November 13 Meeting Highlights

November 13 Meeting Highlights

The minutes from the November 13, 2023 meeting will be reviewed and approved by the School District 197 School Board at the Monday, November 27, 2023 meeting. For more information about meeting agendas and minutes, please CLICK HERE.

Action Item - Approval of the Agenda

The motion carried (6-0).

Action Item - Approval of the Consent Agenda
The motion carried (6-0).

Listening Session
No one attended the Listening Session.

Student Representative’s Report
Student Representatives LaRae Dodson and Samantha Villa presented their student report. Garlough and Pilot Knob Elementary schools hosted fundraising nights at Culvers. Garlough Elementary is hosting a family rollerblading night in early December. The Two Rivers Youth Leadership Class is working with middle and elementary school students three days a week. The middle school band program will perform with the high school ensemble at the Bridges concert on November 30 at 7:00 p.m. On November 21, 8th grade students will tour the high school making their transition less intimidating. The tour will be led by student Link leaders and will have the chance to walk around the building, talk to teachers, and learn more about class options.  The high school will host parent-teacher conferences this week. Two Rivers held their annual showcase, marketing the school to incoming freshmen. The Two Rivers Music Department held its annual Gala concert where students perform a combined piece with the band, orchestra, and choir. Fall activities has wrapped up with several students advancing to state tournaments. The fall play of Clue opens this week with shows on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Superintendent’s Report
Superintendent Peter Olson-Skog stated that both levy questions passed and offered a heartfelt thank you to the community. The new operating levy will have a significant impact on the district’s ability to maintain financial stability and support for years to come. It will help keep class sizes stable, maintain program offerings, and attract and retain the area’s best teachers and staff to support and inspire students. The technology levy renewal is equally essential in maintaining the district’s technology infrastructure and network improvements, the purchase of student and staff devices, and updates to classroom technologies. Four School Board members - Tim Aune, Byron Schwab, Morgan Steele, and Randi Walz - were elected to the School Board and will begin their terms in January. Last week, the school district recognized National School Psychology Week. The school psychologists help students, families, and teams in many ways from providing direct support to students and consulting with teachers, to improving support strategies and school-wide practices. Kindergarten showcases are starting this week at all five elementary schools. These showcases are a chance to meet staff and learn all about the schools. Dates and times for each of the five elementary schools are listed on the district website. The administration has been diligently working on planning the Middle School Schedule. 2024-2025 would be the earliest a change to the current schedule would be implemented. There have been some concerns expressed about recess for the younger middle schoolers. The final plan will address that input. A more comprehensive update will be provided to the School Board and community once the design is more complete. November is Native American Heritage Month. The district will be hosting a Native American Heritage Month event for all district families on November 20 at Moreland Arts & Health Sciences Magnet School. This event is an opportunity to learn more about Dakota or Ojibwe languages and participate in games and art activities. More information can be found on the district website.

Site Report from Friendly Hills Middle School
Principal Chris Hiti and Administrative Assistant Britini Osmonson, presented a site report from Friendly Hills Middle School. Friendly Hills offers a comprehensive education to students in grades 5-8 where staff prepare, challenge, and empower students to be successful in high school and beyond. Points of Pride include multiple channels of communication (family newsletter, social media, Talking Points, email/text/phone calls); academic readiness; and the Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies (PBIS) program encouraging high expectations for student conduct. Looking ahead, staff will continue to offer many programs and activities for students to explore their interests as they prepare for high school; integrate hands-on learning into the curriculum; and continue to strengthen the staff-student relationships and positive school climate.

Principal Al Johnson introduced Two Rivers High School seniors Quinn Hendel and Luke Reisig who were both recently named Commended Students in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program. This program recognizes high school students across the country for their excellent academic success in high school and outstanding potential for academic success in college. Beyond their academic success, Luke and Quinn are very involved students.  Luke has participated on the baseball, cross country, and Nordic ski teams, is a member of the National Honor Society and Student Council, and serves as a student tutor.  Quinn has held multiple executive positions on the Drama Board, is the Student Council Vice President, National Honor Society Historian, Speech Captain, former Key Club secretary, and has danced both in and out of school.

Site Report from Somerset Elementary School
Principal Libby Huettl and Special Programs Teacher Ashley Martinson Packer presented a site report from Somerset Elementary School. Enrollment has grown to over 400 students with 31% being students of color. Points of Pride include an 8% increase in reading proficiency where students of color outgrew their white peers in every grade level; celebration of the schools’ Shine Program building connections with peers; and a new Science Specialist that can help engage students in new ways with hands-on learning. Looking ahead, students will participate in a read-a-thon which will be themed around the book “Fraser the Forest Ranger” which was created by art teacher Matthew Shufman; book talks will be shared weekly on the morning announcements; and students working with a decodable reading library.

Action Item-Approval of 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 District Academic Calendars
Superintendent Olson-Skog and Cari Jo Drewitz, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, presented the proposed 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 district academic calendars. This was presented in detail at the October 23, 2023 School Board meeting. This is the first year that administration has brought two consecutive calendars for board approval. It stemmed from a suggestion made through the Meet and Confer committee. The intent is to give staff, students and families more planning time. Changes could be potentially made to the 2025-2026 calendar before finalizing a year from now.

The 2024-2025 school calendar includes the continuation of a transition day for students in the beginning grade of our elementary, middle and high schools. The first day of school for students in Kindergarten, grade 5 and grade 9 will be the day after Labor Day, Tuesday September 3.  The first day of school for students in grades 1-4, 6-8 and 10-12 will be Wednesday September 4. The last day of school is Thursday, June 5.

2025-2026 Draft
The 2025-2026 draft school calendar includes the continuation of a transition day for students in the beginning grade of our elementary, middle and high schools. The first day of school for students in Kindergarten, grade 5 and grade 9 will be the day after Labor Day, Tuesday September 2.  The first day of school for students in grades 1-4, 6-8 and 10-12 will be Wednesday September 3. The last day of school is Thursday, June 4.

Both calendars include 6 professional development days for our licensed staff and 6 grading and preparation days. Both calendars include 169 or 170 school days for students.  The minimum number of days required by MN state statute is 165 days. Licensed staff work 185 days. The school year consists of four quarters.

Administration has tried to balance the number of days in total for quarters 1 and 2 with the number in quarters 3 and 4. This is important for the high school students that earn their credits based on a semester (2 quarters). The administration acknowledges historical privilege for dominant cultural and religious holidays (e.g. the winter break is always timed around Christmas and the federal holidays that surround both it and the new year). In an attempt to mitigate the impact on major religious holidays, the school administration has developed an administrative procedure around school events and religious holidays.

The motion carried (6-0).

Board Committee Report-Parent Ambassador Network
Board member Sarah Larsen presented a board committee report on the Parent Ambassador Network (PAN). PAN is a network of parents in School District 197 that meets monthly with the superintendent. PAN was formed in 2012 and is comprised of presidents or designees of the schools’ PTA, PTO, booster or advisory club, and the Early Learning Advisory Committee along with the superintendent and the district communications manager. The purpose of PAN is to increase communication between the District and families, increase communication between families from all schools in the District, build a sense of community as a District, and help the District know and understand families’ questions, concerns, insights, and ideas. Membership includes one person per elementary school, one early childhood member, and two members per middle school and high school.


The motion carried (6-0).