Voters in the New Prague district passed a $58.5 million bond referendum Tuesday, with 67 percent of voters approving the measure.

The funds will pay for a renovation and addition to the middle school. The project will incorporate a new gym, additional classrooms and a bigger cafeteria.

In addition, the district now will be able to fix up the Central Education Campus building, demolishing an older part of the building and adding a new indoor pool and a community room. The idea is to make it a mini-community center. The area will have a separate entrance.

Maintenance to several schools and a transportation building addition also are planned.

The referendum will increase taxes on an average home — valued at $150,000 — by $68 a year.

Erin Adler

 

St. Paul schools brace for $15M in budget cuts

Public schools are in a tough position on the budget front — forced now to finalize 2015-16 spending plans while awaiting state action on the amount of aid to be provided to schools over the next two years.

For the St. Paul School District, that has meant finding ways to pare up to $15 million. This week, the school board pondered moves that have included:

• Cutting at least 7 percent from the central administration and in districtwide support programs tied to work in areas like racial equity and family and community engagement.

• Reneging on promises made during last year’s teachers contract negotiations to add five licensed media specialists and five elementary school counselors.

• Cutting back on funds set aside annually to cover retiree health insurance obligations.

• Eliminating some time for teachers to work together on lesson plans and teaching strategies — a system that has the added benefit of allowing science, physical education and arts specialists to work with students while classroom teachers are busy collaborating.

Superintendent Valeria Silva said that her administration is proposing the 7 percent reductions in districtwide programming and support services to protect funding at the classroom level.

“We’re providing as much as we can to the schools,” she said this week.

Still, cuts are expected at the school level, too.

Anthony Lonetree

 

Eden Prairie teachers injured in car accident

Six teachers from Eden Prairie were en route to a conference in Duluth last week when they were involved in a serious car accident. Five were injured. Two are not expected to return to work this school year because of their injuries.

The accident occurred when the tire of the Ford Expedition the teachers were riding in unexpectedly came off.

All of the teachers work in the high school’s math department, prompting school leaders there to scramble to find replacements.

Principal Conn McCartan told local media that Edina High School offered to help find substitute teachers, and some recently retired Eden Prairie teachers volunteered to help.

Jaclyn Swords, the district’s communications director, said other Eden Prairie families have offered to help by bringing meals to the injured teachers.

“People have offered to help in really huge ways,” she said.

Kim McGuire