Class Act: St. David Center celebrates $3.75 million from state

  • May 23, 2014 - 7:37 PM

Children enrolled in the St. David’s Center’s early childhood program celebrated the news this week that the Minnetonka-based nonprofit has been awarded $3.75 million in bond funding to expand and renovate its campus. Sen. Terri Bonoff, D-Minnetonka, who helped lead those legislative efforts, attended the celebration.

The money, approved last week in the state bonding bill, brings St. David’s close to its goal of raising $12.2 million to expand its facility and offer more services to children with special needs such as autism.

The renovation project includes redesigned and expanded autism day treatment classrooms, on-site ­therapy rooms, a children’s mental health clinic and improved early childhood education space. The expansion will add about 6,000 square feet to the center, housed in a former Hopkins school building.

“There is a great need across the community for an organization like St. David’s Center, which has a multidisciplinary approach to working with kids,” said Julie Sjordal, executive director.

Just how great? Sjordal ticked off the statistics: one in 68 children has autism; one in six has some kind of developmental delay, one in five has some kind of mental illness. Yet only about 20 percent are able to get services.

St. David’s kicked off its fundraising efforts in 2012 and had amassed $7.4 million before the bond funding was signed into law.

Kim McGuire


Robbinsdale to seek technology funds in fall

The Robbinsdale school board has decided to ask voters to renew an existing operating levy and approve a new one to help pay for technology needs.

If approved, the technology levy would provide about $3.5 million a year to increase technology access for students and staff, support personalized learning and enhance technology currently in use. Robbinsdale is one of few metro area school districts that does not have a technology levy in place. If approved, the owner of a $175,000 home would see a tax increase of about $6 a month.

The district has a plan to improve teaching and learning practices, administrative operations, and communication. “However, we don’t have the financial resources to fully implement this plan,” said Dennis Beekman, executive director of technology. “Asking our voters to approve a technology levy is the only way we can provide our students and staff with the technology tools they need to succeed.”

Taxes would not go up if voters approve the levy renewal. It currently provides about $20 million a year to pay for things like classroom supplies, staff salaries, maintenance and transportation. The election will be Nov. 4

Kim McGuire


Candidates lining up for Mpls. school board

There’s now a four-person contest for two citywide seats to fill the Minneapolis school board this fall, and a candidate for each of three district seats. The DFL-endorsed slate filed Thursday consists of incumbent Rebecca Gagnon and Iris Altamirano for the citywide seats, and incumbent Jenny Arneson for the East Side seat in District 1, Nelson Inz for the Nokomis-area District 5 seat, and Siad Ali for the District 3 seat.

Also filing to run citywide are Doug Mann, who has run for school board repeatedly without winning, and Richard Franson, who is making his 30th run for a variety of offices but only his second bid for school board. Filings close June 3 for the four-year terms.

Steve Brandt

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