Austin Packer Bulletin - August 25
Volume 2, Issue 4
At Austin Public Schools, we are ready and eager to prepare all learners to make a difference in the world. After a refreshing summer break, our district is excited about all the achievements in store for our students, teachers, and staff this upcoming year.
As we look forward to welcoming students back to school, we continue pursuing our district's strategic vision for the future. Last year, the Austin School Board approved a strategic plan to guide our district's long-term planning. Our goals include:
- Providing support and resources to ensure a safe and welcoming learning environment
- Creating a "Packer Profile" for all learners, which includes building strong Core Values (Responsibility, Resiliency, Learner, Communicator, and Contributor)
- Ensuring district-wide, multi-tiered systems of support for all learners
- Demonstrating efficient and equitable resource management
We hold our students to a high standard – and I also expect accountability for myself and our district's leadership. That's why we will share occasional updates throughout this next school year about our progress toward our strategic goals. I hope you'll join me on the journey. As always, we welcome your questions and feedback.
Thank you for all you do for our students and our schools. See you soon, Packers!
Dr. Joey Page, Superintendent
Austin Students Show Mixed Progress On MCAs
Austin Public Schools students showed modest gains in Math and stayed steady in Reading MCAs this spring.
Why it matters:
Developing incremental growth is key to student success, and Austin Public Schools is committed to finding ways to foster that in all students.
In Math, student proficiency grew by 3.5% versus 2020-2021, while in Reading, student scores remained steady.
- 27.8% of tested students showed proficiency in Math versus 24.3% in 2020-2021.
- 35.4% of tested students showed proficiency in Reading versus 34.5% in 2020-2021.
In both cases, this year's results show growth from the 2020-2021 MCA tests, the first administration of the tests post-COVID.
A Minnesota Department of Education press release on the state's overall results shared:
Assessment results are mixed with a 1% increase in overall math scores, a 1% decrease in reading scores, and a 2% decrease in science scores since assessments were last completed in 2022. Scores in each assessment area remain about 10 percentage points below their pre-pandemic levels from 2019.
"These statewide assessment results reinforce what we and other states around the country already know—our students, families, school communities, and educators are continuing to recover from the pandemic and need our support," said Commissioner Willie Jett. "This data is important as one part of a broader set of measures that tell us how our students and families are doing and what we need to do in partnership with our school communities to provide support for students to not only recover, but also excel." See the full MDE release here.
"Student growth is an encouraging sign," says Superintendent Dr. Joey Page. "Our new strategic plan is helping us focus our efforts toward student success, and our staff have been working hard to address the needs of all children, both in and out of the classroom. We're excited to see where our next steps take us."
A big part of those next steps is the implementation of the district's new Packer Profile. This multi-year framework will require Austin graduates to demonstrate their learning via a portfolio showcasing the knowledge and standards they have met throughout their high school career.
"Education is a changing landscape," says Dr. Page, "and we're striving to adapt and make the necessary changes for our students to be successful."
The bottom line:
Austin Public Schools is committed to helping students find success. The incremental growth seen in this year's MCA results is encouraging and will hopefully continue in an upward trajectory with our strategic plan and the implementation of our priorities.
You can find Austin Public Schools district data here.
The Standard Response Protocol (SRP)
The safety and security of students and staff are our top priority in Austin Public Schools. We use the SRP that has been developed by the I Love U Guys Foundation. A critical ingredient in the safe school recipe is the uniform classroom response to an incident at school. Weather events, fires, accidents, intruders, and other threats to student safety are scenarios that are planned and trained for by the school and district administration and staff.
A uniform, planned, and practiced response to any incident is the foundation of a safe school. The SRP is action-based, flexible, and easy to learn. It rationally organizes tactics for response to weather events, fires, accidents, intruders, and other threats to personal safety.
The SRP's development is ever-evolving, created with extensive collaboration between experts such as first responders, public safety, school, districts, and communities. Its tactics are data-driven, researched, and based on experience and contemporary practices.
Open communication among the school, parents/caregivers, and students is crucial. We encourage everyone to help provide a safe, secure, and welcoming learning environment by involving our entire school community. We will engage with all stakeholders through regular meetings and district communications that help answer questions and provide updates on our progress.
AOA Featured on KTTC
The APS student handbooks help provide information and required notices to students, parents, or guardians.
Our handbooks are comprised of four sections: (1) Information, (2) Academics, (3) Rules & Discipline, and (4) Health & Safety, and include:
• Notices that are required by law and/or policy
• Table of contents for easy reference
• Appendix of key School Board policies referenced in the handbook
Educational Benefits Form
Families can fill out the Application for Educational Benefits form to determine if they qualify for educational benefits such as reduced price or free activities and athletics, lowered fees, and more.
Although all students are receiving free breakfast and lunch this school year, it is still crucial that families fill out the Application for Educational Benefits. Districts depend on these applications to help fund many programs outside of school lunches.
Qualifying for Educational Benefits can benefit your family by lowering the cost of activities/athletics, testing, and field trip fees. If the P-EBT is renewed, it can mean dollars for your family.
If you have already completed an application for the 23-24 school year, thank you! If you still need to complete this process, you can fill out the application online at https://austin.k12.mn.us/frp. If you prefer a paper application, pick one up at your student's school or call 460-1821, and we will send one.
Early Riser Kiwanis: Kids Closet Program
Austin Public Schools would like to thank the Austin Early Risers Kiwanis, the Evangelical Free Church, and the Austin Eagles Club for their generous $ 3,500 donation to the Kids Closet program.
Now in its 8th year, the Kids Closet program provides elementary-aged students with needed clothing essentials such as socks, underwear, and t-shirts. "This really started with the recognition that teachers were buying these things for their students out of their own pockets," says Kiwanis' Rick Young, "and now most of our fundraising for the year goes to support this. We've really enjoyed getting to see the program flourish."
The donation will be split evenly between Woodson Kindergarten Center, Banfield Elementary School, Neveln Elementary School, Southgate Elementary School, Sumner Elementary School, the Community Learning Center, and Austin Head Start.
Minnesota State High School League
MSHSL and Austin Public Schools are partners in all activities that happen within our schools. Please watch this video to learn more about MSHSL's three main goals:
- Providing safe, respectful, and inclusive environments
- Recruiting and retaining coaches, officials, and school administrators
- Maintaining our focus on educational-based activities and sports
Important Technology Information
Information About Re-Enrolling in Health Care Coverage
Due to the pandemic Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare renewals were paused but are now restarting. More than 1.5 million Minnesotans on Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare will need their program eligibility reviewed through a renewal process by May 2024.
Minnesotans who have Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare can now get text messages about renewing their health insurance.The Minnesota Department of Human Services is texting important updates and announcements. The messages will prompt people when it's time to take action to keep their insurance.
"We want people to stay covered," said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. "Text messaging is a common-sense way to reach them with important information."
Texts from DHS about insurance will always come from the number "28343." The reminders are not interactive, and no one should respond by texting personal information. Enrollees will receive renewal forms by mail. The text messages will notify them to watch their mail for the renewal packet and remind them to submit the forms by the deadline.
Completing and sending the forms back as soon as possible with any necessary documentation will help people keep their insurance. DHS is also developing user-friendly ways to complete the renewal process by submitting documents online or over the phone.
One in four Minnesotans has insurance through the programs. Losing insurance makes it harder to get health care and could worsen health disparities. Find out more about renewals, including how to update contact information and get texts here.
Mower County Backpack Program
Speaking of Health
In this week's Alumni Spotlight, we catch up with alumnus Izzie Tufte.
Are you an alumnus of Austin Public Schools? If so, we'd love to hear from you! We're excited to hear about your accomplishments and are eager to share your successes and advice with our current students, families, and the Austin community.
All you need to do is take a minute to answer a few quick questions at https://www.austin.k12.mn.us/alumni-spotlight.
Thanks, and we look forward to hearing all your wonderful stories!
At Austin Public Schools, our mission is to inspire, empower, and accelerate every one of our learners, and we know that the only way for us to reach this goal is through the efforts of all our incredibly hard-working staff.
In this week’s Staff Spotlight, we’re highlighting Woodson Kindergarten Center teacher Debbie Lewis.
"Debbie is an amazing educator that values each and every student and staff member that she works with. Her passion and dedication for education is truly inspiring."
If you’d like to nominate an outstanding Austin Public Schools staff member for our weekly Staff Spotlight, please take a moment to fill out the form at https://www.austin.k12.mn.us/district-resources/staff-spotlight. It only takes a minute and can truly make someone’s day. Thanks!
Superintendent Coffee and Conversation
Superintendent Coffee and Conversation
Please consider joining me at the Coffee House on Main for coffee and conversation.
Coffee House on Main
329 Main Street North
Austin, MN 55912
- September 11 – 7:00-7:45 AM
- October 23 – 7:00-7:45 AM
- November 27 – 7:00-7:45 AM
- December 20 – 7:00-7:45 AM
Or you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 507-460-1900 to schedule an appointment.
* Dates are subject to change
Monday, Sep 11, 2023, 07:00 AM
329 Main Street North, Austin, MN, USA
In The News
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Austin Public Schools is committed to creating an inclusive environment that values the diversity of its employees and does not discriminate against any employee or candidate based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, familial status or membership or activity in a local commission. The school district strongly encourages anyone interested to apply to join our teams. Reasonable accommodations to access job openings or to apply for a job are available. Click here to learn more.