School Board Notes 5.15.2023

May 15 Meeting Highlights

The minutes from the May 15, 2023 meeting will be reviewed and approved by the School District 197 School Board at the Monday, June 5, 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
One item was added to the consent agenda – “Termination and Nonrenewal of Probationary Teaching Contract”.
The motion carried (7-0).

Comments to the School Board
No one was in attendance to provide comments to the School Board.

Superintendent Olson-Skog introduced students from the Two Rivers High School Key Club, which is an international, student-led organization providing its members with opportunities to perform service, build character and develop leadership. This year’s Club has participated in more than 50 service projects. Notable highlights from this year include: 

  • Supplied the volunteers for three nights of child care at parent-teacher nights 
  • Hosted a successful winter clothing drive at the high school 
  • Visited a local nursing home twice
  • Placement of menstrual product bins in the high school bathrooms 
  • MLK Day of Service Event for the community 
  • 15 people volunteered  at Feed My Starving Children during their spring break
  • 24 members volunteered at the City of West St. Paul community egg hunt

Students in attendance were Kael Jacobson (sophomore); Ramona Webb (sophomore); Evangeline Fuentes (freshman); Annika Klemme (sophomore); and JaeLynn Dodson (sophomore). Also in attendance were Key Club Advisors Dr. Mary Beth Townsend and Jim Probst.

Middle School Schedule Recommendation
Cari Jo Drewitz, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment; Karen Allen, Heritage E-STEM Middle School Principal; and Chris Hiti, Friendly Hills Middle School Principal, presented the middle school schedule recommendation. In alignment with the district’s Strategic Framework, administration decided to develop a consistent schedule across both middle schools that meets the needs of all middle school students, addresses the challenges of the current schedule and ensures that the Minnesota Department of Education standards requirements are being met. 

At the March 21, 2022 School Board meeting, administration presented an overview of the proposed process, a draft Guiding Change document, and the proposed decision-making framework. At the April 18, 2022 School Board meeting, administration presented the Guiding Change document for approval which incorporated the feedback that was received at the March meeting. Once the Guiding Change document was approved, a Middle School Design process was created that included Middle School administrators and staff, and district staff. In May of 2022, administration asked for input about the middle school experience and schedule from middle school staff, students and families through surveys and student focus groups.

Over the summer and into the fall of 2022, the Design Team used the survey input and developed different schedule options with support and facilitation from TeamWorks International. The Design Team presented those four options to the community, middle school staff and students. The feedback sessions were created to hear from the community and get their ideas prior to refining the options. A great deal of stakeholder feedback was received on all of the proposed options. The Design Team then met in December 2022 and January 2023 to refine the options based on the feedback sessions that were held.

Based on all of the work of the design team and stakeholder feedback, district administration recommended the following option for implementation for FY 2024-2025:

  • 6-period day with 4 lunch periods
  • Included homeroom and flex
  • 50-minute class periods
  • A/B elective schedule for grades 5-8
  • More room for intervention in grades 5-6
  • Grades 7 and 8 stay on a 6-period schedule but will have a flex time which could allow for student choice, meet student needs, and allow building of relationships
  • 3-minute passing time

This option best met the guiding change document as it offers one schedule building wide; allows for staff to serve multiple grade levels particularly in Special Ed, ESL and intervention; has a common rotation (every grade level is on a two-day rotation); and it has flex time. This process is about the schedule and number of periods, not courses. Course options will be determined during implementation.

Items that will stay the same within the schedule include a 6-period day for grades 7 and 8; 4 lunch periods; lunch is the same length; and assume grades 5 and 6 remain teamed. Items that will change include grades 5 and 6 have a 6-period day; same schedule for all four grade levels; flex time is added; grades 5 and 6 will have no recess; and PhyEd, Music, Art and Digital Citizenship are every other day.

The curriculum items for consideration include grades 5 and 6 include a reduction in instructional time core content areas; increase in instructional time for electives; some curriculum review findings in social studies and writing; a new MN Arts standards requirement; and a need for intervention. In grades 7 and 8, there is a new MN Arts standards requirement; some curriculum review findings in the media literacy standards; and a review of the current electives and alignment to the Strategic Framework.

Next steps include:

  • Use FY23-24 to plan for implementation in FY24-25
  • Art and Music teams will continue their work on ways to meet the new Arts standards
  • A “Flex Team” will be formed to design and help the implementation of Flex
  • Curriculum teams will need to address the changes in instructional time and consider how best to meet standards
  • Consider teacher licensure in the staffing and scheduling process
  • Flex will be addressed by the district and during contract discussions

First Reading of Policy 417, Chemical Use and Abuse
Tye Michaels, Director of Human Resources, and Sara Lein, Director of Special Programs, presented the first reading of Policy 417, Chemical Use and Abuse. This policy was last reviewed in June of 2019. The district’s current policy was reviewed against MSBA’s model policy and several changes are being recommended mostly related to updates in state statutes since 2019. This policy will be presented for a second reading at the June 5, 2023 regular School Board meeting via the consent agenda.

Superintendent’s End of Year Report on Goal Attainment
Superintendent Olson-Skog, Assistant Superintendent Peter Mau, Director of Special Services, Sara Lein, and Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Cari Jo Drewitz, presented the end of year report on the Strategic Framework, Implementation Targets and the Superintendent’s professional growth goals. Updates have been provided to the School Board throughout the year via presentations at board meetings and updates directly to board members from the Superintendent.
Goal 1: The superintendent will oversee the implementation of operational plans in support of the strategic plan.

  • Goal 1a: The superintendent will oversee the implementation of operational plans in support of the social and emotional learning focus area - many elements are ongoing but the targets for 22-23 have been achieved.
  • Goal 1b: The superintendent will oversee the implementation of operational plans in support of the equitable systems and support focus area - many elements are ongoing but the targets for 22-23 have been achieved.
  • Goal 1c: The superintendent will oversee the implementation of operational plans in support of the career exploration and preparation focus area - many elements are ongoing but the targets for 22-23 have been achieved.

Goal 2: The superintendent will analyze long-term budget needs and revenue opportunities to support the desired improvements outlined in the three focus areas.

  • Current spending – funds prioritized to classroom spending; lower than average % on administrative spending
  • Future needs – inflationary costs; budget stability; competitive salaries; mental health supports; consistent reading and math intervention systems
  • Future revenue – expecting formula increases and cross-subsidy decreases; expected increased revenue may or may not offset increased costs; questions remain regarding unfunded mandates

Goal 3: The superintendent will improve opportunities for stakeholder feedback.

  • Formative feedback process created for district leaders; improved processes to access appropriate staff members

Goal 4: The superintendent will improve district crisis response planning.

  • Implemented new standard response protocol
  • Selected the “StopIT” anonymous reporting system – full implementation at Two Rivers this year with expansion in 2024

Board members expressed their appreciation to Superintendent Olson-Skog and the team.

It was moved by Mr. Vaupel and seconded by Ms. Corbett to approve the resolution that the administration has achieved their 2022-23 implementation targets and the Superintendent has achieved his 2022-23 professional growth goals.

The motion carried (7-0).

Mid-Year Check in on School Board Goals
The board Planning Committee provided a mid-year report on the progress made on the 2023 School Board goals. School Board goals are based on the calendar year versus a fiscal year. The goals are listed below and will continue to be in progress for 2023:

  • Engage in a book study that deepens their knowledge in one or more of the strategic framework focus areas.
  • Attend a minimum of 10 school district events during the year. 
  • Record a video summary of each board meeting to be published on social media. 
  • Plan and implement more inclusive and expanded recognitions of student accomplishments.
  • Adopt an equity policy, which will guide the board’s decisions, discussions and work in equity. 
  • Engage in regular development sessions to understand PD provided to the staff, best practices in board governance, and effective strategies to engage with the community including an emphasis on underrepresented and marginalized communities.
  • Explore the establishment of an independent 197 Legislative Action Committee. 

Closed Session
Board members recessed to a closed session, pursuant to MN Statute 13D.05, Subd. 3(b), to receive confidential legal advice from the School Board’s attorney regarding pending litigation involving a student.
The motion carried (7-0).

The board reconvened to their open meeting.
It was moved by Mr. Stamman and seconded by Mr. Hill to approve the agreement that was disclosed during the closed session.
The motion carried (7-0).

The motion carried (7-0).