School Board Notes 12.9.22

December 12 Meeting Highlights

The minutes from the December 12, 2022 meeting will be reviewed and approved by the School District 197 School Board at the Monday, January 9, 2023 meeting. For more information about meeting agendas and minutes, please CLICK HERE.

Action Item - Approval of Agenda Items 
The motion carried 6-0.

Action Item - Approval of Consent Agenda
Board member Vaupel requested that the second reading of Policy 410, Family and Medical Leave, be moved to the main agenda as a discussion item. It was moved by Mr. Schwab and seconded by Mr. Stamman to approve the consent agenda items as amended.

The motion carried 6-0.

Listening Session
Three individuals attended the Listening Session. Topics included class sizes in the school district; Policy 410, Family and Medical Leave; and literacy and dyslexia efforts.

Principal Albert Johnson introduced Thomas Lutz and Khalil Liden. Clintel Page could not attend. These high school students are coaching some of our younger students in basketball and were recognized for the great job they are doing while serving as mentors for our younger students.

Left to right pictured above: Superintendent Peter Olson-Skog, Khalil Liden, Thomas Lutz, & Board Member Marcus Hill.

Student Representative’s Report
Student Representatives Elise Buzzell and Makda Mekonen reported on student activities. The Student Council organized a harvest pack day and packed 15,186 meals. Two Rivers hosted a volleyball tournament to raise money for the Winter Giving program, helping students in need. The National Honor Society is running a toy drive raising money and toys for kids in the St. Paul community. Winter sports are underway. The state debate festival was held at Two Rivers and the Warriors placed third. Kristen Tarazewski, a NASA biomedical engineer, came to Two Rivers and talked to the students in the Women in STEM Club. A new club has started at Two Rivers – Digital Wellbeing. The main goal is to move towards a more balanced and intentional use of digital media so students gain the skills to thrive in the digital age now and later. November was Native American Heritage Month and Friendly Hills hosted a family potluck to celebrate. The fourth graders at Mendota Elementary performed their musical, the Jukebox Time Machine.  Moreland is excited to welcome Karla from the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts. The dance residency is starting this week in 2nd grade classes and Karla will be introducing the students to West African and percussive dance styles. Students at Somerset are busy preparing for their winter concert this week. The Heritage robotics team competed in the regional tournament. They were awarded the Top Performance award along with the robot design award, and will advance to the state tournament.

Superintendent’s Report
Superintendent Peter Olson-Skog stated that the first half of the school year is nearly completed - providing our learners with the caring relationships, equitable practices, and high achievement opportunities they all deserve. Students and staff are going out of their way to care for and connect with others. High school students met with Friendly Hills eighth grade students to help them prepare for ninth grade by talking through all of the advanced course options offered. Two Rivers student musicians visited eighth grade choir and orchestra students at Heritage to help prepare for the transition into high school music. The ESL Department hosted their annual newcomer English Learner Family Night. Winter break will be December 22 through January 2. 

Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee Update
Cari Jo Drewitz, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, and Miles Lawson, Secondary Curriculum Coordinator, presented an update from the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Committee. State statute requires school districts that receive federal assistance to establish a local advisory committee on career and technical education.  Membership includes employer members, parents/guardians, educators, community members and students. Ongoing projects associated with these efforts include a partnership between AP Biology and Great River Greening; U of MN College of Biological Sciences and Healthcare Science CAPS internships; Dodge Nature Center and AP Biology lab experiences; and a Certified Nursing Assistant Certification program. In 22-23, the team will work to expand membership in CTE programs and postsecondary options and continue to review and advise on district-wide and program CTE priorities and topics.

Site Report from Garlough Environmental Magnet School
Principal Sue Powell provided a site report from Garlough Environmental Magnet School. Through nature-based experiences, Garlough supports and enhances children’s intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development. Ms. Power shared these points of pride: moving forward with the Garlough tunnel art project; winning poster contests through the MN Department of Natural Resources; receiving grants to purchase needed items. New things in the 22-23 school year include a completed Garlough tunnel art project; partnering with Great River Greening to return some of the school grounds to native prairie; and serving as a pilot site for the district in trying to use less salt in lots and sidewalks.

Site Report from Moreland Arts and Health Sciences Magnet School
Principal Mark Quinn provided a site report from Moreland Arts and Health Sciences Magnet School. Arts experiences are integrated into the core curriculum at Moreland as well as offering classroom environments that encourage movement, engagement and healthy choices. Mr. Quinn shared these points of pride: creating a culture of reading; offering SPARKS days where students can explore their interests and try out different things related to the arts and health sciences theme; and participating in Moreland Made which is an annual learning showcase event. New things in the 22-23 school year include school wide reading; offering a variety of residency programs including the Steel Pan residency and a fourth grade musical; and making a difference every day.

Second Reading of Policy 515, Protection and Privacy of Pupil Records
Superintendent Olson-Skog presented a second reading of Policy 515, Protection and Privacy of Pupil Records. This was presented as a first reading to board members at their meeting on November 28, 2022. As part of district procedures for sharing directory information, the following language would be included in communication with the requesting party:

You have indicated that you need the requested data for a school business-related purpose.  You must not use the data for any other purpose or disclose the data to other entities or individuals outside your organization/not employed by your company. After using the data for the stated use, the data must be destroyed. Failure to comply may result in the District denying any future requests by you for data. If any claims arise from your improper use and/or disclosure of the data, any liability rests with you, and the District will seek to hold you responsible for any claimed damages. 

After hearing this addition to procedures, the board had no further questions and indicated that it could be added to the consent agenda for the third reading at the January 9, 2023 School Board meeting. Once approved, this change will not go into effect until after parents/guardians have been provided updated information and the opportunity to opt out of directory information disclosure. 

Taxes Payable 2023 Truth-in-Taxation Public Hearing
Brian Schultz, Director of Finance, presented the Truth-in-Taxation public hearing for taxes payable in 2023. State law requires that the presentation include information on the current year’s budget, prior year actual revenue and expenditures, proposed property tax levy including percentage increase or decrease and specific purposes and reasons for which taxes are being increased if applicable. The district must also allow time for public comment. Mr. Schultz presented background on school funding, property tax levies and budgets.

Since 2002-2003, the state General Education Revenue has not kept pace with inflation. Additionally, special education programs are underfunded. Underfunding of special education costs requires a transfer from regular program resources to support an underfunded program mandate by state and federal law. Primary options to bridge this funding gap are to cut regular program budgets or increase operating referendum revenue.

 Information on the district’s budget, and the proposed tax levy for taxes payable in 2023 was presented. All school district budgets are divided into separate funds, based on purposes of revenue, as required by law. Approximately 68% of the district’s revenue comes from the state, 26% from local and close to 6% from the federal level. The majority of the district’s budget goes toward the category of regular instruction. The final property tax levy may be less than, but may not exceed, the proposed property tax levy, except for allowable “Add-on” levies approved by voters after the proposed levy was certified. Mr. Schultz stated that the proposed 2023 property tax levy is $28,795,442.59 which is a decrease of 4% from last year. No one was in attendance to make a public comment on this topic. By statute, a School Board must adopt their final property tax levy by December 30 and certify the levy to the county auditor. Staff will follow through with associated tasks.

Action Item – Adopt 2022 Payable 2023 Property Tax Levy
Brian Schultz, Director of Finance, presented the proposed 2022 payable 2023 property tax levy. On or before December 30, 2022, each school district must adopt its final 2022 payable 2023 property tax levy and certify it to the county auditor. The final property tax levy may be less than, but may not exceed, the proposed property tax levy, except for allowable “Add-on” levies approved by voters after the proposed levy was certified. A Truth-in-Taxation hearing was held earlier in the meeting. Mr. Schultz recommended that the board adopt the 2023 property tax levy of $28,795,442.59. The 2022 levy is decreasing 4% over the prior year levy and is mainly attributed to a decrease in enrollment and a larger debt excess reduction than what occurred in the prior year. 

The motion carried (6-0).

Summary of School Board Self Evaluation 
Vice-Chair Marcus Hill provided a summary of the recent School Board self-evaluation process. Each year, the school board conducts a self-evaluation across five competency areas. The evaluation uses a five-point scale through which the board assesses their achievement of each competency. The scale ranges from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree). For each competency area, Mr. Hill shared the weighted average of the board members’ self-evaluations, a description of the competency area, and a summary of the board’s descriptions regarding strengths and focus areas for improvement. 

Review of 2022 School Board Goals and Proposed 2023 School Board Goals
Superintendent Olson-Skog presented a review of the 2022 School Board goals. All goals were completed with one exception. The proposed development of an equity vision/resolution/policy is still in progress. Following a review of last year’s goals, Superintendent Olson-Skog presented proposed 2023 School Board goals that had been developed by the planning committee. The proposed goals were based on input provided by the entire board through the board self-evaluation process. 

Both last year’s and this year’s goals are intended to advance the district’s strategic framework, paying particular attention to the three focus areas along with community engagement. The proposed 2023 School Board goals will be brought back to the January 9th meeting for approval.

 Second Reading of Policy 410, Family and Medical Leave
Board member Vaupel asked that this item be removed from the consent agenda and added to the main agenda for discussion. Per feedback from a staff member at the listening session, Mr. Vaupel asked if the topic of paid parental leave should be discussed as part of this policy or if it would be a contract negotiations topic. Superintendent Olson-Skog stated that he would review the policy, review how other school districts have approached this and bring a recommendation to the board prior to the third reading of the policy. 

January 9, 2023 Agenda

  • Listening Session 

  • Approval of the Agenda

  • Approval of the Consent Agenda

  • Listening Session Report 

  • Student Representative's Report

  • Superintendent's Report

  • Site Report from Pilot Knob STEM Magnet School 

  • Site Report from Two Rivers High School 

  • Action Item - Approval of 2023 School Board Goals

  • Adjournment