The 2013-14 school year brought major changes to schools and classrooms in St. Paul, and concerns, too, from staff and community members who spoke out at school board listening sessions at year's end.

The district was seen by some as moving too fast to mainstream English language learners and students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Critics charged that there had been inadequate support for the new middle schools. Classrooms and hallways had become unruly, others said.

An overarching concern was a perceived lack of communication on the part of district leaders, and to that end, the St. Paul Public Schools has begun a new school year with engagement as a major goal -- and part of that effort has been the launch of a new Web page, "Trending @SPPS."

There, the district is addressing in Q-and-A fashion several major issues, including the iPad initiative, classroom behavior, middle school supports and possible school start-time changes. The Web page also offers a new feature, "Small Talk, Big Topics," which gives community members the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback, plus request face-to-face meetings with district leaders on issues of concern.

"Confused about why SPPS would provide iPads to every student? Not sure what you think about how race affects learning? Interested in sharing your ideas for how the district could improve? Tell us what you'd like to talk about," the Small Talk, Big Topics page states.

Meetings are expected to be held at coffee shops throughout the city, and will be arranged by communications director Julie Schultz Brown.

The Trending @SPPS page is at