Weather Forecast


Board tables ALC proposal

There just hasn't been enough time to consider all of the options.

That was the consensus Monday evening when the Red Wing School Board voted 7-0 to table a proposal that would have the Goodhue County Education District taking control of all of Red Wing School District's alternative learning programming -- including Tower View at Anderson Center.

"I think a board move tonight does not make any sense. I'd like to see more detail," Board member Steve Anderson said before making the motion to table the matter.

"It impacts our kids, it impacts our community, it impacts staff," Board member Paul Kramp added. "Our intent is to move along, but we need to digest these issues."

The issue came up rather quickly, Director of Teaching and Learning Joe Jezierski said. The district wasn't aware of any problems with its alternative learning centers or programs until the Minnesota Department of Education conducted a site visit on May 14.

That visit came on the heels of the GCED board's approval of the creation of a middle-level ALC at its April 25 meeting. That ALC would make the GCED's five member districts eligible for targeted services funding for their elementary schools.

However, Jezierski said that during that site visit it was discovered that the middle school ALC would not make Red Wing eligible for the targeted services funding unless Red Wing's high school ALC -- Tower View -- was also operated under GCED.

"It can't be a splice where we're working under Red Wing Schools for the high school ALC and we're going under GCED for the middle school (ALC)," Jezierski said.

A separate -- but related -- issue was also discovered at this time, Jezierski said. The middle school's current ALC does not meet the qualifications that would enable the district to receive funding for targeted services.

Under MDE policy, middle school students must attend ALC courses for at least 50 percent of the day. Right now, students do not attend the ALC for that much time, Jezierski said.

"If we were audited, we could be asked to pay back all targeted services for last three years," Jezierski said of that requirement.

The solution proposed in the board's agenda packet would be to have the GCED sponsor all of Red Wing's ALC programs.

"If the decision was to partner under the (GCED) with all alternative programming, that solves everything," Jezierski said. "Whether that's the best decision for the district, that's up to the school district to consider."

But staff members raised concerns about the future of Tower View and the swiftness of the proposal included in Monday's agenda packets, which came with a recommendation to approve it.

Tower View teacher Jamie Lorentzen told the R-E in an email that he and fellow staff members learned about the proposal just last Wednesday.

During Monday meeting's public comment period, he spoke on behalf of Tower View staff against the proposal, urging the board to keep Tower View under Red Wing School District control.

"Local control offers nuanced programming," Lorentzen said. "Consolidation offers diluted programming in which at-risk Red Wing students will suffer greater disconnect from their individual needs and communities."

Red Wing High School teacher and labor management committee member Tammy Mikkelson also questioned the proposal during the public comment period.

"I just found out on Friday that this is even being talked about," she said. "This is a huge undertaking. We shouldn't rush into anything."

Further complicating matters, Jezierski said, is that the district is past certain MDE deadlines to change the alternative programming for the upcoming school year. However, Jezierski said the MDE may be flexible. He added that the district needs more clarification about some of MDE's policies.

But because of those unknown deadlines, Jezierski urged board members to move quickly.

"We do need to make some decisions, sooner rather than later," he said.

Board members and Supt. Karsten Anderson discussed holding a special meeting next week to deal with the issue, but have not yet set a specific date.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.