percent of Anoka-Hennepin teachers haven’t had a raise in four years, according to the union.
“It is time for serious offers that make real progress toward a settlement,” Blaha told the school board during open comments time at the regularly scheduled meeting. “It is time to budget in a way that puts people before fund balances. It is time to recognize the significant progress we are making for our students. We are doing our part. It is time for you to do yours.”
Blaha characterized the district's current contract offer as “one of the worst settlements in the state.”
The board chambers erupted in applause and cheers after Blaha spoke.
Anoka-Hennepin School Board Chairman Tom Heidemann responded with a simple, "Thank you."
Last week in St. Paul, teachers reached a tentative settlement with their district after threatening to take a strike vote. St. Paul teachers negotiated an 8.6 percent wage-and-benefit increase over two years. Pay increases are 2.25 percent in year one and 2 percent in year two.
In January, Anoka-Hennepin teachers agreed to only do what work can be completed during the school day and is required by their contract. The district’s nearly 3,000 teachers stopped doing work after hours, including grading papers they haven’t graded during the day, checking e-mails, tweaking lesson plans and voluntarily attending after-school events. It’s called a “work-to-rule” action.