Minneapolis Graphic Design : Web Designer Secrets

Learn All About Minneapolis Web Design Process

The Most Important Factor to Build up Your Firm
Well! You may see a lot of web design firms open in recent time. However, not all of them can last to 3 or 5 years. In this post I will go to explorer the most important step to outstanding profit in your own web design Co. When you open a company, you may think about how to hire the good resource, where we can locate the office, and how to get the client pay attention to your services.  Nowadays, website has become an essential part of any business operation and clients expect any business to have a website. However, many business owners today are still not realizing how important website is for their businesses. Therefore, in my point of view, the website is the most important factor to make a web design firm can be successful.

You will need a great website. Of course, that is really funny if a web design company do not have any impressive website to promote their services. Your website must look professional to anyone who lands on it, or you will lose credibility in seconds. Never think that a cheap amateurish website will be good enough. First impressions are everything and at the least are very important - especially on the web - where people can simply click and leave within seconds. Better to have them so impressed with your professionalism that they will stay around and find out more about your offer.

If you're new to the business and you don't know what your site should look like, it's easy to find out what a good-looking website looks like. You may think about some people around who are running one or many nice websites. In other word, you may contact with someone who has already built their own website. Look at their website, and see what parts about it appeals to you and how the content can be displayed. Perhaps you like the way that they designed the navigation or how they had laid out the page. You may get some features on the website that you would like to try on yours. Besides, you may also do a Google search for companies that do what you do. Remember that: don't look in your own city. If you open Minneapolis web design firm, don't spend time to looking for the designs of your competitors in this city. Search on a national level, or search for sites in other big cities. Find the best looking sites you can find related to web design, or any other industry when you're doing a site for a client, and look at what makes them great.

Look at the home page, and the impression it makes. Look at what pages these sites have. Look at the types of photos and graphics they have. Look at the fonts they use. Look at the colors and color palate (combination of colors) they use. Most industries have colors that work well and colors that do not. For instance you would not build a site for a surgeon in blood-red. Figure out the best colors for your site based on what the best in your industry are using.

Just list your favorites and compose a text document that describes what your perfect site should look like. After all, give this information to the web designer on your team, or build a great site yourself. If you're not an experienced designer, believe it or not, there are ways to create a super site without even knowing how to write code.

When you web design process get done, just give it to as many people as possible to check it out; and then get their feed back. If most of them impressive with the design, the potential client will may also impressive with your product. So, with an impressive website, you will easy to find client and convince them to use your services.

Benefits of a Professionally Web Design
Today, people always go online to compare and learn about the products/services they need before making the purchase online or offline.  The consumers also expect all businesses to have a website; thus, it is important to bring your business online and market your products/services effectively to your targeted customers. A good web designer or a website designing firm can offer a number of benefits to a website owner. In my point of view, a skillful  website design:

   - Is presentable, functional, responsive, easy to navigate and designed to meet your requirements and targets.These are definitely the first impressions for a visitor that can result in the best impression and a fruitful client-customer relationship in the future. Remember a website owner typically intends to drive quality traffic, generate sales and earn profits. With a professionally done website, achieving these is a lot more easier and definitely possible.

  -  Can create a wonderful visual language that will help drive more traffic to your site while also increasing customer engagement and luring visitors to click on your call of action to buy your product/service. In short, with your positives and expertise highlighted, a visitor is clearer about your intentions, what you do, what you are good at and what you are directing him/her to do.

  -  Uses logo, menus, sub-menus and social media profiles, fonts and colour scheme in the best possible way, while giving an aligned structure and placing the call for action button in the most suitable position. This not only matters a lot in terms of present ability, readability and functionality of a website but are also some of the nuances that help in pulling free traffic to your site and converting leads to real customers.

   - Gives a professional touch to your website, which aids in building your identity and consistent brand online.

   - Gives a distinction or uniqueness when compared to your competitors.

   - Is search-engine friendly.

   - Has less bug problems, is viewable across a number of browsers and reduces your maintenance time.

   -  often price fairly which enable you to compare web design price among other providers. One word of advice: Do NOT let “lowest price” be the only criteria in your decision; instead, try to go for the “midrange prices” because it will help you avoid the mistake that many people made and learned the hard way like the old saying: “What you paid is what you get”      

All the above benefits are things that a regular person, with limited web designing knowledge is not able to achieve to its optimum and also the reason why many bloggers and small time businesses suffer from reaching their targets.

Most of Minneapolis water pipes a century old
Most of the thousand miles of water pipes that snake through Minneapolis are close to a century old, including the downtown pipe that broke Tuesday, sending 90,000 gallons of water gushing into the streets near Target Center.

That pipe is so old that it was built the same year ­— 1889 — that North Dakota and South Dakota became states and the Eiffel Tower was finished in Paris.

But city water officials insist that the age of the pipes is not linked to any serious problems and matters far less than other conditions, such as the type of soil in which the pipes are embedded.

“Age is not an indication of bad pipe,” said Mark Ebert, general foreman for city water distribution.

This week’s incident — the second prominent water main break so far this year, and one of about 40 yearly — shut down the sports arena, along with Life Time Fitness and Hubert’s Bar and Grill, for most of the day as crews worked to repair a giant sinkhole on 2nd Avenue N. between 6th and 7th Streets.

In St. Paul, which has up to 1,200 miles of water mains, breaks have averaged 140 to 150 in each of the past 20 years. But that number has been shrinking, and last year the city recorded a low of 105 breaks, said Steve Schneider, general manager of St. Paul Regional Water Services.

He attributed the downward trend to the city’s annual replacement program, which aims to replace 11 to 12 miles of mains in a long-term effort to renew St. Paul’s underground infrastructure every 100 years. Minneapolis’ replacement program is comparable.

Mystery break

Like Minneapolis, the vast majority of pipes replaced in St. Paul are made of cast iron, which is more corrosive than newer materials such as ductile iron and plastic. Last winter, a 16-inch cast iron water main broke overnight in downtown St. Paul, sending 1.75 million gallons of water down several blocks in the Lowertown area. Months later, it’s still unclear exactly what led to that break, Schneider said.

“It was a split that nobody here with all our years of experience had ever seen before, on both sides of the pipe and 8 feet long,” he said. “That type of break is typically caused by a pressure surge, but no one was working on the water system. We really don’t know what happened and probably never will.”

Crews will take a closer look at the pipe and the nearby soil conditions when they replace a three-block section of Lowertown water mains this fall, he said.

In Minneapolis, Ebert said the cast iron pipe that recently broke had deteriorated during a process called electrolysis, where a naturally occurring reaction between the metal and the soil softened the main and “you get just a chunk of metal popping out with the escalating pressure.”

About 800 miles of the city’s water pipes were installed before 1920, and the very oldest were built in the 1870s in the Mill District along the Mississippi River.

Grainy soil best

Minneapolis expects to spend $6.4 million on water distribution improvements this year, up from $5.3 million the two previous years, although that increase is driven by plans to replace hydrants and upgrade water meters.

Grainy soil can help a water main last hundreds of years, while clay soil leads to more breaks, said Marie Asgian, supervisor of Minneapolis water distribution.

Most of the city’s pipes are made of cast iron, which accumulates mineral deposits that build up from rust on the inside, discoloring the water and reducing the water volume. To remedy the problem, the city scrapes off the buildup and adds a ⅛-inch-thick cement lining to 8 to 10 miles of pipe annually.

That treatment is for stable pipes.

For those with a history of rupturing, Minneapolis has launched another treatment in recent years. The city has steadily applied to 3 miles of pipe a special structural liner made out of a fiberglass-type material commonly used in fire hoses, and coated with resin, that is stronger than even free-standing iron pipe. Workers have installed the liner in pipes along Glenwood Avenue, between Dupont and Logan Avenues N., that suffered multiple water main breaks and had many stainless steel repair clamps and new segments of pipe put in. Other parts of the city that have received the extra lining have been Edmund Boulevard, East River Parkway and 2nd Street between 16th and 18th Avenues NE. Water main breaks are more common along the river and downtown.

The city is beginning an analysis to see if enough money is going into its lining program for the pipes, said Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy, chairwoman of the public works committee.

“They are incredibly thick cast iron pipes. … They aren’t disintegrating,” she said. “Just the age shouldn’t be scary.”

Officials said that the pipe near Target Center had no history of breaking, and that the city will not install any supporting lining unless the pipe fractures again in the next decade.

That break was fairly normal, Asgian said, adding: “The only reason it seemed big to people is because Target Center was shut off and there was concern over the [Lynx] game.”

Web Development Is the Foundation of Online Marketing
It takes a lot of effort to reach out to the maximum number of customers in Minneapolis and elsewhere. It is even more difficult to persuade them to buy the products and services. In internet marketing, businesses have found a simple and effective solution. All they need are a clear-cut strategy and an immaculately designed website.

In fact, web design is the foundation of internet marketing. It will be obvious if we know the results it can deliver with a quick turnaround time.

There are many reasons why design is the answer to all the problems. Businesses can serve wide a customer base, regardless of any boundary. It can facilitate the communication between the business and its customers in real time. Online marketing and selling will reduce the shipping charges and cut back the expenditure for sale. Then, it can further promote the brand and the image as well.

Businesses have to mend only a few holes. They have to know the target audience and the demands. They have to be clear how they are different from their competitors. Unsurprisingly, web design in Minneapolis can take care of these requirements in the most creative ways.

More than 80 per cent of the customers buy products and services from trustworthy companies. For businesses, it means having a reliable image. The role of design lies in creating a brand that the customers can easily identify. Consistency is the key, whether it is the use of colors, fonts, appropriate pictures and the like.

Design is highly flexible, especially in internet marketing in Minneapolis, unlike other media. Further personalization gives an edge, as it helps in arranging the elements to suit a particular purpose. The overall result is in getting an image that is distinct, goal oriented as well as appealing.

An important area of design is the user experience element. A website is only as good as how the users can access it with ease. It is a comprehensive process of simplifying the navigation, developing a responsive design and enhancing the aesthetic sense.

Finally, design can accentuate the calls to action. It can help tremendously in turning the visitors into customers. Designers rely on web forms, sign-up boxes, call back boxes, subscription forms and others to increase the conversion rate. Alternatively, it attracts with the visual design and the magic of internet marketing is apparent in the quick results and the ability to measure it. Marketing and distribution are much easier with the online techniques, more clearly with the design solution.

Anoka preserve is a major proving ground in Minnesota's buckthorn battle
In a woodland a half-mile north of Anoka High School lie the remains of one of the great buckthorn battles of recent years.

Nearly half of the 200-acre Anoka Nature Preserve along the Rum River has been cleared of snagging buckthorn and other invasive plants since February. Twenty-two semitrailer truckloads of vegetation have been shredded and hauled away already, and a nearly equal amount — a football field-sized pile, 15-feet high — will soon be obliterated by a 95,000-pound, 1,000-horsepower mulching machine.

The $179,000 project is part of a pilot program launched in 2008 by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, with the aim of restoring habitat and reaping a fuel source in the process. Hundreds of acres in the metro area have been ridded of invasive plants, and the mulch has been used as fuel at the District Energy plant in St. Paul, said Barb Spears, coordinator of the DNR’s Woody Biomass Project, which ends this month.

For years, buckthorn has been removed largely with hand equipment and burned at the site. The DNR program “is an opportunity to get something good from buckthorn — bioenergy,” Spears said.

At the Anoka Nature Preserve, the scenic change is dramatic. Hundreds of white and bur oaks, buried last fall by a thorny wall, are now visible. Hillocks once submerged in the thick, green buckthorn now add graceful contours to the returning oak savanna.

“Before, the buckthorn was so dense you couldn’t see 30 feet ahead in the winter with all the gray stems. Now, you can see 250 feet and clearly see the big oak trees,” said Chris Lord, project manager for the Anoka Conservation District, which has overseen the project.

Soon, the stack of invasives will be gone, after the grinding machine turns them into mulch. It will take about 20 semitrailer trucks, each carrying about 20 tons, to haul the remaining material to St. Paul.

There it will help fire a boiler in the District Energy plant that provides steam heat and cooling for downtown homes and buildings, including the State Capitol, said Jeff Guillemette, biomass fuel manager for Environmental Wood Supply. Twenty truckloads would feed the boiler furnace for less than half a day, he said.

The Anoka project is one of 24 that have received $886,000 in state grants over the past five years to remove invasive plants from 706 acres of parks, preserves and other areas, Spears said. The DNR started the project in 2008 with a $500,000 grant from the Legislature. The program got an extension in 2010 with $600,000 in State Lottery funds set aside to preserve and improve natural areas.

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Ellen Anderson, a senior energy/environment adviser to Gov. Mark Dayton, is a former state senator who co-authored the bill that provided initial funding for the restoration-bioenergy project.

She said most project goals have been achieved: removing invasive species; creating a local, renewable fuel source; and improving wildlife habitat and landscapes in parks and natural areas. The missing piece was setting up a sustainable market for the woody materials removed, which compete against established fossil fuels.

“Eventually there will be a real strong market for more renewable materials, but the economics don’t quite work yet,” she said, noting that the invasive wood supply isn’t stable enough.

Program ending; efforts won’t

Although the DNR program ends June 30, state funds are still available through State Lottery and Legacy Amendment environmental grants to continue restoration and invasive plant-removal efforts, Spears said. “My emphasis through our projects has been to help people recognize and consider that when they plan a project, to call District Energy and see if they can use this material instead of piling and burning it on site.”

The Anoka Preserve project started last October when Sentencing to Service inmates and others applied $30,000 worth of herbicide over three weeks to trunks of the buckthorn, prickly ash, small eastern cedars and other invasive plants, Lord said. After the herbicide had time to soak into plant roots, removal work began in February. About 800 tons of brush and trees were sheared at the base, hauled out and stacked for shredding.

A relentless plant

Buckthorn is a persistent competitor. Its roots give off a toxin that weakens or prevents nearby plant growth, Lord noted. Its berries contain a laxative that causes birds to excrete them, spreading seeds.

At the Anoka site, buckthorn seeds that have accumulated in the soil will emerge in a year and a controlled burn is planned to remove them, making way for raspberry, Juneberry, hazelnut and other native plants, Lord said.

The biggest project the DNR helped fund was the removal of invasive plants from 134 acres at the Belwin Conservancy in Afton in 2009-11. That oak restoration project sent 5,400 tons to the St. Paul bioenergy plant.

Wild turkeys now roam in newly opened areas and more redheaded woodpeckers seem to be nesting, said Tara Kelly, Belwin’s director of ecological restoration. But the visual change is breathtaking. “You can see the forest for the trees now,” she said.

Wild turkeys also are seen browsing in the pruned Anoka preserve and rodent hunting is a lot easier for hawks, owls and other raptors, Lord said. The biggest advantage, however, will be stronger oak growth because tree roots won’t be affected by buckthorn toxins and the oaks will absorb precipitation previously shared with the invasive plants.

“There should be a much bigger crop of acorns,” Lord said. That will provide lots of snacks for deer and turkeys.

Source: startribune.com

Create a Free Website with a Blog
Whenever you need to express yourself on the web, a blog is probably the easiest way to do it. A blog is a mix of a standard website and a social media hub. In fact it is the easiest way to create a free website with a blog. This is because there are lots of free platforms for blogging and you can sign up on any of them to create your free website. Perhaps the most well-known service for bloggers is WordPress.com. There are literally thousands of people that use WordPress to design their free website. Signing up is easy, and you are provided with a user name and password that you can use to access the dashboard and start create a free website. Here you have multiple options to customize the design of your new free website because you are given access to thousands of free themes that will make the job of building your site a lot easier and straight forward. Most of the themes are fully customizable, and you can for example change the color scheme, or the pictures that compose it or even the original links. Once you decided on your theme (plus tweak it to your taste) it is time to move forward and give your new website some pages. In Wordpress this process is so simple, just click the Pages link and you are presented with options to put in the title of the page, insert links, pictures, add text, mark keywords and even write the description of that page. Indeed, the whole process to create a free website with a blog is so simple. Just make a few clicks and ready! You got yourself a brand new free website in a couple of minutes. Furthermore, you can move forward and install some plugins for your website, to make it more SEO friendly and thus ensuring you a good ranking on those search engines. Because the very next thing after you creates your free website is to go and promote it so that many people know about it and visit it regularly. I would recommend Google XML Sitemaps plugin and All in One SEO Pack plugin as a minimum to have on your website.

After you created your pages and activated some plugins it is time to actually make it a blog. To do that you must insert your first post (out of the many yet to come). This is again very easy to make. In order to create new posts and insert them in your new site you just have to go and click on the Posts link on your dashboard. Tip: create posts on a regularly base because the search engines love to see new content added to your newly created website. And of course users too; it is so nice to see every time new content added to your blog site and in such a short time your site will eventually become viral and attract a huge number of visitors daily. Just please make sure you use your admin rights from time to time and filter those nasty, spam comments. There are of course options to disable posts, but it is always better to let people talk free on your blog.

This is a very quick and simple way to create a free website with a blog. Join Wordpress or any other blog platform and start sharing your personality on the web today.

Source: articlesbase.com

Anti-incumbent momentum continues in Minneapolis
The biggest potential political shake-up in a decade steamed toward Minneapolis City Hall on Saturday, as a fourth City Council member failed to capture DFL endorsement for re-election.

Attorney Jacob Frey easily snagged the Ward 3 nod Saturday, after Diane Hofstede bowed out before the first ballot, calling the endorsement process “flawed.” Hofstede, who plans to run in the November election, is the fourth council member who has left their local DFL convention without an endorsement in recent weeks. Her ward covers much of the central riverfront, including parts of downtown and northeast.

If the voters follow suit and send the four incumbents packing in November, a very different council will be shaping budgets, mulling development projects and changing regulations alongside a new mayor in 2014. Another three of the 13 council seats are open because their occupants are running for mayor.

Four DFL incumbents already have won endorsements, one is unopposed and the final ward is represented by a member of the Green Party.

“I don’t ever remember a time where people got denied the endorsement like this,” said Brian Melendez, a former state DFL chair and city DFL chair from 1999 to 2005. The last major turnover on the council occurred in 2001, when seven new members were chosen in the same election that swept Mayor R.T. Rybak into office.

New ward boundaries have played a key role in energizing immigrants and younger activists, who have donned campaign T-shirts and buttons and packed school auditoriums to support fresh candidates. The council’s support for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium and voter desire for more transit have also motivated newcomers.

The party’s endorsement comes with volunteers to help distribute literature, access to the party’s voter file and your name on a sample ballot that is mailed to thousands of likely voters before the election.

‘Value to our endorsements’

Running against an endorsed DFL candidate is discouraged by the party, but incumbents Robert Lilligren, Hofstede and possibly Meg Tuthill are moving forward against endorsed challengers nonetheless. Ward 12, represented by Sandy Colvin Roy, offered no endorsement last week, and she remains in the race.

“We need to show that there’s value to our endorsements. And that there’s value to abiding by the endorsement,” state chair Ken Martin said earlier this week, noting that Minneapolis’ races are the only big elections occurring this year. “And that means that we will do everything in our power to help those DFL candidates who have received our endorsement.”

Tuthill said during the convention that she would suspend her campaign if she lost the endorsement, but then she questioned the meaning of the word “suspend” after the party endorsed Lisa Bender. She did not return a call last week seeking comment. Questioned after a committee meeting Thursday, Tuthill said she would not talk politics in City Hall.

Hofstede had made several pledges to political groups and news outlets to abide by the party’s endorsement, but she said Saturday she plans to “take my campaign to the people and let them decide.”

She announced her withdrawal to an auditorium at DeLaSalle High School flooded with red Jacob Frey campaign shirts. Frey campaign staff estimated that more than 70 percent of the delegates were their supporters.

“The process has become flawed,” Hofstede told the crowd. “Older residents and our new Americans have been discouraged and sometimes disrespected while trying to participate in the endorsement process.”

Two delegate challenges, one from each campaign’s supporters, were filed but never came to the floor because the convention did not get that far, city DFL chair Dan McConnell said.

“This process has been legitimate,” Frey told a crowd of cheering supporters. “It has not been flawed in any way.”

After the convention, Hofstede said in an interview that several precincts had “problems communicating the process to people who wanted to be engaged,” particularly members of the city’s East African community. She later added that some people were recorded as alternates — a backup delegate — ­who wanted to be regular delegates.

In one precinct with a large East African population, however, nearly 40 people were elected delegates from one address inhabited largely by East African residents, McConnell said. A reporter in attendance on caucus night witnessed some initial confusion that caused many East Africans to volunteer as alternates, but the process was later repeated. One of the attendees helped translate proceedings into Somali.

About 10 of the precinct’s 30 listed alternates appeared to be East African, McConnell said. Mohamed Barre, who was coordinating some of the East Africans in the precinct that night, said there were challenges understanding the process. “We did not want to be alternates as long as we could have more delegates,” Barre said.

‘A different playbook’

Veterans of city politics, interviewed before the Ward 3 convention, could not recall another time when this many council incumbents had lost endorsements.

“I don’t remember anything like this, no,” said John Derus, a Frey supporter who served on the council in the 1970s and spent 17 years on the Hennepin County Board. “Usually the incumbent, with rare exceptions, is endorsed by the party.”

Rick Stafford, a DFL veteran who chaired Tuthill’s ward convention, agreed that the results so far have been abnormal. “But we’ll see if that transcends into anything when the general election is held,” Stafford said.

Former City Council Member Lisa McDonald lost the endorsement to her challenger in 1997 but ran anyway. She won re-election. In an interview, she observed that good constituent services and name recognition can go a long way for an incumbent, even without the DFL endorsement.

“Generally it’s an older, more established crowd that votes frequently,” McDonald said. “So it’s a different playbook when you get out into a general election.”

One added wrinkle is how ranked-choice voting will affect the election. It’s the city’s first major test of the method, which eliminates the primary election but considers voters’ second and third choices in naming a winner. With the ability to rank several candidates, voters may feel less obligated to make the DFL-endorsee their top choice.

Also Saturday, Council Members Barb Johnson and Kevin Reich won the DFL endorsement at their respective conventions. Incumbents Lisa Goodman and John Quincy have also been endorsed.

Source: startribune.com
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Late food surveys costly to Minnesota school districts
Nearly 40 percent of Minnesota school districts have squandered an opportunity to receive thousands of dollars in federal funding this year by putting off a mandatory survey detailing what’s in school lunches.

Last summer, school districts statewide were given a homework assignment: As part of the federal Hunger-Free Kids Act, they were told to provide detailed descriptions of school lunches, with the results due by the end of this school year. The payoff for breaking down calories and carbohydrates is a 6-cent federal reimbursement for every lunch served, with a district to start getting the money as soon as it finishes the analysis. The federal payments will continue into the foreseeable future.

For the Anoka-Hennepin district, which completed the survey at the start of the school year, the reimbursement will exceed $264,000 this year. But as of early April, survey results from only 60 percent of the state’s school districts had been forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Debra Lukkonen, supervisor of school nutrition for the Minnesota Department of Education.

Most metro-area districts, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, have turned in surveys. But many school nutrition staffs in the state are strapped — with food directors wearing chef’s hats — and will not have time to complete the work until the school year ends, Lukkonen said. For others, the paperwork is complicated, so time-consuming that Lukkonen says the state has offered to help the struggling districts.

These districts will still get the federal reimbursement once they fulfill the requirement, but only for meals they serve after doing so — not retroactively.

Setting priorities

“We all want that six cents with costs going up, but our top priority is making sure our kids are well fed, and not doing paperwork,” said Sandy Schultz, food services manager for the Brooklyn Center School District, one of 160 Minnesota schools or school districts that have not turned in their surveys.

“The state keeps calling, giving me deadlines. It will get done — sooner instead of later, I hope. But we can only do so many things at a time.”

Minnesota schools lose an average of 29 cents per lunch and some lose much more, Lukkonen said. In Anoka-Hennepin, the $2.98 cost of a lunch includes the meal, labor and overhead, said Patty Duenow, the district’s assistant nutrition director. The bigger school districts can make up for lost revenue by selling à la carte items, which Anoka-Hennepin does. Some districts count on a general education fund to bail them out.

“Every school district, regardless of size, is fighting the same battle,” Duenow said. “We all could use help.”

The amount of federal help through reimbursement is determined by the number of meals sold. St. Paul, which completed the process early, will receive $300,000 this year, said Jean Ronnei, the district’s director of nutrition.

For Chisago Lakes, which hopes to complete its paperwork this month, the future annual payoff will be almost $20,000, said Kathy Burrill, food services director. Brooklyn Center can expect more than $12,000. But some small rural districts could receive as little as $300 — hardly enough to inspire them to get the USDA assignment completed until after the school year, said Lukkonen.

The Mankato School District will receive $60,000 annually when it completes the forms. But like Brooklyn Center’s Schultz, food service director Ron Schirmers talks of competing demands and priorities. “We’re more interested in getting our menus in line — and getting kids to eat off those menus,” he said.

“I’ve just gotten started filling out these forms,” Schirmers said. “It takes time.”

Goal of the survey

St. Paul’s Ronnei, who this fall will become vice president of the national School Nutrition Association, said the USDA’s goal is to ensure that school districts are complying with national standards.

“It’s a requirement, plain and simple, but it’s also a huge deal,” Ronnei said of the federal survey. “It benefits the kids. It validates this process of trying to provide nutritionally sound meals.”

The assignment calls for documentation of every lunch at all school levels — of the ingredients that go into everything from an entree to that last condiment packet, said Allison Bradford, child nutrition programs director at Anoka-Hennepin.

The USDA wants to ensure that the districts are complying with new federal nutrition standards. The schools need to be examining calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium, Lukkonen said.

Earlier this week, the Anoka-Hennepin district served its most popular meal at its middle schools: popcorn chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy with herbed carrot slices. Students can be served an unlimited amount of fruits and vegetables, said Duenow. But healthy guidelines dictate the size of snack portions, the amount of grainy foods served per meal, even the color of vegetable.

Duenow said it took her five days to complete the federal survey. Every food item had to be entered into a multi-tabbed spreadsheet. When a rule stated that a child needed eight to nine “breads” per week, that could mean grains and foods such as pasta, crackers, pizza crust and hamburger buns, Duenow said.

“This has been a learning year for all of us,” Duenow said. “The state has been good about saying what needs to be fixed for next year.”

The process, she said, was not that hard to digest.

“We passed.”

Source: startribune.com
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Minn. House DFL wants more spending for jobs
The Minnesota House is set to vote on a package of new spending on programs aimed at creating jobs.

The House is in a Monday afternoon session debating its omnibus jobs, commerce and housing bill. The Democratic-sponsored bill would boost spending at the Department of Employment and Economic Development in the next two years by more than 50 percent compared to the previous two.

The bill's author, Rep. Tim Mahoney of St. Paul, says it's a new approach to promoting employment by spending more on job training, grants and loans to small businesses, scholarships and apprenticeships. The bill spends $140 million on jobs and economic development programs and boosts spending on the affordable housing programs by $22 million.

The House proposal tops Gov. Mark Dayton by about $5 million in proposed spending increases on employment and economic development programs.

Source: startribune.com
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Quick News: Minneapolis restores $2 million in school budget cuts
More than $2 million will be coming to ease the sting of budget cuts for Minneapolis public schools, especially in the southwestern corner of the city where parents have been protesting vocally.

School officials said the money was restored in meetings that were scheduled even before the first wave of budgets sent shock waves through some schools. The money was added days before the March 29 deadline for principals to submit their final budgets to the district office for approval.

Southwest Minneapolis schools got more money in the final allotment in part because they get less federal and state aid for educating students in poverty than most schools elsewhere in the city, according to finance officials. Thus, cuts to schools there more quickly cut closer to core classroom budgets.

The addition of the $2 million-plus does not erase all the cuts schools are facing.

K-5 elementary schools districtwide can expect nearly $1.9 million less next school year than they’re currently budgeted. K-8 schools, including those split between two campuses, are down more than $1.3 million, while middle schools are down $776,000. High schools take the biggest hit with a loss of $4.2 million, and Edison is sustaining $1.9 million of that.

The biggest factor in those cuts is the district’s decision to balance its budget without dipping into its surplus.

The district’s lower-poverty schools already were allocated $7 million atop the district’s normal budgeting formula to make sure they can offer at least a minimal program when the formula doesn’t give them enough.

The latest money is particularly welcome at one southwest school, Lake Harriet, which operates on two campuses. The upper school calculated in mid-March that it was down $212,000 for next year.

The latest adjustment adds $105,195. That allows Principal Mary Rynchek to add back some things she had to trim initially. The school will do without an accounts clerk who tracks money for purposes like field trips, instead expecting secretaries to do the work. The school will eat the part-time position dedicated to string instrument instruction, asking the band teacher to compress band and strings into his part-time position.

Parents still concerned

“I think we can continue our program with quality,” Rynchek said.

But one Lake Harriet parent leader said that parents still are concerned with final budget numbers, especially for the upper grades campus. Caroline Cochran, co-chair of the school’s site council, said she remains concerned that the school lacks sufficient education aides who do important work such as monitoring students at buses, lunch and recess.

Source: startribune.com
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