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Bricelyn Jewish school closes

By Staff | Sep 25, 2011

Minnesota Girls Academy in Bricelyn has closed its doors.

The main reason — not enough students.

“I was concerned that during the summer months their numbers had dwindled,” says Jerry Jensen, superintendent of United South Central School District.

“The program is kind of on hold. School officials said they’re hoping to re-open, but it be will months,” he adds.

A.Y. Weinberg, founder of the academy and executive director of the school’s

parent company Project Extreme, says they are still committed to Bricelyn.

He says they bought a house last month to bring the total number of houses they own to six in addition to the old Bricelyn school.

“We think it’s a shame because we employed local people,” he says. “We’re not pulling up stakes and leaving.”

When the school closed, there was a full-time staff of 10.

Weinberg says tough economic times have made it difficult to raise funds and get government support for student scholarships.

“We are reorganizing and doubling our efforts to be able to raise funds,” he adds.

The academy’s closing comes some eight months after opening.

“They started with five students, but most of the time they had four,” says Jensen, adding the school was licensed for a maximum of six.

The school provided residential care and program services for Jewish girls ages 13 to 17 with emotional and behavioral problems.

An agreement between the district and academy was signed to offer online courses through Minnesota Online High School, with classes held in offices at City Hall.

Jensen told School Board members Tuesday night the district has been reimbursed for any educational programming costs.

In fact, academy officials have made weekly payments to the district totaling about $14,000, more than the $9,500 incurred.

In other business:

• Board members approved a maximum levy limit of a 2.21 percent increase for 2011.

The tax amount collected will increase nearly $33,000 over last year, from $1.486 million to $1.519 million.

• Elementary school principal Tracy Frank reported on some results of Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments tests.

Students are scored in four standard levels: does not meet; partially meets; meets; and exceeds.

The tests are used to determine if school districts are making Adequate Yearly Progress required by the federal No Child Left Behind Law.

Frank says the results are preliminary and the district does not know if it made AYP.

“There are a few things we find that are concerning to us. There is a large gap between free-reduced meal students and non-free-reduced,” she says.

For example, for the district 47 percent of the free-reduced students were proficient in math, compared to nearly 69 percent for the non-free-reduced.

Third-grade showed the largest gaps.

In math, nearly 53 percent of free-reduced were proficient, while nearly 96 percent of non-free-reduced were. Reading also had a 53 percent for the free-reduced students and nearly 91 percent of the non-free-reduced.

In 2011 high school test results, USC fared well.

In ninth-grade writing scores, 93 percent of the students met graduation requirements while the state average was 89 percent.

In reading, 84 percent of the 10th-graders were proficient compared to 75 percent statewide. And, nearly 66 percent of USC’s 11th-graders passed the math test, compared to the 49 percent statewide average.

For science the results were:

• 40 percent of USC’s fifth-graders were proficient, while 46 percent of the state’s students were.

• 30 percent of the district’s eighth-graders passed, compared to 44 percent statewide.

• nearly 59 percent of the 10th-graders passed, more than the statewide average of 54 percent.