School Board Notes 6.5.2023

June 5 Meeting Highlights

The minutes from the June 5, 2023 meeting will be reviewed and approved by the School District 197 School Board at the Tuesday, June 13 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
An approval of Termination and Nonrenewal of a Probationary Teaching Contract was added to the consent agenda.
The motion carried (7-0).

Listening Session Report
Board member Larsen stated that three individuals attended the listening session to provide feedback on the Middle School schedule recommendation and compensation for retired teachers when they return for substitute positions within the district.

Andrea Sáenz, English Learner Program Coordinator and Two Rivers ELL Teacher, and Miles Lawson, Secondary Curriculum and Gifted and Talented Coordinator, introduced Two Rivers High School students who recently passed the state-recognized bilingual and multilingual seals test. Nearly 20 students in grades 10-12 demonstrated language proficiency in one or more of the following languages, including Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Oromo.

The Bilingual and Multilingual Seals were created as an official recognition by the state of Minnesota for proficiency in a language in addition to English.

Students who were recognized include Evelyn Veliz Mendez; Osiris Lopez Serrano; Nayelly Perez Fuentes; Jesus Solarte; Guadalupe Jimenez-Blanco; Jesus Marquez-Rodriguez; Alan Camargo Fierro; Jenny Gao; Miguel Torres; Jose Rodriguez Jimenez; Emily Simon-Gomez; Sinahi Loyola Medina; Marcela Rodriguez; Daniel Delgado Velazquez; Ximena Calderon Vazquez; Anwar Hamed; Salam Marfo; Alejandro Fierro; Eyual Alemayehu; and Atianam Assefa.

Kate Skappel, Elementary Curriculum and Gifted and Talented Coordinator, introduced district fourth-graders who contributed a piece of writing or artwork in this year’s Confluence literary and arts publication. Thirteen fourth-grade writers and artists contributed pieces this year. Students who were recognized include Pilot Knob’s Hanan Berhanu and Avani Raghuvanshi; Mendota’s Camillo Bicanich; and Somerset’s Sienna Hanson and Amelie Warden.


Superintendent’s Report
Superintendent Olson-Skog stated that yesterday was the Two Rivers High School graduation ceremony for the Class of 2023 of approximately 275 students. Last week, graduating seniors had the opportunity to return to their elementary school alma maters, where their educational journey began, to reconnect with former teachers and connect with the younger students. Friendly Hills sixth graders recently hosted a data carnival, where students set up stations based on their own interests to gather data through activities and survey-based questions. Once students collected all the data, they put it into a slide show to present their findings in class. Students at Moreland and Garlough have been corresponding as pen pals all year to work on their letter-writing skills. They wrapped up this program recently when students got the chance to meet their pen pal in person. June is National Pride Month. School District 197 strives to be inclusive and provide safe spaces for our students, families, and staff identifying as LGBTQIA+ and celebrates the messages of inclusion, diversity, love, and acceptance that Pride Month seeks to achieve. 

Action Item - Approval of ISD 197 Long-Term Facilities Maintenance 10-Year Plan
Brian Schultz, Director of Finance, and Mark Fortman, Director of Operations, presented the ISD 197 long-term facilities maintenance 10-year plan. Each school district needs to have several items approved by their board to receive funding under this program. Funding is based on a per adjusted pupil unit allowance of $380 and generates approximately $2.1 million. Approximately $908,000 of this is allocated to the debt service fund to pay off the Facility Maintenance Bond that was issued in 2022. Funding is all part of the district local property tax levy. Revenue generated for this program can be used for various deferred maintenance projects (restore district facilities to like new condition) and health and safety projects throughout the district. There are also restrictions on revenue use. The funds cannot be used to change the use or functionality of the building/space, add additional space or for security/violence prevention. District administration recommended maximizing this funding source to address deferred maintenance projects throughout the district.
The motion carried (7-0).

Middle School Schedule Recommendation
Cari Jo Drewitz, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, presented the middle school schedule recommendation. This was presented to the board in detail at their meeting on May 15, 2023. 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. 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
  • “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

The schedule recommendation will be brought back to the board for approval at their meeting on June 13, 2023.

Triennial Assessment and Wellness Policy Review
Mark Fortman, Director of Operations, Meghan Bernard, Sustainability Coordinator, and Stacie O’Leary, Health Services Coordinator, presented the wellness triennial assessment report along with an administrative review of Policy 533, Wellness. Every three years, the school district needs to evaluate compliance with the wellness policy and review the progress toward their goals. The district is meeting their goals in the areas of nutrition promotion and education; physical activity; school-based activities to promote student wellness; nutrition guidelines on all foods and beverages for sale on the school campus; and nutrition guidelines for other foods and beverages on the school campus but not sold. One area fell into the “partially meeting goal” and that is marketing and advertising of only foods and beverages that meet Smart Snacks. Earlier in the meeting, the board approved a Joint Powers Agreement with Dakota County for school and worksite wellness grant funds from the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). For FY23-24, this grant funding will fund three projects-a water filling station at the Early Learning Center; outdoor classroom and recreation equipment to support curriculum, co-curricular activities, and family/community engagement programming at Garlough and Pilot Knob Elementary Schools; and a staff lactation room at Somerset Elementary. Mr. Fortman stated that Policy 533, Wellness, has gone through an administrative review. This policy was last reviewed in June of 2020. It was also reviewed against MSBA’s model policy and continues to mostly match that language. Based on the review, only minor changes were made to incorporate the term “guardian” into several places.
The motion carried (7-0).

Tri-District Community Education Advisory Council Update
Lisa Grathen, Director of Community Education, presented an update from the Tri-District Community Education Advisory Council. TriDistrict Community Education is a partnership serving the school districts of South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, and West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan. Programming is offered in all three districts serving all ages, from birth through older adults. This partnership operates under the guidance of the TriDistrict Advisory Council. The council includes staff, board and community members from each of the three communities. The work of council members is to:

  • Identify and assess community education needs, interests, and concerns, and recommend areas of program development.
  • Asist in the coordination of programs and services and eliminate duplications.
  • Expand the improve communication and collaboration among the community.

This year, the committee developed a plan to incorporate youth voice into their work; created a marketing kit for promoting Community Education at community events; and worked to increase knowledge of the South Suburban Adult Education Program.

Equity Advisory Committee Update
Peter Mau, Assistant Superintendent, and Kevin Sheridan, Educational Equity Coordinator, presented an update from the Equity Advisory Committee. The role of this committee is to advise district administration on matters related to equity and how that relates to the work of the district’s Strategic Framework. The diverse committee includes students, family members and staff. Work from this committee has included recruiting, hiring and retaining staff of color; elevating student voice; sustaining equity leadership; offering culturally relevant teaching; building bridges between the schools and communities; and developing and implementing culturally inclusive systems. This year, the committee developed a shared purpose for their work; developed more opportunities for supporting LGBTQIA+ students; implemented additional strategies for recruiting, retaining and hiring staff of color; and working to create an equity policy for the school district.

Review of FY24 Budgets
Brian Schultz, Director of Finance, presented the proposed 2023-2024 budgets (General, Community Service, Food Service, and Debt Service). Mr. Schultz went over the budget assumptions for revenues and expenditures for the General Fund. Budget parameters included no changes in general fund fees, building staff allocations or class size staffing ratios. Projected General Fund revenue for FY 23-24 is $85,316,540 while expenditures are projected at 85,694,144. The projected total ending fund balance is $7,797,484. Mr. Schultz presented the proposed 2023-2024 budgets for the Community Service, Food Service, and Debt Service funds. Projected revenue for the Community Service fund budget is $4,642,651 with expenditures at $4,619,498 with an ending fund balance of $751,646. Projected revenue for the Food Service fund budget is $3,756,050 with expenditures at $3,754,515 with an ending restricted fund balance of $575,057. Projected revenue for the Debt Service fund budget is $9,597,405 with expenditures at $10,204,673 with an ending restricted fund balance of $1,958,085. Approval of the General, Community Service, Food Service and Debt Service budgets will be requested at the June 13 board meeting.

Updates to the FY23-24 District Academic Calendar
Cari Jo Drewitz, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, presented updates to the FY23-24 district academic calendar. This calendar was presented at the October 17, 2022 board work session and approved at their November 14, 2022 meeting. The past few years, the high school has had “flex learning” days on days where assessments are given. On these days, students in grades that are not testing stay home and complete assignments while students who are testing come to school. For the upcoming school year, the high school intends to have three flex learning days - two of which are for assessment:

  • Tuesday March 5, 2024 when the ACT is administered to all juniors.

Tuesday April 9, 2024 when the MCA Reading and MCA Math assessments are given to sophomores and juniors.

  • As staff continue to work on improving transition to high school, the administration is seeking the approval of a third flex day, Tuesday November 21, 2023, to bring 8th grade students to the high school. The day would provide 8th graders the opportunity to learn about their transition to high school, prepare for course selections, meet their high school counselor, interact with high school students, eat in the cafeteria, and tour the building. This day would also provide opportunities for our high school students to demonstrate leadership and service.

This recommendation will be brought back to the board for approval at their meeting on June 13, 2023.

Closed Session
Board members recessed to a closed session, pursuant to MN Statute 13D.03, Subd. 1, to discuss labor
negotiations strategy.
The motion carried (7-0).