School Board Notes 2.6.2023

February 6 Meeting Highlights

The minutes from the February 6, 2023 meeting will be reviewed and approved by the School District 197 School Board at the Tuesday, February 21, 2023 meeting. For more information about meeting agendas and minutes, please CLICK HERE.

Action Item - Approval of Agenda
The motion carried (7-0).

Action Item - Approval of Consent Agenda
A Two Rivers field trip for the dance team was added to the consent agenda. The motion carried (7-0).

Listening Session
No one attended

Student Representative’s Report
Student Representatives Elise Buzzell and Makda Mekonen presented their student report. The winter dance was held. Students and staff are recognizing Black History month. The Nordic cross country ski team participated in the Metro East Nordic Conference Championship with the girls placing first. Three students were selected to represent Two Rivers at All State for dance. The boys swim team placed second out of 15 teams at the recent invitational. Winterguard hosted a home show that had 11 teams in attendance. The Metro East Music Festival was held with 21 band and choir students selected to participate. Five speech students placed at the Rosemount Speech Tournament. The ALMAS student service group hosted a free video release party for an anti-vaping video they created. ALMAS has been leading the anti-tobacco initiatives in the community. The student leadership team participated at this year's Together We Make a Difference World Cafe, interacting with over 500 students from around the state. A new Sales, Marketing and School Store Management class provides students real-world experiences and challenges to help develop their skills. Child Psychology students planned and taught lessons to preschool children for a total of 16 sessions. The Friendly Hills Math Team placed second in the SE metro division and 6 students placed in the top 10 out of over 100 students. 14 students from Two Rivers and Heritage attended the Youth in Government Conference where they created a model government, argued court cases, and debated bills. Student Elise Moga won a purple ribbon as her bill was passed by both chambers and signed by the youth Governor. Somerset Elementary students participated in a project fair and STEM night. Mendota Elementary students had their annual sledding event. Moreland Elementary students created sleds out of cardboard and tested them at Two Rivers. Pilot Knob will host a music concert this week.

Superintendent’s Report
Superintendent Olson-Skog reminded families that the district-wide family survey opens February 7. The family survey is open to all families in the district and will help inform school staff and district leadership about what is working and what needs to improve in areas related to school climate, social-emotional learning, equity work, leadership, and more. February is Minnesota School Board Recognition Month. Board members devote countless hours to making sure our schools are helping every child have an excellent education. Students benefit every day from the vision of our school board members that include things like making student achievement a top priority; ensuring progress is evaluated and measured; being accountable for the many decisions they make; and creating a safe environment where students can learn and teachers can teach.

TriDistrict CAPS Program Overview
Ben Kusch, Lead Designer for the Career and College Readiness Initiative, presented an overview of the TriDistrict Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program. This initiative is a unique partnership between the school districts of South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights and West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area Schools. The program offers a variety of opportunities for students to learn about their interests and engage in real-world career exploration activities. It helps students discover a career path and make strategic choices about their post-secondary education. Classes offered include Business & Entrepreneurship; Healthcare Careers; Transportation and Skilled Trade; Computer Science/Information Technology; and Exploring Education. The school districts work in collaboration with community and business partners to assist with the courses and provide internship opportunities for the students.

Site Report from Mendota Elementary School
Principal Steve Goldade provided a site report for Mendota Elementary School.  Mendota believes that knowing their students individually, culturally and developmentally is as important as knowing the content they teach. Mr. Goldade shared these points of pride - the school has a tight knit community and they offer a reading intervention program to grow the love of reading.  New in the 22-23 school year is offering more inclusive school programming, hosting three district-wide special education rooms and offering a book study.

Site Report from Heritage E-STEM Magnet School
Principal Karen Allen provided a site report for Heritage E-STEM Magnet School. Heritage is a supportive and respectful community that engages all students through problem solving, collaboration and inquisitive learning.  Ms. Allen shared these points of pride – building community through restorative circles and student recognitions, building community through quarterly student presentations and offering a higher level of student support. E-STEM is offered throughout the school with specifics for each grade level.  New in the 22-23 school year is school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), student of the month celebrations and 1:1 coaching support.

 School District 197’s Legislative Roundtable
Superintendent Olson-Skog stated that the school district recently hosted a Legislative Roundtable to share the district’s priorities with local legislators.  Representatives Mary Frances Clardy and Ruth Richardson, and Senators Matt Klein and Sandy Pappas were able to attend, alongside School Board members, student representatives, staff and families.  The important asks included:

  •  Keep funding in place with needs that arose from COVID but have not gone away – with one-time funding from the federal government, the district added additional counselors, teachers, community workers and cultural liaisons to help meet the increased need of the students, staff and families.
  • Keep pace with inflation, now and into the future - with an inflation adjustment in the funding formula, the school district could focus more on its core mission of caring relationships, equitable practices and high achievement for all, with less worry about financial uncertainties.
  • Fully fund the required and deserved services in Special Education and for English Learners - each year, the district spends about $7.4 million from their general education budget to subsidize and support services that the state requires but does not fund.
  •  Hold compensatory education harmless while simultaneously providing universal meals - district money comes from per-pupil funding and by the amount of students eligible for free and reduced price meals - if the district did not track the number of students eligible for these meals, it would be a loss of about $1.2 million dollars.
  • Allow school board elected officials the ability to approve the renewal of their existing levies - this change would give school boards the same authority as cities and counties to renew existing operating levies.

In the coming months, the school district will work diligently with legislators and other school districts around the state to push for increased funding for Minnesota schools.

Board Committee Report-AMSD
Board Member Marcus Hill provided an update on AMSD (Association of Metropolitan School Districts).  AMSD is a strong voice for public education with a proactive agenda and a commitment to action.  Their primary task is to lobby at the state level for the needs of metropolitan school districts and they represent over ½ of Minnesota students.  The AMSD Board of Directors consists of the Superintendent and one School Board member from each school district.  Their belief statements focus on student success that involves support of unique needs for each school district.  The collective and consistent voice of the member districts is critical to achieving their mission.  Mr. Hill went over the items outlined in their 2023 Legislative Platform that included strengthen and stabilize funding; enhance school safety and increase mental health support; close opportunity gaps and spur innovation; and diversify the educator workforce and address shortage areas.

Board Committee Report-LMC
Chair Mansur provided an update on the Labor Management Committee (LMC).  The LMC is comprised of union leadership from each bargaining unit in the district, a representative of the School Board and School District Administration.  The committee meets on a quarterly basis to review health and dental insurance information with the assistance of the district’s benefits consultant, One Digital. This year, the group is going through the HITA (Health Insurance Transparency Act) bid renewal process, which is required every two years per state statute.  This process started in January and will be finalized in April or May with a final recommendation to the school board.  This process is for insurance coverages in fiscal year 2023-24 and will take effect July 1, 2023.