Keith Jacobus, who during his second year as superintendent of the South Washington County School District witnessed the passage of a levy proposal and the departures of several key administrators, has received a favorable job review from school board members.
Jacobus scored a 3.7 on a 5.0 scale for his performance on three goals set for 2013-14 and for his overall management of the district, meaning he was “meeting (board) expectations,” according to an Aug. 7 statement by board Chairman Ron Kath.
The board commended Jacobus for his “positive attitude” during the exodus of administrative leaders. But it also suggested that he “actively communicate” with staff members in the future to “minimize the rumor mill” during times of transition.
Questions surrounding the departures prompted Kath to issue a statement about the resignations during an April 24 board meeting. At the time, he said the moves were not a negative reflection on Jacobus but part of the normal course of business for districts as new budget years approach and job opportunities arise elsewhere.
Jacobus, in one of his “What I Know Today” YouTube videos, acknowledged that the lack of explanation for the departures — attributed to the disclosure limits in the state’s Data Practices Act — fueled speculation that there “must be a problem.” That was not true, he said.
In its review of his 2013-14 work, the school board cited the YouTube videos as an example of how Jacobus maintained his visibility within the district.
The goals outlined for him included helping to secure voter approval of school levy and bond requests last fall. Voters did back an additional $6.9 million per year to strengthen school security and lower staff-to-student classroom ratios. But a separate proposal seeking $8 million to buy land for future building needs was narrowly defeated.
Kath said that the board was “very excited” to have Jacobus start his third year with the district.
State senator earns metro group’s salute
The Association of Metropolitan School Districts presented state Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, with its 2014 Friend of Public Education Award.
Wiger, who represents the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale, Mahtomedi and White Bear Lake school districts, is chairman of the E-12 Division of the state Senate Finance Committee.
The Association of Metropolitan School Districts represents 38 K-12 school districts.
Wiger was honored for his leadership during the 2014 legislative session. He championed a funding increase for early learning programs and promoted legislation that helped give districts the ability to finance building renovations and additions for all-day kindergarten.
Funding increases can be tough to get in so-called “non-budget” years — those years that follow the Legislature’s adoption of a two-year state budget.
Scott Croonquist, executive director of the education group, said in a news release that the funding will provide “key resources for our school districts and their students that will help close the achievement gap.”
Wiger, 62, has been active in education policy issues since he was elected at age 21 to the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School Board, the school district said.