Four new Minneapolis school board members accused current board of "ill will" in talks with teachers. Board president disagreed.
Four incoming Minneapolis school board members are scolding the current board for its handling of contract negotiations with the teachers union.
On Minneapolis Federation of Teachers letterhead, Jenny Arneson, Rebecca Gagnon, Richard Mammen and Alberto Monserrate signaled their support of the union and urged the board to settle soon.
"Members of the current school board have created ill will," part of the letter reads. "It is our hope that ... we can work with remaining school board directors to cultivate a district culture of trust, collaboration and shared responsibility for the benefits of all Minneapolis students."
Incoming member Hussein Samatar declined to sign the letter. Union leaders have co-opted the other four, board President Tom Madden said.
"There's a total lack of objectivity. They weren't privy to half of what went on," said Madden, whose term expires next month and who said he intended to voice displeasure about the letter at Tuesday night's school board meeting.
Union President Lynn Nordgren denied seeking to influence the new members. "All of us want to move on. It's time," she said.
Negotiations are to resume Friday. The contract expired before the start of the 2009-10 school year. The district paid an $800,000 fine in January for failing to meet a state contract deadline. In October, a state-hired arbitrator forced the district to pay $17 million in raises and back pay to teachers and support staff.
The penalties have put the district and union at odds, something the new board hopes to avoid.
"We want to start the year with a positive tone," said Gagnon, adding that the letter was "just a little push to let them know it's not OK to let this go unresolved."
Meanwhile the board approved raising next year's tax levy by 1.88 percent, which will generate $3 million for the 2011-12 school year, said Peggy Ingison, the district's chief financial officer. The state would have allowed the district to levy up to a 3.12 percent increase, but the district put off several building projects to keep it under 2 percent, Ingison said.
The board also approved three-year leases for two schools that will house charter academies. Minneapolis College Preparatory, a charter high school, will occupy the former Lincoln Community School, 2131 12th Av. N. The Minnesota School of Science will move in at the Cityview Community School, 3350 N. Fourth, offering kindergarten through fifth grade.
Terms of the deals were not released, but school officials say rents will cover keeping the buildings open.
The district also will negotiate with developers who want two school properties on Lake Street.
L&H Station Development wants to use land at 2225 E. Lake for housing and commercial development, including apartments for senior citizens and a farmers market. Dominium Development wants to buy the former Lehmann Center at 1006 W. Lake.
Corey Mitchell • 612-673-4491