School Board Notes 3.6.2023

March 6 Meeting Highlights

The minutes from the March 6, 2023 meeting will be reviewed and approved by the School District 197 School Board at the Monday, March 20, 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
The motion carried (7-0).

Listening Session
No one attended.

Moreland teachers Alyssa Abrahamson and Tiffany Maczko introduced students that participated in their annual Raise Craze fundraiser, where they raise funds by doing acts of kindness in the community. This year, students completed more than 2,700 acts of kindness, raised $20,000 to support residency programming, free events the PTA hosts throughout the year, and Moreland’s mural project. Students donated 189 pounds of cereal to Neighbors Inc.; created 70+ dog toys for local animal shelters; decorated almost 300 grocery bags for Oxendale's; gave out kindness plants at Amore Coffee Shop; delivered thank you letters to first responders; baked fresh loaves of bread for loved ones; read books to dogs at the Animal Humane Society; and spread countless smiles across the school and the community.


Student Representative’s Report
Student Representatives Elise Buzzell and Makda Mekonen presented their student report. The musical “Little Shop of Horrors” ended and had a wonderful turnout each performance. In speech and debate, Quinn Hendel placed first in the dramatic and humorous interpretation areas, and the team placed third. Two Rivers hosted their second blood drive of the year with over 70 people donating. The 30th annual father-daughter dance will take place this week.  Seniors are working on college tours and applying or scholarships.  Juniors are taking the ACT exams this week. Winter sports are wrapping up.  The dance team qualified for state in the Jazz category.  Wrestler Trey Sann competed at state after placing second at the triple A individual wrestling tournament. Boys swim had four swimmers compete at state - George Altier, Nathan Frisch, Jack Dahlagar, and Fin Gustafson. George and Fin qualified for four events and Nathan and Jack qualified for two events. As a relay team, they placed 8th. They also broke the school’s 200 freestyle record by .7 seconds. In gymnastics, Lucy Rapp qualified for state for the third year in a row. She competed in vault, bars, and floor and received All-State, All-Section, and All-Conference titles as well. The Winterguard team placed 1st out of 6 teams in their division. The girls’ hockey team won their first sections game and the boys won their first section game but both lost in the semifinals. The boys’ basketball team had their last regular season game and are preparing for their first section game. The elementary schools celebrated Love to Read month with fun events. Two Rivers students paid a visit to Moreland, Garlough, Mendota and Pilot Knob to read to students.

Superintendent’s Report
Superintendent Olson-Skog stated that March is Read Across America Month, which is a time to promote reading and encourage the love of reading, especially for the younger learners. Two Rivers students visited Garlough to read to students and connected with them by sharing why they love reading and what their favorite books were when they were younger.  Pilot Knob Elementary hosted a “Wear a Word Day,” where students were encouraged to wear clothing with words. This activity expands students’ vocabulary, which is key to reading comprehension. Mendota Elementary had mystery readers visit.  Heritage wrapped up their annual Battle of the Books competition where more than 50 teams across all grade levels read books and competed to answer questions about the reading. Friendly Hills wrapped up their school-wide Read-a-Thon and surpassed their goal of reading 200,000 minutes. In total, students read 204,587 minutes and raised $7,570. Funds raised will go towards buying reading materials for both classroom libraries and the school library. Superintendent Olson-Skog took a moment to remember and honor longtime School District 197 educator and community member, Mary Jo Skemp, who passed away unexpectedly. Mary Jo worked in district for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at Mendota Elementary as a teacher, with some time at Heritage. Mary Jo was a graduate of Henry Sibley High School and was married to Charlie Skemp, a longtime teacher at Henry Sibley/Two Rivers High School.

ISD 917 Program Overview
Board member Byron Schwab introduced ISD 917 Superintendent Michael Favor. The purpose of ISD 917 is to offer member E-12 school districts’ students and families services in the areas of special education for birth to 21, and career and technical education and alternative education for grades 10-12.  Nine school districts are members of ISD 917.  Benefits of membership include access to programs and services, representation on advisory groups, representation on the board, and some of the costs are covered through a levy rather than the general fund.  For the 22-23 school year, 29 School District 197 students are in center-based programs and 57 students are receiving itinerant services.

Chemical Health Advisory Committee Update
Board member Byron Schwab introduced Ann Lindberg-Borgen, the district’s Chemical Health Coordinator.  The committee consists of district staff, a School Board member, the School Resource Officer and a community liaison from the Dakota County Attorney’s Office.  They meet once a month during the school year to discuss a wide variety of topics.  They also offer resources and presentations throughout the year for parents and guardians.  The school district participated in the 2022 Minnesota Student Survey for students in grades 5, 7, 9 and 11.  One finding was that the use of vape has increased dramatically with a trend towards the flavored products.  Alcohol and marijuana has also increased among the 11th grade females.  Overall, the number of students using drugs is not increasing.  What is increasing is the number of drugs that have dangerous and sometimes fatal effects.  The number of drug overdose deaths in 2021 was the highest annual number ever recorded in the state of Minnesota.  The rise of fentanyl circulating in communities could be a contributing factor in the increase in overdose deaths.  Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena stated that illicit fentanyl consumption is now the number one cause of death among Americans ages 18-45.  Next steps for the opioid overdose response in School District 197 include partnering with each building Principal and Nurse to identify appropriate staff to be trained on how to identify opioid overdoses and the emergency administration of naloxone.

Board Committee Report-MSHSL
Board Member Terry Stamman provided an update on the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL). The MSHSL is a voluntary association that provides service, leadership and extra-curricular opportunities to more than 500 member schools in the state of Minnesota. The League consistently ranks among the top state associations across the nation with more than 240,000 high school students participating annually in athletics and fine arts activities. The League also oversees more than 8,000 registered officials and judges, and provides leadership opportunities for administrators and certification programs for coaches.  School District 197 is in the Metro East Conference, Region 3AA.  There are 10 League activities offered in the fall, 14 in the winter and 12 in the spring.  Student leaders from throughout Minnesota convened in a statewide conference on January 13 to lend their voices to the continuing efforts of ensuring a safe environment for all students to learn and have the opportunity to participate in all activities. The “Together We Make A Difference,” initiative drew more than 750 student leaders from 75 member schools.  It was hosted by both the Minnesota State High School League and the Association for Metropolitan School Districts.

The motion carried (7-0).