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Boundary Waters Area is now the land of fire and ice

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Math and reading results complicated; county tax hikes in metro small; Eden Prairie school chief leaving early; Ellison caucus job plan draws little notice; T-Paw set to cruise; and more.
Read Wed.

AFTERNOON EDITION

There’s at least one Twitterer saying it’s snowing by the Pagami Creek Fire, which has slowed as the winds have. MPR calls the 157-square-mile fire the state’s biggest in 93 years; it will be hard to catch 1918’s 1,500-square-mile Cloquet Fire. Still, MPR metereologist Paul Huttner says the blaze will be burning for “weeks to come.” A hard frost last night helped, but rising temps this week won’t.

State math and reading scores are out, and as usual, they’re complicated. Well, the reading scores are straightforward, with proficiency “inching up” from 72 percent to 74 percent statewide, according to the Star Tribune’s Corey Mitchell and Sarah Lemagie. But there was a new, tougher math test, so proficiency slid to 56 percent from 65 percent — you can give your teacher an apple, but apples-to-apples don’t work here. MPR’s Tom Weber notes 86 percent of white third-graders met reading standards, compared with 55 percent of Hispanics and 58 percent of blacks. St. Paul and Minneapolis posted 4 percent reading improvements. Meanwhile, the state is seeking federal relief from some school sanctions that Minnesota officials say waste money. Full report here; public school math and reading results here; private schools here. Our own Beth Hawkins will walk you through it here.

With all their suburban reporters, the Strib offers a good roundup of county-by-county property-tax hikes. Simply put, there isn’t much. Hennepin, Ramsey and Scott are all up 1 to 2 percent, Dakota is flat, Carver is down 2.2 percent and Anoka fell a whopping 7.4 percent. In the latter case, it doesn’t add up to much — 24 bucks on a median $176,000 house, says the PiPress, which reports a 5.2 percent drop. Thanks to the state grabbing back $200 million in property taxes, though, a minority of area homeowners will see tax bills rise, most likely in pricier homes.

In Minneapolis, there’s been a huge fit about laid-off firefighters. Now, City Pages’ Andy Mannix reports a board-up program budgeted to gross $400,000 for the department brought in a tenth as much. The project lost $282,000, mostly on firefighter staff time that went unreimbursed by the misbegotten enterprise.

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Melissa Krull, who’s caught major grief for leading Eden Prairie schools toward desegregation, accepted a $100,000 buyout to leave her job nine months early, the Strib’s Kelly Smith reports. The 51-year-old Krull is gone Sept. 30.

Minneapolis Congressman Keith Ellison and the Congressional Progressive Caucus released a jobs plan further to the left of President Obama’s. Sure, it’s unlikely to become law, but we used to say the same about Tea Party positions. Aside from Patch.com, though, there’s not much local coverage, even in MSM poliblogs.

A little song, a little dance … Minnesota Independent’s Jon Collins reports Tim Pawlenty has signed up as a featured speaker on the National Review’s Caribbean conserva-cruise. You can tell T-Paw has a high regard for his humor, but I still expect the Star Tribune’s James Lileks, a regular attendee who’s funnier, to steal the show.

Nort spews: The Twins released their 2012 schedule, which includes Target Field dates with the Cubs and Phillies. They open on the road at Baltimore, and the home opener is April 9 versus the Angels. Joe Mauer makes his debut June 1 at Cleveland (just kidding … hopefully). Via WCCO’s Sarah Boyd, Metrodome fans will get new vittles for the coming Vikings home season. Norseman Nachos? In a classy gesture, the Twins bought 500 upper-level Lynx playoff tickets and will give them away, WCCO reports. For those who need to get up to speed, good Lynx history here.

Glean creator David Brauer returns to fill in for vacationing Brian Lambert.