Our View: Thumbs up for expansion of charter schools

September 17, 2018

Editors note: Today marks the debut of our new Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down editorial feature. Every Saturday, the Post Bulletin will comment on a variety of community issues, offering a pat on the back for a job well done or a kick in the pants for a job not so well done. Have a topic for us to weigh in on? Send an email to editboard@postbulletin.com.


Rochester Math and Science Academy (K-8) and Rochester STEM Academy (high school), two charter schools that share a former church building, are ready to launch a $15.5 million renovation and expansion project. Included in the project are classrooms and a gymnasium.

The schools currently turn away prospective students due to lack of space and have lengthy waiting lists. The expansion will allow the K-8 school, for instance, to expand from the current 347 students to 500 students.

Enrollment at the two schools is composed primarily of Somali-American pupils, along with a smaller portion of students of Sudanese, Ethiopian and Kenyan heritage. Both schools did well in the new statewide student performance evaluations.

The planned expansion means even more Rochester young people will have a chance at a bright future.

Thumbs down on Starts Here project

Having so many streets in downtown Rochester closed or narrowed for construction is understandably frustrating for everyone involved, especially since the number of streets torn apart seems to be multiplying weekly. But there’s one project in particular that is doubly irritating, maybe because it seems so small.

We’re talking about the Zumbro River Starts Here demonstration project that has caused a block of First Avenue Southwest to be closed since late May. It was supposed to be completed in early August, but day after day sits there unfinished, with drivers and pedestrians still forced to detour around it.

City officials says bids came in higher than expected, weather caused delays, materials weren’t delivered on time. But at this point, most of us are just tired enough of street blockages and detours to also be tired of excuses.

We like what the project promises — an educational pocket park that demonstrates the value of protecting local waterways. But we’ll like it a lot more when it’s done.

Thumbs up on free bike program

There’s still plenty of good bicycle-riding weather left this year, which makes the timing of a new City of Rochester pilot program just about as perfect as a crisp fall day.

The city, using the orange bicycles left from the Nice Ride MN project, which shut down at the start of summer, will offer free bike rentals at four locations this fall. The bikes are available at the Rochester Public Library and the Peace Plaza, as well as at Home2Suites and Fairfield Inn and Suites.

Feedback from this program will be used to design a future city bike program.

Thumbs down on souvenir thieves

Sometimes people can be real creeps. We’re speaking in this case about the folks who have been stealing beer glasses from the new Little Thistle Brewing Co. in Rochester.

The brewery owned by Steve and Dawn Finnie opened Aug. 24, and in the first three weeks of operation had 1,000 glasses stolen. That’s a huge loss for a new small business. So the couple took to social media last week to ask patrons to stop stealing the glasses.

“We built this brewery with our sweat and we paid for this glassware ourselves,” the Finnies said. “We don’t have corporate sponsors. Just a mom and dad and two kids. Please don’t steal from us.”

It’s a shame that a local business has to make such a plea.

Update hourly