The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage school board has approved new 2016-17 school start times, with middle schools starting earliest at 7:47 a.m., Burnsville High School starting next at 8 a.m. and elementary schools beginning latest, at 9:15 a.m.

Among the biggest changes: High school will start nearly half an hour later, while five of the district’s 10 elementary schools will start 45 minutes later.

All schools serving the same grade levels will begin at the same time.

“What was proposed is the best of all worlds,” said Board Member Jim Schmid. “You know, you’re not going to satisfy everyone.”

The district created the plan as part of its transition to grades 9-12 high schools and 6-8 middle schools next fall.

School officials wanted to start high school later, since studies show that teens need extra time to sleep in the morning. Another priority was not increasing the cost of busing.

The district surveyed staff members and parents to ask their opinions on two proposed schedules. More than 700 staff members weighed in, along with 2,000 parents.

In the plan that had elementary students starting the earliest — at 7:30 a.m. — parents frequently commented that was too early for young kids to be waiting at the bus stop. When a later high school start time was proposed, surveys showed conflicts with after-school activities.

Results were split evenly between the two concepts, so a third option was drawn up.

Erin Adler


Como Park kids to see Iowa caucuses in action

A group of students from Como Park High School in St. Paul is heading to the center of political action on Monday: Mason City, Iowa.

As buzz around the Iowa caucuses hits full swing, Eric Erickson and a couple of fellow social studies teachers are taking students to Iowa to bring to life everything they’ve learned in class.

“With the eyes of the nation focused on our neighboring state to the south, I thought we should take a field trip,” he said.

Erickson, 40 students and the two other teachers are heading to Mason City after school on Monday, getting to the Republican caucus at 5:45 p.m. There, they’ll informally poll caucusgoers, then head to the Democratic caucus at 7 p.m. .

He took kids to Iowa in 2008, but skipped the 2012 caucuses because only the Republican Party was represented, and he wanted his students to be exposed to both sides.

Students won’t see candidates, but they will see neighbors conversing about politics.

“This is grass-roots politics at its finest,” Erickson said.


Severson wins seat in Columbia Heights

Naty Severson has won a seat on the Columbia Heights school board, beating her opponent, Hala Asamarai, by 70 votes, according to unofficial results from Tuesday’s special election.

Severson won the seat vacated by Lori Meyer in July.

With one special election under its belt, the district is barreling into its second for the seat Grant Nichols resigned in October, under fire for an anti-Muslim comment in a Facebook post that he said someone else had written.

Candidates with their eyes on the seat include Asamarai, Tim Utz and Scott Bardell.

The special election primary is Feb. 9, and the election is April 5.

Beena Raghavendran