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Jewish school still is the plan

By Staff | Apr 24, 2010

Jerry Jensen

How soon a school for at-risk Jewish teen girls planned in Bricelyn opens may depend on a meeting held on Thursday.

United South Central School District superintendent Jerry Jensen told school board members Tuesday night that he and the school’s director, Kimberly Testa, will meet with state education officials.

“The academy is counting on getting the Department of Education to see their side of the argument. Hopefully we’ll be able to get some answers and know where we are going,” says Jensen.

At issue is whether Minnesota graduation or national accreditation standards should be used.

“State officials haven’t been real clear whether it is advantageous for our students to get a Minnesota diploma. Most of them will be from the East Coast,” Testa says.

The academy would be licensed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) as a care/treatment facility and would not be allowed to operate as a school.

In the past, Jensen has said the district is not responsible for running the academy’s educational program. But, he is helping evaluate on-line high school curriculum.

Before Thursday’s meeting, DHS officials plan to make an onsite visit to the school on Wednesday.

Testa says getting approval from both agencies is needed before the facility can open.

“This is just another hurdle we have to go through, We’re anxious to open and help young girls get their diplomas and mend relationships with their families,” she says.

In other business, board members approved the district’s strategic plan.

For the past several months, residents of the district, elected public officials, faculty, school board members and district administrators have worked on the 30-page document with the Watson Consulting Group.

Goals for schools in the district were established in the areas of curriculum, resources, enrollment, leadership, communication/promotion and finances.

Committee members plan to meet April 28 to discuss implementation of the plan.

Board members also OK’d a preliminary 5-year capital outlay plan.

Next year, building and grounds projects totaling $139,000 are scheduled.

Roof repairs will cost $50,000 and $50,000 will be spent on tuckpointing.

“The resources spent have been very, very minimal for the past few years,” says Jensen. “There are more problems out there that we can address with the resources we have.”

In 2011-12, there will be $136,500 in building and grounds projects, with another $50,000 going for tuckpointing. Replacing the kitchen floor, hall flooring and boys’ restroom partitions are expected to each cost $15,000.

In the final three years of the plan, $150,000 is budgeted each year for building and grounds projects.

Some of the larger ground improvements include resurfacing the running track in 2011-12 for $70,000 and both gym floors for $35,000.

The following year, $400,000 will be spent to resurface the tennis courts.