St. Paul school board wants mayor to decry takeover proposal

  • Article by: DAAREL BURNETTE II , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 7, 2012 - 9:37 AM
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St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman

Photo: Leah Millis, Star Tribune

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St. Paul's school board members said on Tuesday night that St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman should publicly denounce recently proposed legislation that would place the school system under his control.

"I don't understand why he doesn't step out and support us since he says he's already in full support of us anyways," Board Member Mary Doran said.

House Republicans introduced a bill last week that would place St. Paul and Minneapolis schools under mayoral control. Under the proposal, the mayor would appoint a chief executive to run the schools. That person would not be required to have a superintendent's license.

"When a mayor takes over a school, it's been because the district is in big trouble, and we are not there at all," St. Paul schools Superintendent Valeria Silva said. "We're closing the achievement gap. We see enrollment going up. Having such a change like the mayor taking over, what's the message we're sending to our parents?"

Board Member John Brodrick suggested that the board's chair and vice chair meet with the mayor in coming days to advocate for him to publicly oppose the bill.

Coleman's spokesman Joe Campbell said the mayor isn't pushing the bill and has a "great" relationship with Silva. But he also said of Coleman: "He's more than willing to sit down with anybody that wants to have a serious discussion about closing the achievement gap."

Coleman and board members already have had some discussions. "It's not like the door's been closed to them," Campbell said.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing Thursday.

In other action, the board got a peek at next year's proposed school calendar, which will have elementary through high school students start Sept. 4 and go until June 7. Preschool and kindergarten students would start Sept. 10.

The calendar, which also has spring break slated for March 25 to 29, is expected to be approved by the board at its March 20 meeting.

Staff writer Rochelle Olson contributed to this report. Daarel Burnette II • 651-925-5032 Twitter: @DaarelStrib

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