The deal is off to turn North St. Paul's community center into a special education center for North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale students.

On Nov. 27, the district, which serves parts of Washington and Ramsey counties, rescinded a lease agreement calling for the school district to renovate the under-used facility for $2.5 million early next year and then reopen it as a special education center next fall.

Dale Sundstrom, the district's business services director, said last week that complications arose immediately after the school board approved the lease in September. Initial concerns involved continued use of the building for city league basketball and volleyball -- a proposal that had not been discussed earlier, he said. The district subsequently decided to pursue other ways to resolve its space needs, Sundstrom said.

The lease had been seen as a potential money-saver because the district now pays tuition and transportation for students to attend special programming elsewhere. Karon Joyer, district director of special services, also said students would be better served with a central facility.

Sundstrom said the district still wants to keep students in their home district. One idea, he said, would be to make room at Harmony Learning Center, a district facility that houses alternative programs, for secondary students who now leave the district as part of the Setting IV EBD (emotional behavior disorder) program.

The school board plans to discuss facilities issues at a study session this month, Sundstrom said.


Former student helps non-English speakers

Douglas Reiser, who spoke no English when he arrived in Woodbury from Germany, volunteered for several months recently at a South Washington County School District middle school he attended as a youngster.

Reiser, now 19, spent much of his time working with English Language Learning (ELL) students, a school district news release said.

He had asked Principal Molly Roeske for permission to volunteer at Lake Middle School before resuming his own studies, and then showed up each day from the first week of school to Nov. 21, his last day with students, the district said.

Reiser worked in a "most amazing way" to help non-English speakers new to the country who were "immersed like he was into the English school setting," Roeske said in the release.

"He has been an inspirational role model to our students and staff as it relates to service to others -- and personal integrity."

She added that students and staff members miss Reiser but were excited for his future. He now is pursuing advanced studies in Germany, where he lives, a district spokeswoman said last week.

In addition to Lake Middle School, Reiser also attended Bailey Elementary School.


Area high school raises funds for food

Staff and students at the north campus of White Bear Lake Area High School are teaming with Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) for a fund drive that will culminate with the packing of tens of thousands of meals on Dec. 20.

The school hopes to pack 100,000 meals at 22 cents each, or $22,000 total, a district news release said.

FMSC is a nonprofit based in Coon Rapids that recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. It provides food to needy people in 50 countries, including Haiti, Cuba and the United States. According to the school district release, the food being packed in White Bear Lake will be sent worldwide.

The school's effort, dubbed "White Bear MobilePack," had raised $2,094 as of last Monday, according to an update provided on the FMSC website. People can give online at:

Checks and cash also are being accepted by north campus teachers John Kovacs and Katelin Held. Checks are to be made out to "Feed My Starving Children-WBL MobilePack."