School Board Update

November 2020

Meeting Overview

Each month the board is presented with non-action and action items for their consideration. A few noteworthy items from this month's meeting are included here.


Items Approved by the Board


Full board agenda can be found here.

Superintendent's Report - Dr. Rudolph

Referendum

When we placed the referendum on the ballot in August, we knew our community faced difficult choices, yet we felt a responsibility to at least ask the question. In all of our meetings and conversations, it was clear that citizens of our community agree our schools are underfunded. They agreed the need is real. But our community is also struggling right now, and can’t give what they don’t have.


November 3rd’s vote does not erase the need for our school budgets and our students. We need to invest in our youth; they bring us hope for the future. They are the future of rural America. Our commitments to children and learning do not wane. Our school funding system in Minnesota is broken. Rural Minnesota will continue to be neglected. If we are to change the trajectory, it will be up to us and we will continue to find solutions to do so.


In the coming weeks, we will be pulling together a community task force to begin the process of further reducing our budget and planning for our future. If you are interested in serving on that task force, please complete this interest form.

Administration Report Highlights

ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES & HUMAN RESOURCES

by: Shawn Kirkeide


The Human Resources Department continues to support C-I staff in a multitude of ways as we navigate through these difficult times. The HR team is working with staff on leave options, offering EAP services as appropriate, and answering numerous questions with empathy and compassion. Helping others is such rewarding work and we feel honored to spend our days serving the staff of C-I Schools.


Our Fall Job Fair, which was scheduled for October 20th, was impacted by the first significant snowfall of the season. We were able to secure a few new hires for the custodial department with the limited turnout, though attendance was lower than we were hoping it would be. We did receive a few calls in the days following the job fair from people who were unable to make it that night due to road conditions. We’ll continue to work on filling the remaining open positions.


The Wellness Committee met for the first time on October 28th and started brainstorming ideas for wellness initiatives to launch this school year. The team is planning on coming back together in the following weeks to finalize the first initiative that we hope to push out before the holidays. We thank PreferredOne for providing the funds necessary to implement all of our wellness activities. They do this to incentivize wellness in the hopes of engaging staff in healthy activities that in turn help keep our medical insurance claims down and premiums low.


This past week we also met with the Insurance Committee. George Vander Weit from One Digital presented on our claims and stated that the claims are running very similar to past years. We received good news in that at this point we aren’t seeing anything to be concerned about. We are also getting ready to send out an RFP (request for proposal) to providers to get insurance proposals, something that we are required to do every two years.


FINANCE AND OPERATIONS

by: Christopher Kampa, CFA


Finance

The audit needs to be completed by November 30th and we are on pace to meet that deadline. We are managing COVID-related expenses and revenues. The district will receive approximately $2.3 million in CARES funding from the federal, state, and county governments. Last week we submitted our first funding draw for state CARES funding in an amount of just under $1 million. We are also in the process of renewing our property and liability insurance policy. We are expecting a tight market that could lead to significant premium increases. However, we are hopeful that we can realize some savings on our workers compensation premiums.


Transportation


We are in the process of ordering two larger wheelchair buses. Our need for wheelchair buses has been increasing in recent years leading to a need for more specialized transportation. By adding larger buses to our fleet we expect to consolidate some routes, which could result in reduced operational expenses.


Food Service

We are providing school meals at all locations and at four grab-and-go sites across the district. Thus far, we have successfully managed staffing challenges under COVID and we’ve not yet had to shut down any kitchens. We are also currently working through our annually required verification of benefit applications.


Building & Grounds

Our custodial and grounds crews faced the typical COVID-related challenges for the month of October. Our inside crews continue to shine, working through all the different tasks sent their way. They continue to do outstanding work, keeping our buildings clean and disinfected for each and every day. The grounds crew are finishing all of their outside projects and we are maintaining the high school football field and practice sites. Mother nature even provided us with an early October snow event. Like clockwork, the sidewalks and entrances were ready to go the very next day for everyone to safely enter and exit the buildings. Special thanks to Dirtworks for removing the snow on the football field so our varsity football team could play. We are now into the part of the year where we are planning and developing our upcoming summer projects. We will continue to work within our budgets to maintain our facilities and are always looking at how we can stretch our funding as much as possible to get as much done as possible, on time and under budget.



TEACHING & LEARNING

by: Dr. Brenda Damiani


Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee

The first Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee meeting is scheduled for November 19. This committee includes staff and community members. The committee will be reviewing our Return to Learn Plan, World’s Best Workforce Plan, American Indian Education Plan, and our Title I Plans. Any community members who are interested in joining this committee can email Brenda Damiani at bdamiani@c-ischools.org.


Data and Assessment

We are working on developing a district-wide balanced assessment system. Grade-level principals, academic coaches, and the Department of Teaching and learning are identifying items such as: common language; assessment definitions; data analysis that aligns with Marzano framework; and assessment design. This smaller group will then identify a team consisting of grade and content area teacher representatives who will work on planning professional development opportunities for staff.


Curriculum

Monday, October 12, was the first day of hybrid learning in the elementary schools, and we are continuously improving upon the activities that we are sending home in the learning bundles that are to be completed for practice and attendance purposes. We are also prioritizing the MN Academic Standards to deliver the most important instruction necessary when students are in school two days a week. Teachers and administrators across the elementary schools are collaborating to create the best learning experience possible for students. Our secondary schools continue to look at ways to increase engagement and connections on the days students are learning from home. Thanks to the flexibility of all involved and the support of families as we strive for continuous improvement to our learning plans.



STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

by: Julie Williams


Special Education

MDE Review Update

During the 2018-2019 school year, Cambridge-Isanti Schools underwent an MDE Review (previously known as the Special Ed MDE Audit), along with the entire Rum River Special Education Cooperative, as we were still part of the cooperative at that time. The purpose of the MDE Review was to determine whether the districts current special education programs are

conducted consistent with state and federal laws and rules. Although the MDE Review took place while Cambridge-Isanti was part of the Rum River Special Education Cooperative; the district was responsible for the Corrective Action Plans that resulted from the Review.


The monitoring process included a review of:

  • The district’s total special education system (TSES) plan and restrictive procedures plan (RPP)

  • Eight district sites where special education services are provided

  • Interview responses from the special education director, general education administrators, special education teachers and paraprofessionals, related services personnel and general education teachers

  • Previous monitoring and self-review reports

  • Formal complaint history

  • Eleven Part B (students ages 3 through 21) and two Part C (children from birth to age 3) student records


If an area is identified as a finding of systemic noncompliance, the district is required to develop and implement a corrective action plan (CAP) to address each finding within one year of the date of the report. The MDE Review detailed 12 CAPs for Cambridge-Isanti Schools.


Despite an MDE delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am happy to report that all the CAPs required by Cambridge-Isanti Schools have been addressed, submitted to MDE and now have been approved by MDE.


Special Education Leadership Team

The Special Ed Leadership Team (SELT) met on 11/6/20 and had a great first meeting of the year. We were able to discuss creative solutions buildings are using this year to provide services to students in the different learning models and further discuss creative ideas for completing due process paperwork. Staff are working hard in each of the buildings to meet the needs of all our students!


Nursing

The nursing group continues to collaborate as we work through the contact tracing requirements of COVID-19. They have been instrumental in following procedures and protocols to ensure guidance is being followed and we are able to slow the spread of COVID.