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Class Act

Star Tribune writers tracking education issues

Bloomington schools turning 100 years old

Bloomington Public Schools is 100 years old, and throwing a party to celebrate.
The district festivity is Friday evening at the Doubletree Hotel in Bloomington. Former superintendents, principals, teachers and community members will be there.
The guest list includes Evelyn Melum, a district alumnae who's nearly as old as Bloomington schools — 97. She became its first special education teacher (then called "special class"), and went on to teach for 40 years.
Melum's commute to school include a walk through a forest and a hop on a motorized wooden school bus.
Back then, school held grades 1 to 12. Now, Bloomington schools is home to 15 traditional schools and more than 10,000 students. 
Melum retired at 70, and now lives at Presbyterian Homes of Bloomington. That's also the site of Bloomington's first school, which she attended.
The event features a dinner and music.
When: Friday, May 19
Tickets: $50 per person. 

St. Paul board member opts out of re-election bid

The St. Paul school board has taken some important votes in the past year, but few rival the suspense accompanying a decision last summer on whether to close Galtier Community School.

Members announced their votes one by one, and when it came time for Chue Vue to declare where he stood, the tally was 3-to-3.

Vue voted "no" to the closure proposal, and Galtier supporters, having realized a longshot bid to save their school, cheered.

Nearly a year later, Vue and colleague John Brodrick, who also was on the winning side of the Galtier vote, are up for re-election. While Brodrick announced last weekend that he will seek a fifth term, Vue said Friday night that he is not running again -- at least not in 2017.

He said that after much thought he's decided to wait for another time when he feels he might have greater impact as a board member.

On the same night as the Galtier rescue, the board voted, 5-to-2, to oust former Superintendent Valeria Silva, with Vue and former Chairwoman Jean O'Connell in opposition.

O'Connell, citing what she deemed to be the "disrespectful, destructive and cynical" nature of the board, announced then that she was quitting. Vue thanked her publicly for having helped him personally when he first took office in 2014 and said that he was sorry to see her go.

On Friday, Vue said that the board has come a long way since that night in building "some positive vibes here" and he is optimistic about people rallying around incoming Superintendent Joe Gothard.

As for the election, board candidates are courting DFL activists for support this weekend at caucuses and ward conventions in a run-up to the city convention in June.

Three seats are up for election; they now are held by Brodrick, Vue and Jeanelle Foster.

Foster won election last year to fill the remainder of O'Connell's term, and is running again. Also vying for DFL endorsement are Brodrick, Eduardo Barrera and Marny Xiong.

Vue said that he would like to see more diversity on the board, but is not ready to back anyone publicly.

His decision not to run came in the same week that Clayton Howatt, PTO president at Galtier Community School, appeared before the board to pitch a vision for the school calling in part for greater investment on the district's part.

Said Vue, "I think there's a lot of potential in that community ... I'm crossing my fingers that it's going to work out in the long run."

On Saturday, Howatt took to social media to praise Brodrick as one of Galtier's earliest and strongest supporters, adding: "If anyone is going to your ward caucus this weekend, please lend him your support, and tell him Galtier sent you."