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Minneapolis Management Firm Said on Track

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A report on the Minneapolis schools' first six months under the leadership of a private company shows that the district's new management has achieved most of its short-term goals.

But the findings also reveal that the company's most difficult tasks lie ahead.

The internal report, released last month, says that the district's curriculum is outdated and ineffective and that its professional support for teachers is insufficient. And it shows that the company still must figure out a way to close the achievement gap between white and minority children in the 44,000-student district.

The findings were reported by school officials and Public Strategies Group Inc., the for-profit, St. Paul-based consulting firm hired by the school board last December to oversee the district's operations. (See Education Week, Feb. 9, 1994.)

Minneapolis was the first district in the nation to turn over its leadership to a private company.

Other districts have contracted with for-profit outfits to handle certain functions or manage selected schools. Late last month, the Hartford, Conn., school board voted to enter negotiations with Education Alternatives Inc. on a contract for managing the whole district. (See story, page 1.)

But the Minneapolis contract differs from other arrangements in that Public Strategies is paid only for the results it achieves.

For instance, the company completed 30 of the 41 tasks in its first six-month contract with the school board, the report shows.

But it failed to negotiate employee contracts within budget and will not be paid the $6,000 fee assigned to that task, said Laura Tueting Nelson, a spokeswoman for Superintendent Peter Hutchinson, the president of Public Strategies.

Over all, the company has earned $165,000 out of a possible $244,000 for its first six months on the job.

The school board appears to be pleased with the results.

The board president, Ann Kaari, said in a statement that Mr. Hutchinson "has given us a new way to approach achieving our central goal: improving achievement for all students, and particularly students of color.''

The company's plan for addressing the schools' most pressing needs will be in its next working contract, which is expected to be finished this month, Ms. Nelson said.

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