Staff Directory 6370436

Mara Klecker

Reporter | Minneapolis K-12 schools
Phone: 612-673-4440

Mara Klecker covers Minneapolis K-12 schools for the Star Tribune. She previously reported on the suburbs of the Twin Cities. Before coming to the Star Tribune, she was the social services reporter at the Omaha World-Herald.. 


A native South Dakotan and a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's journalism college, Klecker has always called the Midwest home. She's worked on journalism projects in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Nepal. In her free time, she can be found reading, hiking or planning her next international trip.
Recent content from Mara Klecker
Ed Graff’s final day as superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools is Thursday.

Mpls. superintendent leaving after 6 years of 'successes, challenges and learning experiences'

Ed Graff's tenure with the district, which included a controversial redesign and a disruptive teachers strike, ends Thursday.
Sheridan Elementary School students participated in their annual field day with a game of tug of war at nearby Logan Park on Friday. The last day of c

Mpls. sees emptier classrooms, toilet paper shortages, cold fare

The Minneapolis school year went into overtime this week, the first of two extra weeks to make up for time lost during the teacher's strike this spring. It was also a time of outdoor fun to ease the pain of a postponed summer break.
Senior Finance Officer Ibrahima Diop addressed the budget shortage in front of the Minneapolis school board on May 10.

Minneapolis school board approves budget cuts, including to arts programs

The board faced a $27 million deficit after enrollment declines and the new teacher contract that settled a three-week strike.
Sheridan Elementary — soon to be called Las Estrellas — is one of the 14 schools without full air conditioning that will move to distance learning

Forecast of a scorcher means distance learning for 14 Mpls. schools

At the start of their two-week extension, 14 schools in the city will have online classes on Tuesday.
Gerald “Gerry” Bakken

Gerald Bakken, longtime St. Louis Park gym teacher, dies at 82

Bakken was a passionate photographer, a fan of puns and a doting grandfather.
Minneapolis South High School’s graduates tossed their caps in the air at the conclusion of their commencement Wednesday evening.

Minneapolis seniors celebrate graduation after disruptive years

Their high school careers have been affected by the pandemic, a racial reckoning and the teachers strike.
The academic year for Minneapolis Public Schools was extended until June 24 to make up for class time missed during the three-week teachers strike thi

Facing two extra weeks, Mpls. families wonder if students really have to go to class

The district says students are required to attend until June 24, but principals can approve student absences if they have conflicts.
Ed Barlow, left, the band teacher at Anwatin Middle School shows Alex Rennie how to position his fingers on the clarinet. Barlow was on the Minneapoli

New Minneapolis teacher contract language disrupts seniority to protect educators of color

The provision goes into effect next spring.
Greta Callahan was reelected as president of the teacher chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers.

Greta Callahan re-elected president of Minneapolis teachers union

Catina Neal Taylor was elected president of the education support professionals chapter.
North High School’s new dance teacher Kara Noble, left, gives feedback to dancers including Courtney Hunter during rehearsal at the school.

How a new Minneapolis North High School teacher made dance class popular again

Enrollment in classes has soared since Kara Noble took over the program last fall.
Mental health professionals say it’s important for parents to talk with children about tragedies like the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uval

Minnesota experts offer advice for parents to talk to children about tragedy

It's important to help children understand what they've heard and might be feeling about tragic events like the Texas school shooting.
Senior Finance Officer Ibrahima Diop addresses the budget shortfall in front of the Minneapolis school board.

As Minneapolis schools face cuts to address projected budget gap, here's what to know

The board will vote on the budget in June.
The Minneapolis Public Schools board on Tuesday approved contract agreements with the union representing teachers and education support professionals

Minneapolis school board approves contracts with teachers, support professionals union

The deals reached in late March ended a three-week strike.
Senior Finance Officer Ibrahima Diop addressed the budget shortfall in front of Minneapolis school board members Kim Ellison, Jenny Arneson and Adrian

Mpls. school board appoints interim superintendent amid budget crunch

The district is looking for ways to cut millions from its budget.
Cindy Booker was a first-grader when Field and Hale elementary schools were paired as a way to combat segregation in south Minneapolis. She helped put

Exhibit looks at what has and hasn't changed since 1971 Mpls. schools desegregation

The Hennepin History Museum display, created in part by two former Hale-Field students, looks at what has and hasn't changed in the city and its schools in the past 50 years.
The Minneapolis school board will choose someone Tuesday to fill a vacant at-large seat.

Vacant Minneapolis school board seat draws 25 applicants

The school board on Tuesday will appoint someone to fill the at-large seat left open by Josh Pauly's resignation in March.
The school board is set to vote on Tuesday to appoint Rochelle Cox as interim superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools. Cox is currently an associ

Minneapolis Public Schools names Rochelle Cox as interim superintendent candidate

Cox is currently an associate superintendent with the district.
Sarah Lancaster, a first-grade teacher at Onamia Elementary School, is the 2022 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

Minnesota's teacher of the year from Onamia aims to be a voice for community, students

Sarah Lancaster is the first teacher of Asian Pacific Islander descent to win the title.
Alexis Mann, left, and incumbent Greta Callahan, right, are both running to be president of the teacher chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teach

Minneapolis Federation of Teachers will elect union leaders in May

Incumbent Greta Callahan faces Alexis Mann for the role of teacher chapter president.
Alexandria McNeil and NiJionna Montjoy, left to right, graduating North High seniors, reacted to an announcement Friday that they will each be receivi

For Minneapolis North students, graduation this year comes with $10,000 scholarships

Pillsbury United Communities organized the new scholarship fund to be a "shockwave of hope."
Minneapolis Public Schools announced that students will no longer be required to wear masks to school, starting Monday, April 18.

Minneapolis schools lift mask mandate, change quarantine protocol

The decision comes the same week as St. Paul's school board voted to lift that district's mask mandate
Minneapolis Public Schools officials have begun discussing the financial implications of the new contracts with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers

Mpls. school officials say new teacher contract will force cuts next year

District faces $27 million in cuts for the 2022-23 school year.
The Minneapolis school board voted Tuesday to rename Sheridan Elementary as Las Estrellas. The board also approved renaming Jefferson Elementary in ho

Minneapolis school board changes names of Sheridan, Jefferson schools

In July, Sheridan will become Las Estrellas and Jefferson will become Ella Baker.
Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff listened to public comment Tuesday, April 12, as the board outlined the timeline to appoint an inte

Minneapolis board may name an interim school chief next month

The school board laid out a timeline to make the appointment, as well as to fill a vacant school board seat, at a meeting that brought more than 100 protesting students.
Sheridan Principal Yajaira Guzmán Carrero talks to a fourth-grader working on a classroom exercise on immigration on Monday in Minneapolis. The Minne

Minneapolis school board to vote on renaming two schools

The new name of Sheridan Dual Language Elementary would be Las Estrellas, meaning "The Stars," and Jefferson Elementary would be named for Ella Baker, in honor of a civil rights leader.
Minneapolis School Board Chair Kim Ellison and Superintendent Ed Graff at a March press conference to announce the tentative agreements reached with t

Minneapolis school board to announce timeline for picking interim superintendent, school board member

The details will be available at the April 12 school board meeting.
Members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Education Support Professionals created picket signs ahead of a strike that lasted nearly three

After Mpls. teachers strike reveals divisions, 'all eyes are on the district'

Appointing new leadership, rebuilding trust are among the tasks the district faces.
Greta Callahan, president of the teacher chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT), addresses the media March 7 at Davis Center in Minne

Minneapolis Federation of Teachers leader is resolute in 'righteous' fight for students

Greta Callahan rallied union members through a strike, but some in the community question whether the fight hurts efforts to secure more funding for schools.
Ed Graff, superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, spoke on the first day of the Minneapolis teachers union strike.

Ed Graff to leave Mpls. schools when contract expires in June

The Minneapolis superintendent informed school board members in an email, just days after the district's 28,700 student returned to class after a teachers strike that lasted nearly three weeks.
Lake Harriet Lower Principal Angie Ness welcomes students back to school on Tuesday. Minneapolis students returned to school following a three-week te

Mpls. school board votes for changes to make up for time lost

Hours after students returned to class after the three-week teachers strike, a special business meeting was interrupted by students, community members and teachers pushing back on extending the school day and year.
Students will return to Minneapolis Public School classrooms on Tuesday.

Minneapolis students return to class Tuesday

The district has yet to announce the financial impact of agreement with union.
Members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Professionals listened to speakers during a news conference in February 2022

What you need to know about the agreements with Minneapolis teachers, support professionals

The union began to schedule information sessions and voting over the weekend.
Minneapolis Public Schools teachers and supporters gathered Friday outside Minneapolis Public Schools headquarters.

Minneapolis schools, teachers reach tentative deal to end strike

Students may return to class as soon as Monday, the district said. In a news release, the union noted "major gains" on pay for education support professionals, class size caps and mental health supports.
Union members and supporters created picket signs at the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Education Support Professionals offices in northeast M

Some Minneapolis educators of color say teachers' union sidelined them during negotiations

Others say they're proud of the tentative contract's wins.
Minneapolis educators walked the picket line in front of the Davis Center on Monday.

Talks resume between Mpls. school district, teachers union

Talks continued throughout the day as both parties expressed optimism.
Minneapolis teachers and and support staff members continued their protest outside the Davis Education Service Center on Wednesday.

Minneapolis teachers strike standoff intensifies as talks stall

No negotiations on Wednesday as texts between district official, union president are publicized.
The Minneapolis teachers strike entered its third week on Monday.

Mpls. district says school likely to extend into June to make up for strike losses

Representatives from the district and the union are continuing negotiations in search of contract agreements.
Members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Professionals and the St. Paul Federation of Educators held a press conferen

What you need to know about the teachers strike in Minneapolis, agreement in St. Paul

The unions had filed their intents to strike as contract negotiations dragged on.
Minneapolis teachers, including Holly Thorsta, left, an art teacher at Roosevelt High, stood in silence as Native American leaders honored the land in

Union balks at Mpls. schools' 'final' offer for education support staff

The district outlined its offer in a video Sunday, and the union countered with its own videos Monday.
Dozens of educators on strike picketed outside Justice Page Middle School in Minneapolis, on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

Minneapolis school district makes 'final' wage offer for education support professionals

Move could mean more than $10 million in budget cuts for the next school year.
Twin Cities teachers including MFT, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59, and ESP, Education Support Professionals, rallied at the Minnesota St

Mediation continues over the weekend between Minneapolis teachers union, school district

Friday marked the ninth day classes were canceled by the strike.
More than 100 students hold a sit-in at the district office Thursday morning.

Students hold sit-in at district office; food service workers say they have deal

Both sides said some progress was made this week.
Members of the Minneapolis Public Schools negotiation team answered questions as more than 100 high school students held a sit-in at district headquar

Head of human resources for Minneapolis school district resigns

Maggie Sullivan, who has been with the district for 12 years, will leave MPS at the end of March.
Superintendent Ed Graff, along with School Board Member Kimberly Caprini, left, and board Chairwoman Kim Ellison, right, at a meeting in November.

Minneapolis school board members face intense pressure

Board members have been in some mediation sessions to talk about specific issues, and others have spent recent days waiting at district headquarters to be on hand if needed.
Minneapolis School Board member Josh Pauly, pictured in January 2019, said he is resigning.

Mpls. school board member cites broken trust in resignation

Josh Pauly's decision comes amid the second week of a teachers strike.
Greta Callahan, president of the teachers chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers spoke at a rally on Wednesday, March 9, at the State Capit

Mpls. teacher strike continues; district raises pay, cites 'financial limit'

The St. Paul Federation of Educators will hold a ratification vote Wednesday on its tentative contract agreement.
Greta Callahan, president of the teachers chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, spoke at a rally Wednesday at the State Capitol. Contract

Teacher strike comes against backdrop of state surplus

State help isn't likely to come quickly or easily — lawmakers in the divided Legislature are sparring over how to spend the surplus during an election year, and many groups are jockeying for a cut of the money.
The Minneapolis skyline rises in the distance as dozens of educators from Bethune Community School on Tuesday.

Negotiations continue on third day of Minneapolis teachers strike

Classes are canceled for duration of the strike.
Aria Campbell, an educational support professional at MSP Center for Adult Learning fist-bumped a student in the hallway during class changes.

Mpls. teachers push support-staff raises; district questions how much it can afford

The district on Wednesday released what it says are the latest wage proposals.
Kelly Metzler, a teacher at Wilder, joined around 200 Minneapolis teachers and supporters as they take to the sidewalk to picket at 34th Street and S.

Minneapolis classes canceled indefinitely as teachers strike

With staffers heading to picket lines Tuesday, families of the 28,700 students scrambled for fallback options. St. Paul schools averted a strike with a tentative agreement.
Greta Callahan, president of the teacher chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers spoke to the media Monday in Minneapolis.

Mpls. teachers strike; St. Paul reaches deal

The teachers unions in both cities pushed for higher wages, smaller class sizes and more mental health supports for students.
Philip See, 8, whose mother is a teacher and himself a student in the district, carried picket signs Saturday to be distributed in the event of strike

Student mental health support a sticking point in teacher talks

Absent resolution on mental health caseloads, and others including pay and class-size limits, teachers union members on both sides of the river are ready to go on strike Tuesday morning.
Food service workers at Minneapolis Public Schools typically make less than $28,000 a year, according to their union.

Minneapolis school food service workers vote to authorize a strike

The vote comes as Minneapolis and St. Paul educators prepare for a potential strike starting Tuesday.
Minneapolis defeated Delano 3 - 1 to win the MSHSL Section 2A Boys Hockey Tournament Championship Wednesday night. The team will advance to the State

Minneapolis varsity sports, including hockey, to continue if teachers strike

The Minneapolis boys' hockey team would head to next week's state tournament even if the district's teachers strike. St. Paul has said varsity sports would continue on a case-by-case basis.
Teachers and staff picketed outside Minneapolis School District headquarters in 2021. Negotiations in the Minneapolis and St. Paul districts have drag

Teachers unions in Minneapolis, St. Paul set 10-day strike warning

The action sets the stage for strikes as soon as March 8.
Minneapolis Public Schools is anticipating continued enrollment decline and a budget shortfall next year.

Minneapolis Public Schools predicts enrollment decline, budget shortfall

The current cost structure is "unsustainable," district leaders say.
Minneapolis Public Schools teachers and staff and members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers rallied outside the district offices before a scho

Facing possible strikes, schools and teachers differ on path to stability in Minneapolis, St. Paul

The unions authorized strikes last week but haven't yet exercised the option.
Minneapolis Public Schools teachers and staff and members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers picketed in 2021 outside district headquarters bef

Minneapolis, St. Paul teachers and support staff authorize strike

The authorization vote doesn't necessarily trigger a strike — union leaders would need to formally notify the district if they determine a strike is necessary. State law requires the union to give the district at least 10 days' notice before the first day of the strike.
Jamil Jackson leads a team of “violence interrupters” to monitor areas around North Community High School each afternoon around dismissal time. Th

'Violence interrupters' at 3 Minneapolis high schools work to provide safety, build relationships

The program doesn't bring the interrupters into the school buildings. But that could change as the program grows, leaders said.
Man dead after ambulance collides with snowmobile in northern Minnesota

Man dead after ambulance collides with snowmobile in northern Minnesota

The snowmobile driver, a 61-year-old man, was declared dead at the scene.
Officials release IDs of two men shot dead in car in Minneapolis

Officials release IDs of two men shot dead in car in Minneapolis

The two men, 23 and 30, were shot Thursday as they sat in their car
Balloons marked a memorial Friday for Deshaun Hill Jr., 15, who was shot near the corner of Golden Valley Road and Penn Avenue N. in Minneapolis on We

Community reels after student killed, bus driver hurt in Mpls.

Student Deshaun Hill, who died Thursday, will be honored at a North High basketball game this weekend.
As Courtney Ross, the girlfriend of George Floyd, front, became emotional while speaking, Tiffany Brown, the sister of Jamar Clark, left to right, Kat

Families of Black men killed by police in Minnesota demand justice for Amir Locke

Students march in solidarity, group lays out plans for change
Katherine Novak

Katie Novak, passionate fitness trainer from St. Louis Park, dies at 31

As a trainer, she had a knack for encouraging others.
Jahmari Rice’s stepfather, Charles Beard, comforted Rice’s mother, Shyrese James, and aunt, Tatiana Williams, from left, as they stood grieving to

Students' dispute led to shooting at Richfield school, police say

Richfield police and local officials shared new details about a shooting that left one student dead and another seriously wounded. The suspects in jail are 2 men, ages 18 and 19, from Minneapolis.
The Minneapolis school board, pictured in 2021, reduced its certified 2022 tax levy this week.

Minneapolis school board reduces tax levy due to enrollment decline

The previously certified 7.43% tax increase will drop to 4.3%.
Anoka High School English and reading teacher Alecia Pankratz worked one-on-one with a student in her office in Anoka.

Specialists diverted, kids shortchanged in pandemic-stressed Minnesota schools

Reading and math coaches are "pulled in 110 directions" and often tapped to fill school staffing gaps.
Hundreds of educators and families marched through downtown Minneapolis on Monday in support of higher wages for educational support professionals wor

Hundreds rally in Mpls. for higher wages for education support professionals

The union representing about 1,200 employees filed for mediation with the district last week.
Students at Bethune Elementary School prepared for dismissal at the end of the day Jan. 6 as the Minneapolis school district switched to distance lear

Minnesota schools scramble on how long they can resist distance learning

Widespread staff absences have pushed several districts into remote learning.
Minneapolis Public Schools’ mechanics performed preventative maintenance on buses before the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Minneapolis school board approves agreement with bus drivers, averts strike

The three-year pact increases wages.
Students at Bethune Elementary School prepare for dismissal at the end of the day, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, in Minneapolis, Minn.

Omicron surge adds additional stress on understaffed Minnesota schools

Staff and student absences have increased since before winter break.
Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff said the district has no plans to move all schools into distance learning.

As omicron virus spreads, Mpls. schools work to keep doors open

Superintendent Ed Graff said 285 teachers were absent due to illness or travel delays on Monday, but that the district has no plans to move all schools into distance learning.
PS Institute cooking instructor James Rone showed Jairi Edwards how to light the burner at her work station so she could cook her dumplings during Ron

Project Success cooking class offers Minneapolis students chance to learn, gather

The class is a part of the nonprofit's PS Institute.
The Minneapolis school board is adding another position for a student representative.

Minneapolis school board adds seat for second student representative

The students will receive a $5,000 stipend
In a letter to students and staff, University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel encouraged students and staff to get the COVID-19 booster shot.

University of Minnesota encourages students, employees to get COVID-19 booster shot

Some private college are requiring the booster shots.