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West Siders call for school investment after district drops Montessori program

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West Siders call for school investment after district drops Montessori program

In a virtual meeting Thursday with St. Paul Public Schools leaders, residents of the city’s West Side bemoaned last-minute changes to the district’s schools consolidation plan that figure to take scores of students out of the neighborhood’s two elementary schools.

Superintendent Joe Gothard’s “Envision SPPS” was supposed to strengthen West Side’s Cherokee Heights and Riverview schools and establish strong ties to nearby Humboldt middle and high schools.

The struggling Montessori program at Cherokee Heights would move to J.J. Hill in the Summit-University neighborhood; students in Riverview’s community program would slide over to Cherokee Heights; and Riverview’s Spanish dual-language immersion program would get an influx of students as Wellstone school closed.

But in response to an outcry from Wellstone parents, the school board last month voted to keep that school open. Students wouldn’t be moving into the West Side, after all, but the Montessori program still is moving out.

The changes, which take effect this fall, could leave the two West Side schools with fewer than 400 students — roughly one-third of their combined capacity.

“I don’t see how this is helping when it’s directly taking families away,” West Side parent Shannon Johnson said Thursday.

Community member Carlo Franco said the consolidation plan went through a “confusing process,” and the decision to take students out of the West Side came without warning.

“We need to be involved in decisions, especially when we’re talking about closing whole programs,” he said.

LIST OF DEMANDS

Franco presented a list of demands, which include investments in West Side schools, real community engagement and no program changes until there’s a long-term plan to minimize disruption.

Gothard said the administration can’t reverse the board’s vote, and the district already is planning for next year. Besides the West Side program changes, five schools across the city are closing.

But Gothard said a potential preschool expansion — funded either at the city, state or federal level — would address some of the child care barriers keeping some families from enrolling on the West Side.

Some parents said their schools need before- and after-school care run by the district, but Chief Operations Officer Jackie Turner said there hasn’t been nearly enough parent interest to cover the costs of running Discovery Club. She said it’s possible the Boys and Girls Club will start taking 4-year-olds, and she promised to work with private child care providers to find options for families.

Turner also said the district has added another preschool class at Riverview this fall to help the school grow its enrollment. She said they could do the same for Cherokee Heights if there’s enough interest.

MOVES AREN’T ‘FOR US’

One parent said she settled on the West Side in part because the Montessori method worked well for her children. She said she doesn’t understand why the program is leaving next year.

Turner said Montessori programs cost about twice as much as general education, and the program at Cherokee Heights hasn’t attracted enough students.

“With the amount of money that it takes to run a Montessori program, we cannot have an enrollment that is not sustainable,” she said.

Turner estimated that half of Cherokee Heights families want to preserve Montessori, while the rest are happy to see it go.

Franco said it’s nothing new for the district to mistreat the West Side. The community had to rally to save Humboldt High School some 50 years ago, he said, and the surprise 2012 announcement that Roosevelt would reopen as Riverview came “without community dialogue.”

He offered a slogan he said encapsulates what West Siders have been feeling since the board vote: “Nothing about us, without us, is for us.”

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Magic looking for luck to turn their way in NBA’s draft lottery

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Magic looking for luck to turn their way in NBA’s draft lottery

The Orlando Magic know as well as any other team the luck and misfortune that can come with the NBA’s draft lottery.

They’re hoping luck will turn their way for the first time in over a decade during Tuesday’s 38th installment of the lottery. The lottery will start at 8 p.m. in Chicago and will be broadcast on ESPN.

The Magic were on the receiving end of a lot of luck in their infancy, winning back-to-back No. 1 picks in 1992 and ‘93 — selections that led to Orlando drafting Shaquille O’Neal and acquiring Penny Hardaway, the linchpins of the Magic’s early success in the mid-90s.

The Magic later won the ‘04 lottery, leading to the drafting of Dwight Howard, the backbone of six consecutive playoffs appearances, including the 2009 Finals.

Since then, the Magic have either stayed at or fallen from their pre-lottery positioning.

While it isn’t known if this year’s draft class will have the kind of franchise-changing prospects that could propel the Magic to similar success they’ve experienced in previous decades, better positioning in the lottery — or even winning it — would help set them up for greater success after finishing the 2021-22 season with their worst record since 2012-13.

“Our goals remain the same, which are to develop these young guys,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said during an interview on FM 96.9 The Game’s Open Mike with the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi. “Everybody says you need stars in this league. Sometimes stars don’t always reveal themselves instantly.

“There are still evaluations to be made. There are still a lot of improvements that our guys have to make and that’s going to take a lot of work. And it’s going to take time. I don’t really think we recalibrate our goals going into the season. We ramp them up, we challenge our guys to get better, and from a team-building standpoint, obviously, we’ll look to add more. We’ll [soon] find out in about a month where we sit in the lottery and it’ll be an exciting offseason.”

Here are three things to know ahead of Tuesday:

Magic’s lottery odds

The Magic are tied for the best odds (14%) of winning the No. 1 pick in the draft.

With the league’s second-worst record at 22-60, Orlando has a 52.1% chance of securing a top-four pick in the June 23 draft. The pick won’t fall below No. 6.

The Magic’s odds for landing in spots No. 1-6: No. 1: 14.0%; No. 2: 13.4%; No. 3: 12.7%; No. 4: 12%; No. 5: 27.8%; No. 6: 20%.

How they’ve fared in the past

After early success with the lottery, the Magic haven’t had success moving up the draft order in their last nine tries. Here’s Orlando’s history with the lottery:

2021 — 5th (3rd in pre-lottery positioning); 2018 — 6th (6th); 2017 — 6th (5th); 2016 — 11th (11th); 2015 — 5th (5th); 2014 — 4th (3rd); 2013 — 2nd (1st); 2006 — 11th (11th); 2005 — 11th (11th); 2004 — 1st (1st); 2000 — 5th (3rd); 1998 — 12th (12th); 1993 — 1st (11th); 1992 — 1st (2nd); 1991 — 10th (10th); 1990 — 3rd (4th).

Lottery format

Drawings are done to determine the draft’s first four picks. The remainder of the lottery teams will get draft picks in spots 5 through 14 in the inverse order of their regular-season records.

Under the format that started with the 2019 draft, the team with the worst record (Houston Rockets) will receive no worse than the fifth pick.

The Magic, along with the Rockets and the Detroit Pistons — the team’s with the three-worst records — all have a 14% chance of winning the lottery under the current format.

During the previous format, the team with the worst record had a 25% of getting the No. 1 pick.

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Candidate in hospital, others scrambling before Pa. primary

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Candidate in hospital, others scrambling before Pa. primary

By MARC LEVY and MICHAEL RUBINKAM

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — The last full day of campaigning in Pennsylvania’s hotly contested primaries for governor and U.S. Senate began Monday with a top Senate candidate in the hospital and establishment Republicans trying to stave off victories by candidates they worry will be unelectable in the fall.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is leading in polls and fundraising in the Democratic Party’s primary for U.S. Senate, remained in the hospital Monday after suffering a stroke right before the weekend.

His campaign said he won’t appear at Tuesday’s election night party in Pittsburgh, though Fetterman said Sunday that he is feeling better, expected to make a full recovery and will resume campaigning after getting some rest.

Meanwhile, new attack ads are airing against late-surging Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kathy Barnette as many in the Republican Party establishment have begun trying to consolidate their support to prevent Doug Mastriano from winning the party’s gubernatorial nomination in the presidential battleground state.

Some Republicans fear Barnette and Mastriano are too polarizing to beat Democratic opponents in a general election. Barnette and Mastriano have campaigned together, endorsed each other and promoted conspiracy theories, including former President Donald Trump’s lies that widespread voter fraud cost him the 2020 election.

They also have spent a fraction of the money that some of their rivals have.

The scrambling reflects the high stakes of Tuesday’s elections in Pennsylvania and the uncertainty that has rattled the campaigns in the last week amid news of Fetterman’s hospitalization and last-minute jockeying in the Republican primaries.

In the governor’s race, an organization that has reported spending about $13 million to boost Republican candidate Bill McSwain, a lawyer who was Donald Trump’s appointee for U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, switched its allegiance to former congressman Lou Barletta barely two days before polls close.

Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, a business advocacy group whose political action committees are conduits for cash from billionaire Jeffrey Yass, said it believes Barletta has the best chance to beat Mastriano. The group is now calling on McSwain to drop out and endorse Barletta.

Mastriano, newly endorsed by Trump, belittled efforts by Republicans to defeat him and characterizes Democrats, including President Joe Biden, as far-left radicals.

“The swamp struck back, but they struck and they failed, they missed, and Donald Trump came in in the midst of their conspiring with each other’s swamp-like creatures and endorsed me and cut the legs out from underneath them,” Mastriano said in an interview Monday with the Light of Liberty podcast.

Meanwhile, in the hard-fought Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Barnette worked to fend off growing attacks from former hedge fund CEO David McCormick and heart surgeon-turned-TV celebrity Mehmet Oz, Trump’s endorsed candidate.

Barnette said on conservative Breitbart Radio on Monday that “I’m not a globalist, both of them are” and that they have “very strong ties to the World Economic Forum,” an organization that has been the subject of right-wing conspiracy theories.

They are pretending to be “Trump card-carrying members of the patriot party,” she said, and she called Oz — he was born in the United States to parents who emigrated from Turkey and holds dual citizenship — “not only an American, but Turkish as well.”

“Globalist” is a derogatory term with an antisemitic origin adopted by Trump and others in his orbit to conjure up an elite, international coterie that doesn’t serve America’s best interests.

Barnette also suggested on Breitbart Radio that she would not support Oz or McCormick if they win the primary, saying, “I have no intentions of supporting globalists.”

However, she later seemed to contradict herself, telling reporters in Scranton: “I do believe they are globalists, and I find that very unnerving. But … I will do everything I can for the GOP in order to make sure we win, and make sure Democrats do not win.”

Trump’s endorsements of both Mastriano and Oz have twisted Pennsylvania’s Republican establishment into contradictions, as some warn that Mastriano is too far to the right to beat Democrat Josh Shapiro in the fall general election.

Trump himself has warned that Barnette cannot win in the fall — yet Mastriano is campaigning with her. In a telephone townhall Monday night with Oz, Trump warned that when Barnette is “vetted, it’s going to be a catastrophe for the party.”

With polls showing a late surge for Barnette, Trump’s attacks reflected an eleventh-hour behind-the-scenes scramble by Trump allies and rival campaigns to discredit her. If elected, she would be the first Black Republican woman to serve in the Senate.

On Monday, the Oz campaign sent out a 90-second robocall to Republican voters featuring Trump urging them to vote for Oz and attacking McCormick and Barnette as “not candidates who put America First,” Trump’s label for his governing philosophy.

In addition to new attack ads targeting Barnette, she is being asked about a history of incendiary comments, which include disparaging Muslims and gays. She said her Islamophobic tweets were taken out of context.

She is also being asked whether she was involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol after participating in Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally that day. She was not, she said.

“It’s confusing to understand Kathy Barnette. Every time she answers a question, she raises many more,” Oz said on the “Brian Kilmeade Show” on Fox News Radio.

Barnette, speaking to several dozen supporters at a Scranton hotel Monday evening, said her rivals are lying about her because she is winning.

“Do you really want to hear more smear attacks, more attacks, throwing people under the bus, using leftist-like tactics to try to destroy one of their own?” Barnette questioned.

McCormick, a decorated U.S. Army combat veteran who has strong connections to the party establishment going back to his service in President George W. Bush’s administration, has also been criticized repeatedly by Trump in the last two weeks.

Nevertheless, McCormick is closing the campaign by airing a TV ad showing a video clip of Trump in a private 2020 ceremony congratulating McCormick, saying “you’ve served our country well in so many different ways.”

“You know why he said that,” McCormick says in the TV ad. “Because it’s true. I risked my life for America and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. … I’m a pro-life, pro-gun, America First conservative and damn proud of it.”

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Follow AP for full coverage of the midterms at and on Twitter at

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Levy reported from Harrisburg, Pa. Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at

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Gophers make top four schools for prized recruit Jaxon Howard

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Gophers make top four schools for prized recruit Jaxon Howard

The Gophers football program made the top four options for prized in-state recruit Jaxon Howard on Monday.

The four-star prospect from Robbinsdale Cooper High School put Minnesota alongside Miami (Fla.), Louisiana State and Michigan. He plans to take official visits in June and make a decision in July.

“The past three years, I’ve been blessed to be offered by over 60 amazing colleges,” Howard wrote on social media. “I built genuine relationships with so many coaches and value all the time they have spent with me. After 41 unofficial visits and much prayer, I have narrowed my top four.”

RELATED: How Gophers are making case for Jaxon Howard’s commitment 

If Howard, the No. 1 recruit in the state of Minnesota, committed to Minnesota, he would be the second-highest rated pledge, behind only Minneapolis Washburn running back Jeff Jones, per 247sports.com’s composite rankings.

Howard, who could play tight end or defensive end in college, is listed at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds; he is the son of Willie Howard, who played defensive end at Stanford and was drafted in the second round by the Vikings in 2001.

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