Reporter's notebook

Shakopee Public Schools shelled out $71,913 last year for an independent investigation of the district’s “operational health” — otherwise known as “the NeuVest report.”

Readers who followed the drama in the school district last year might remember the Shakopee School Board hiring a company in April called NeuVest to do the investigation. At the time, we knew the NeuVest would charge $275 per hour, but we didn’t know the total price tag. Now we do. Unfortunately, we still don’t know much about what’s in the report, because when the 364-page document was released in August, most of it was redacted. At the time, school officials said the report cost nearly $57,000.

- Amanda McKnight

Former Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke has been reappointed to the Transportation Advisory Board for the Metropolitan Council.

The board was created in 1974 to help plan transportation for the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The appointment was approved on Jan. 24; he was first appointed to the council in 2015.

And Tabke isn’t stopping there — he also ran an online seminar titled “5 Things You Wanted to Know (But Were Afraid to Ask) About Running for Local Office” on Feb. 3.

- Maggie Stanwood

As the Shakopee Valley News tweeted about the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in late January, we were surprised by one person who “liked” our tweets.

Interim Superintendent Gary Anger “liked” several staff tweets about the numerous awards Valley News reporters won for coverage of former Superintendent Rod Thompson’s questionable spending habits, which ultimately culminated in his arrest and numerous charges now pending in court. Anger has largely stayed quiet on the subject, and is generally pretty supportive of all things Shakopee, but his Twitter stamp of approval definitely caught our attention.

- Deena Winter

Burnsville High School recently hosted a career expo and, as a reporter, I got a front row seat to the kinds of decisions 10th-graders have to make.

Teenagers perused the activities center at BHS, where professionals worked booths representing their fields and workplaces.

I led a booth representing journalism and Southwest News Media. Kids stopped by to grab candy, look at newspapers spread out on a table and ask questions about what it’s like to be a reporter.

The 10th graders — 650 who filled the room in three different waves over the course of two hours — dropped by each booth they were interested in. They naturally gravitated to some booths more than others. There was a good amount of interest in journalism and I excitedly told them how fun it is to cover everything from crime to government to education and more.

The most impressive student I encountered was a bright young woman who introduced herself by shaking my hand and immediately telling me her big dreams. She wants to write for National Geographic. How could she do that, she asked.

I’m of the belief that people should always dream big and let nothing stand in the way of their goals, and follow their hearts along the way. Even if their trajectory doesn’t make sense to others, if you’re following your heart and dreams, you’re on track.

I told her about a professional freelancing group that helps out people who want to write for major publications like the New Yorker and the New York Times. I said the facilitator of the group would be very open to hearing from her. I also suggested perhaps a double major in journalism and international relations could be a good idea if she wants to travel.

There were many engaged students that day. The high school’s new curriculum approach, called Pathways, encourages students to explore career options early. This is good, considering how expensive it can be to explore during college.

As a reporter, I’ve extensively covered the curriculum approach. But as a professional helping students consider their options in the field of journalism, it was fun and interesting to have an insider’s view of how high school students think and what they are dreaming about.

- Britt Johnsen


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