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General Mills is cutting 850 jobs

When The General hurts, the sergeants and privates suffer. Mike Hughlett and Patrick Kennedy of the Strib report on General Mills’ job cuts: “Grappling with high ingredient costs and tepid consumer demand, General Mills Tuesday announced corporate restructuring plans that will eliminate 850 jobs worldwide, about half of them in the Twin Cities.
… The majority of General Mills employees in the Twin Cities work at the company’s sprawling campus in Golden Valley. Company spokeswoman Kirstie Foster said that ‘administrative and support’ positions would be most affected by the layoffs. … The layoffs come as General Mills, like many packaged food makers, has struggled with high commodity costs and weaker sales growth. In February, General Mills lowered its current fiscal year profit outlook due to flagging sales. And consumers have continued to show resistance to price increases passed down by food makers.” Have you seen the cost of a box of Cheerios lately?

The state Department of Education has released its first rating of schools in the post-NCLB era. The AP story says: “Nearly half of Minnesota’s 2,255 schools failed to meet the No Child Left Behind benchmarks in 2010. Many of them faced potential penalties that included forced staffing changes and expensive requirements to provide free after-school tutoring or busing to better schools. Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said the new system is a fairer and more accurate way to hold schools accountable. … Minnesota’s new Multiple Measurement Ratings approach looks at four categories: academic proficiency, student growth, progress in closing achievement gaps, and graduation rates. The new system evaluates only the performance of Title I schools — those where at least 40 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches, a common measurement of poverty. The highest-performing 15 percent of Title I schools in the state, or 127, were named ‘reward schools.’ The 10 percent of Title I schools doing the poorest on Minnesota’s achievement gap, 85 in all, were designated ‘focus schools.’ And the bottom 5 percent of the most persistently underperforming Title I schools, 42 in all, were designated ‘priority schools.’ ”

At the PiPress, Christopher Magan and MaryJo Webster write: “Principal Barbara Kearn has exciting news about student achievement to deliver to Willow Lane Elementary teachers at their morning staff meeting in White Bear Lake. The school of more than 300 students began the week on the list of Minnesota schools not making ‘adequate yearly progress’ toward math and reading standards, putting it at risk of being labeled failing under the federal No Child Left Behind law. … Willow Lane’s designation changed Tuesday … when the state Department of Education unveiled Multiple Measurement Ratings, the state’s new way of grading schools. Under the new measures, Willow Lane is a school state education officials say should be emulated. ‘I think their jaws will drop open.’ Kearn said of the reaction she anticipates from her teachers. … Willow Lane is an example of why critics said the federal law was so flawed that Minnesota and 25 other states received waivers to write their own evaluation systems.”

The GleanAt the Strib, Kim McGuire and Steve Brandt file on the new standings, saying: “There could be some surprises in the new ratings. Some schools that performed poorly enough to win federal school improvement grants will do better when more factors are considered, Kramer said. Meanwhile, wealthier schools that traditionally post high test scores may not look as good on the comparison of how much improvement their students are making year to year, said David Heistad, research director for Minneapolis schools. ‘There are some schools we’re seeing in the data that are going to be pretty alarmed,’ Kramer said, referring to some high-testing schools that score low on the added measures. Minneapolis research specialist Chris Moore said that the old method of rating school performance mainly on test scores created a focus on ‘bubble kids,’ those just above or below testing proficient. But measuring growth makes every student’s progress count more, he said.”

Frankly, I wasn’t aware “campaign season” ever stopped. Bill Salisbury’s PiPress story on “filing day” says: “After signing an affidavit of candidacy and plunking down a $100 check at the secretary of state’s office, state Sen. John Howe pronounced, ‘The campaign season starts right now.’ At least political wannabes could become official candidates starting Tuesday… when the filing period for more than 1,000 federal, state and local offices opened in Minnesota. Filings close at 5 p.m. June 5. … The second and third people in line at the State Office Building were a pair of congressional candidates: Republican state Sen. Mike Parry of Waseca, who’s running in the 1st District, and former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan of Crosby, a Democrat campaigning in the 8th District. Nolan was lucky Parry was there. He had to borrow the Republican’s reading glasses to fill out his filing forms.”

Tim Post of MPR revisits a story that played briefly last winter. He writes: “On the front lines are school counselors, whose jobs is to help students with problems before a crisis occurs. But that’s difficult in Minnesota, which has one of the largest ratios of students to school counselors in the nation — and a shortage of community counselors who treat children. According to the Minnesota Association of School Counselors, the average ratio of students to counselors in the state is about 800 to 1. ‘Minnesota is second to last in the nation as far as the ratio goes,’ said Kay Hertling Wahl, a professor of counseling at the University of Minnesota. The lopsided student-to-counselor ratio makes it difficult for counselors to be effective in dealing with things like depression, addiction or bullying, Herting Wahl said.”

I love a good list. This one says we’re dang bike-friendly. Frederick Melo at the PiPress reports: “The League of American Bicyclists announced Tuesday … that Minnesota ranks as the second most bicycle-friendly state in the nation. That’s an improvement from 2010 and 2011, when the state came in No. 4. It held fifth place for two years prior. An announcement about the announcement was circulated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which helped earn the state high marks on the league’s ‘score card’ because of its bike-friendly programs and policies. The league wrote in the score card: ‘From the Mississippi River Trail bikeway and DOT’s supportive policies, to Nice Ride bike sharing and the Blue Skunk Polo Club — Minnesota loves bicycles.’ The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manages more than 600 miles of paved bicycle trails and adds about 10 miles per year, making the state the ‘Best Trails State’ in the nation, according to the league.”

Well, someone has to put their name on it … Eric Roper of the Strib writes: “Minneapolis’ City Attorney Susan Segal has put in writing her argument why the city does not have to hold a referendum on the Vikings stadium, despite a requirement in the city’s charter. Segal’s formal opinion is moot in some senses, since the final stadium legislation includes a provision to override the city’s charter. But Segal said she wrote it as though that provision was not included. … The referendum requirement has long been the glue holding together stadium opponents on the Minneapolis City Council. … In her opinion, Segal argues that the relevant suite of stadium taxes — citywide sales tax, downtown restaurant and liquor taxes, and a hotel tax — are not a “city resource” since the city cannot control the revenues. Others, like state Rep. Diane Loeffler and Council Member Gary Schiff, dispute that assertion.”  They could seriously shorten the city charter by just culling out everything than can be overriden when deemed inconvenient.

Wait a minute … Pennsylvania? Our man Denny has been moved again. Says Dee DePass in the Strib: “In a case reminiscent of ‘follow-the-bouncing-ball,’ imprisoned auto dealer Denny Hecker has been moved yet again, this time from a holdover prison in Oklahoma to a prison about 145 miles north of Philadelphia. Officials from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons confirmed they relocated Hecker Monday night to the U.S. Penitentiary in Canaan, Penn. The prison has a satellite minimum-security prison camp, and it is believed that is where Hecker is being held. The move marks the sixth prison for Hecker since he was first arrested in October 2010. It is his fifth prison in four months.” Denny should write a travel book.

Comments (2)

  1. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 05/22/2012 - 02:51 pm.

    ‘Segal argues that the relevant suite of stadium taxes — citywide sales tax, downtown restaurant and liquor taxes, and a hotel tax — are not a “city resource” since the city cannot control the revenues.’

    Maybe someone on this site can answer who DOES control those taxes? I thought the city controlled it’s own sales tax, but I understand the liquor, hotel and restaurant taxes go somewhere else. I assume those go to some public development fund for things like the convention center.

  2. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 05/22/2012 - 04:01 pm.

    Sega;. et al…

    Where were all these people when that referendum bill was getting passed? It was passed for this specific reason and now they claim it doesn’t apply. So depending on what city attorney interprets a law, so goes the law? Why don’t they hold a city charter vote on: Do the Minnesota Vikings enhance our quality of life? Then it will be a law and every city that makes it a law can help pay for the stadium.

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