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St. Paul district to announce school consolidation plan

Plus: court’s ditch decision could affect as many as 500 waterways across Minnesota; Texas agency recommends posthumous pardon of George Floyd for 2004; Deephaven mayor found dead in home following welfare check; and more.

Central High School in St. Paul
MinnPost file photo by Erin Hinrichs

Josh Verges writes for the Pioneer Press: “With too many schools and too few students, St. Paul Public Schools leaders next week will unveil plans to start consolidating next fall. The goal is to reach a minimum of 450 students in every elementary school — three sections per grade — and 720 in middle schools, so that every school can offer a baseline of support staff, as well as teacher specialists in the arts, science, gifted education and more. … Superintendent Joe Gothard said the district will have to close and combine some schools in order to ‘create the schools our students deserve.’ … The last time the district considered closing a school, in 2016, the school board rejected the plan on a 4-3 vote, the same night they fired Valeria Silva as superintendent.”

This from MPR: “Minnesota’s summer-fall COVID-19 surge stubbornly refuses to crest. The latest data shows new and active cases continuing to climb above levels Minnesota saw during its mid-April wave. Equally concerning: The rate of tests coming back positive for the disease is now higher than it’s been since January. The Health Department’s daily count of known, active cases climbed to 21,909 on Monday, reaching its highest point so far in 2021. … Central and western Minnesota have the lowest vaccination rates and highest case rates.”

Writes Jennifer Bjorhus of the Star Tribune: “A creek winding through the fields in Renville County is a public water, not a ditch, and the Minnesota Court of Appeals says the county must evaluate the environmental impacts of a proposed drainage project that farmers want. … The decision, released Monday, is a victory for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, which challenged the county’s decision not to do an environmental review. It could also influence the fate of other river and creek segments scattered around the state that were accidentally marked as ditches on public waters inventory maps years ago. The mistake affects some 500 waterways, and is something the DNR has been seeking to correct.”

The AP reports: “A Texas agency on Monday approved a request that George Floyd be granted a posthumous pardon for a 2004 drug arrest made by a now-indicted ex-Houston police officer whose case history is under scrutiny following a deadly drug raid. The unanimous recommendation by the seven member Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles will now be forwarded to Gov. Greg Abbott, who will make the final decision. It was not clear when Abbott would decide the fate of the request.”

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KSTP-TV’s Eric Rasmussen reports: “Just a few months after being sworn in as the new police chief in Big Lake, Matt Hayen is on paid administrative leave while the city investigates a complaint against him, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has learned. … Big Lake City Council members appointed Hayen as Chief in July. He had been second in command at the police department before Chief Joel Scharf resigned in April.… The Big Lake Police Department faced scrutiny in February when 5 INVESTIGATES found it cited ‘civil unrest’ as justification for spending thousands of dollars of federal COVID relief money on riot gear. But Big Lake has also touted itself as one of the safest cities in the state based on some measurements of crime.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Kim Hyatt writes: “The small, tightknit community of Deephaven is stunned by the sudden death of Mayor Paul Skrede, who was found dead in his home last week after the city administrator called the police chief to do a welfare check. …  Skrede, 75, was found on the floor of his Azure Road home Tuesday, but he could have been dead for as long as a week. Some sort of cardiac event caused the death and there was no indication of foul play, Johnson said.”

Says a BringMeTheNews story, “The Cleveland Browns powered their way to a 14-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday. Their victory was fueled, it turns out, by one of Minnesota’s signature restaurants. Former Vikings assistant coach Kevin Stefanski is currently head coach of the Browns. And according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Stefanski got a Twin Cities hotspot to cater the team meal Saturday. … Revival Fried Chicken, the highly-acclaimed, successful restaurant that first opened in Minneapolis in 2015, and was apparently one of Stefanski’s ‘go-to spots’ when he lived in Minnesota. ”

Also from the AP: “Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials on Monday dramatically scaled back the number of wolves hunters can kill during the state’s fall season in open defiance of its policy board. The move marked another clash between the DNR’s liberal-leaning administration and the conservative-leaning board, and it came after animal welfare advocates sued in state and federal court to block the hunt. The season is set to start Nov. 6.”