The annual Minneapolis public school showcase of district and charter school choices happens on Jan. 25 at the Minneapolis Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Families can meet with representatives of public schools located in Minneapolis, learn about school choices for their area, and gain information about pre-kindergarten to high school programs.
Free parking paid for with vouchers from the fair will be available at city ramps at 1111 Marquette Av. and 1001 2nd Av. S. Shuttle service will be available from 10 locations in the city, with details posted on the district’s web site.
The deadline for submitting a school choice card for the 2014-2015 school year is Feb. 28.
A diversion pipe is being installed this week to route water being pumped into of the Calhoun-Isles lagoon, marking the second straight year that step has been taken to protect the lagoon's ice..
Minneapolis public works officials will contract for a 12-inch PVC pipe to be laid to divert water being pumped into the lagoon from an upscale apartment building t 1800 W. Lake St. The city recently sued the building's owner over the discharge of groundwater from the apartment site into a storm sewer entering the lagoon. The city argued that pumping was only temporarily permitted during the building's construction in 2011.
The diversion is an attempt to keep lagoon ice intact, according to Justin Long, an assistant parks superintendent. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announced the diversion project on Wednesday but said the city is handling the contracting. It said the work will be completed by Jan. 16, and remain for about eight weeks.
The diversion project will cost about $45,000, according to the city, and extend for almost one-quarter mile.
Long said the diversion of water will follow a different route to Lake Calhoun this year. Last year, the pipe generally followed the east retaining wall of the lagoon before crossing near Lake Street to the north retaining wall of Calhoun, where it was discharged along the north shoreline. The plan this year is to route the pipe across the lagoon to its west retaining wall and follow that to the lake's north retaining wall. That will keep the pipe in a shadier spot during daily peak temperatures.
Last year, the pipe laid on the ice and the 55-degree temperature of the water it carried melted the pipe into the ice. This year, the pipe will be raised a few inches atop spacers to prevent that, Long said.
The main issue with warm water entering the lagoon is that softer ice endangers skaters and skiers, according to the city's lawsuit. It sued to end the discharge and to recover costs of dealing with the issue, including installing the winter piping.
Long said that park officials conferred with representatives of the City of Lake Loppet ski festival about how to include a ramp over the pipe for skiers for event races that use the lagoon and adjoining lakes.
(Photo above: Chace Russell won a heat during ice-biking races held on the lagoon during the City of Lakes Loppet weekend.)
Three days after sustaining what was described as a major heart attack, ex-mayor R.T. Rybak left Abbott Northwestern Hospital on Tuesday to recuperate.
Former aide Andy Holmaas released a statement Tuesday afternoon that said that Rybak will recuperate for "the next couple of weeks" after his release. He will then begin working at his new job as executive director of Generation Next, an fledging organization focused on closing the achievement gap in Minneapolis and St. Paul schools.
Holmaas said that doctors have performed two angioplasties and inserted six stents since Rybak entered the hospital after experiencing shortness of breath and chest pains while cross-country skiing at Theodore Wirth Park in Golden Valley.
Megan O'Hara, Rybak's wife, said in a voice message Monday that Rybak will bypass his typical skate-ski long race in the City of Lakes Loppet ski race this year. But she added that he hopes to participate in the weekend's more sedate luminary loppet ski tour on Feb. 1, the night before the marquee 42-kilometer race. Rybak helped to found the ski festival as part of a silent sports series and serves on the loppet foundation board.
"The family is hoping others will learn from this experience making sure that everyone in their family is aware of their medical health history," Holmaas said in an e-mailed statement.
An angioplasty involves inserting a thin tube with a balloon through the blood stream and then inflating the balloon to reopen an artery closed or blocked by a buildup of plaque, and restore blood flow to the heart. A stent is a small tube that is inserted to buttress the inner wall of an artery.
(Photo above: Rybak skis in 2005 at City of Lakes Loppet events. Staff photo by Duane Braley0
The closure of Minneapolis schools for two days this week raises the issue of whether students will go longer into June to offset the loss of instructional time.
This year's calendar budgets two additional days in June to offset the possibility of snow days. The district had no immediate answer Monday on whether it will add back in June the loss of Monday and Tuesday due to extreme cold.
The extra days reserved on the district calendar to offset snow days fall on June 9 and 10. The last scheduled day of school for non-graduating students is June 6. Adding the days in June would shorten the break for students before the start of summer school to three school days rather than a full week. Making up the days in June would also further unbalance the two semesters of the school year, making the first semester 84 days and the second semester 92 days.
The district has some wiggle room because this year's calendar provides 176 student days in class. According to the district web site, it is required by state law only to offer a 170-day calendar. But Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius disputed that, citing a state law that requires 165 days.
However, the district administration has been emphasizing a longer school year in its contract negotiations with teachers, especially for students who are performing poorly. The flip side of that is that the additional days in June would not happen until after the state achievement tests on which the district wants student performance to improve.
Although snow days occur more frequently and usually are decided by local districts, Monday's closure was mandated by Gov. Mark Dayton, using his emergency powers under state law. But he left Tuesday's decision up to local school officials, and Minneapolis decided to remain closed.
The Minneapolis district has been somewhat snakebit by weather during this school year. It opened the school year a week before Labor Day, and was forced to close 27 schools without air-conditioning for two days after students and staff wilted in record heat. The district said on Tuesday that it will not require students who missed clases in August to make up the lost time in June.
The year 2013 certainly didn't lack for drama in Minneapolis, from a 35-candidate dogpile to replace R.T. Rybak as mayor to an unexpected gusher in downtown, and the standoff so far over the Southwest rail line. Remember the heat wave that forced a quick end to an early school start? The advent of a $1.1 million ash-removal tax?
Here's a top 10 list of 2013 Minneapolis headlines, plus a bonus track, compiled from suggestions by the folks who cover the city beat for the Star Tribune. You may add your comments on other notable events. We also list some notable residents who died this year.
So long, Rybakapolis: In an electoral shift as epochal as 2001, the city is getting a new mayor and a new council majority. Although the shift from R.T. Rybak to Betsy Hodges in the mayor’s chair appears more of a change of style than ideology, the council turnover is more seismic. The council’s median age will drop by 14 years, it will have three immigrants for the first time since 1947, and it brings a more pro-density stance. The massive turnover was sparked by mayoral ambitions, ward development issues, anti-stadium sentiment among some voters and the emergence of Somalis and other ethnic groups as political forces.
Due for a break: Property taxpayers got a break that hasn’t happened in 30 years when the City Council in December cut the 2014 levy by 1 percent at Rybak’s recommendation. The mayor attributed the tax break to the impact of the stadium deal, but the legislature also restored a healthy chunk of the state aid the city lost during the Tim Pawlenty years.
Goodbye Dome, hello park:: The largest city-assisted development deal since the razing and rebuilding of the north Minneapolis projects won year-end approval from the outgoing City Council. The $400 million project includes two office towers to be owned by Wells Fargo, apartments, retail, a parking ramp and a nearly two-block public park. Much of that will be on land to be sold by the Star Tribune, which plans to shift its offices to rental quarters. The city is on the hook for up to $65 million to build up to a 1,600-stall parking ramp, plus a basic park. And we hear a new stadium is being built nearby.
Target Center makeover: Target Center is headed for a makeover to the tune of $97 million, with the city’s share coming from a shift in the use of city-generated sales taxes. The money will improve the building’s public spaces, upgrade technology and overhaul the facade. The city, which purchased the building in the mid-1990s, also is committed to $50 million in ongoing capital costs. The Timberwolves contribute $43 million and the arena’s operator another $5 million.
Hear that lonesome whistle blow: The fight over routing of trains through the Kenilworth corridor of Minneapolis set off alarms from the suburbs to the governor’s office. Minneapolis wants existing freight trains to be re-routed out of the corridor and through St. Louis Park, while Kenilworth residents have raised questions about the routing of the Southwest light-rail line through their area. There’s a city-suburban split, with debate over the impacts of the project on the lagoon connecting Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake. Gov. Mark Dayton endorsed a 90-day halt to further study impacts on the lakes and lagoon and to exhaust other alternatives for re-routing freight.
Deadly decisions: Terrance Franklin decided to flee when police responded to a call of a suspected burglary on May 10, and the results were deadly. Police shot and killed Franklin in an Uptown basement where he hid after a 90-minute chase. Police said Franklin charged at them and used one of their guns to shoot two officers, before two others fatally shot him. A Hennepin County grand jury found no evidence to indict the officers involved. A motorcyclist also died when he collided with a late-responding police officer using lights and siren to cross against a red light at a busy intersection. Franklin’s parents question police conduct.
Costly cops: Police conduct continued to be an issue aside from the Franklin case. The Star Tribune reported that none of the 439 cases alleging police misconduct filed in the first year of a new oversight office resulted in discipline for an officer. The department was defending itself against 61 lawsuits alleging police used excessive force, including 53 filed from 2011 to 2013. The department at mid-year had paid nearly $14 million in payouts to settle misconduct allegations in the previous seven years, including $3.075 million to the family of a homeless man who died after police climbed on him while he was acting strangely at the downtown Minneapolis YMCA.
Attention, class: Minneapolis schools now have a five-year plan for handling an enrollment boom that it hasn’t seen in years. The plan adds some 4,500 seats, with additions pending at Southwest High School, Seward Montessori, Sanford Middle School and Cooper school. The plan affects almost one-third of district enrollment, but few will switch schools. Some will see new programs in their schools or follow new paths to high school. It’s still the biggest change since a 2009 shift in school boundaries when the district was still shrinking.
New North Side doorway:The opening of a new link between the downtown and the North Side didn’t get much attention, but the bridge completing Van White Boulevard was freighted with symbolism. It marks a major checkmark in the dwindling to-do list for completing the master plan for redevelopment of the former housing projects straddling Olson Memorial Highway. The boulevard connecting Dunwoody Boulevard/Hennepin Avenue with N. 7th Street was conceived to be a new front doorway to the North Side, while symbolically connecting that under-employed area to downtown jobs. It’s also the first direct north-south connection between Lyndale Avenue to the east and Cedar Lake Parkway to the west, build to withstand the valley’s poor soils. Although the bridge has only two of the planned four lanes, there are walk and bike paths.
Water, water everywhere: Just how much Minneapolis relies on an infrastructure we take for granted was forcefully brought home on Jan. 3 when a water main was breached downtown. The nick by a sub to a subcontractor working on an apartment project flooded the Gateway district with 14 million gallons, forcing water-less employers to send workers home early, impeding commuters and turning the area into a skating rink. The city estimated that it spent at least $325,000 for workers to address the leak and clean up; more than 50 private and postal vehicles were ruined in a nearby ramp. City lawyers are still dealing with the multiple parties involved in the construction project on recovering costs.
A streetcar desired: There’s no clear point when the streetcar line the city proposes for Nicollet Avenue can be said to have irresistible momentum, but hopes for a 3.4-mile starter line made considerable progress, even though polls show the public is split on the proposal.The city completed an alternatives analysis and committed $4 million for starting preliminary engineering next year. That’s still a long ways from landing state and federal funding needed for the $200 million project, but it will better position the city to compete for the money.
(Photos from top to bottom: Mayor R.T. Rybak takes one last dive; illustration of post-renovation Target Center; the late Terrance Franklin; middle schooler Hani (Sabrina) Muridi at Sanford Middle School; flooding from the Gateway district leak.)
Here's a roll call of some of the notable Minneapolis residents who died in 2013, along with the fields in which they made their mark:
John Wing Ackerman, 80, minister and activist
Ed Brandt, 81, legislator and political scientist
Sage Fuller Cowles, 88, dancer and philanthropist
John B. Davidson, 81, co-founder of Children’s Theatre Company
Tom Dickinson, 78, fire chief
Mary Betty Douglass, 87, Romper Room’s “Miss Betty”
Richard Estes, funeral home owner and philanthropist
Lou Gelfand, 91, newsman and public relations
Keith Gunderson, 78, philosophy professor and poet
Al Haug, 64, folk musician and radio host
Burton Joseph, agribusinessman and Jewish activist
Sue McLean, 63, concert promoter
Hussein Samatar, 45, school board member and lender
Pat Schon, 86, champion of World War I vets
Muriel Simmons, 73, neighborhood activist
Phyllis Wiener, 91, painter and feminist
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