Owatonna Public Schools

District Newsletter - October 2021

Mission Moment Spotlight

During the September school board meeting, Superintendent Elstad recognized the Owatonna Public Schools’ Human Resources Department. We are #OwatonnaProud of this team for their commitment to providing high-quality teaching and learning in their work with employees, programs, and resources. Over the past year, this team has gone above and beyond their normal work duties with COVID-related matters, including providing coverage in school buildings.

Pictured: Mallory Herman (Human Resources Generalist), Cheryl Summer (Human Resources Specialist), and Chris Picha (Human Resources Director)

New High School On Schedule and On Budget

Bob Olson, Director of Facilities, Infrastructure, and Security

Two years ago our generous Owatonna community supported building a new Owatonna High School, through both their votes and donations. Since then, the school district has been hard at work designing and building the new school, which is set to open fall 2023. The great news: our community’s new high school is on budget and with much of the work ahead of schedule.

From a construction point of view, the dry summer has been a blessing, enabling crews to get more done than planned. We may even go into the winter season about a month ahead of schedule. If you drive by the site (1945 SE 18th Street; intersection of Bixby Road and SE 18th St) you should see some of the interior stair towers have been erected, the stadium and varsity softball field light towers are up, and the stadium bleacher footings have been poured. According to our construction manager Kraus-Anderson, the project is on track and things are going well.

One of the most important parts of building a new high school is the planning and design phase. Staff, students and community members joined forces with our planning team to develop a design that met our community’s needs and would provide a 21st century education for our students. Once the design phase was complete, our construction management team took over, with an initial focus on getting the most qualified bids possible - with a goal to get the best high school possible without going over budget.

Thanks to good planning, hard work and other factors, we were thrilled when the actual bids from contractors came in lower than the estimated budget. This allowed us to add some additional items off our wish list that we originally did not think we could afford. This list was developed with input from the school board’s facilities committee, students and staff members.

Please drive by the construction site and take a peek. You can also scan the QR code on the 18th Street fence or follow progress with notes and photos on the school district website.

We are so grateful to have a community that supports our schools. And we are #OwatonnaProud to say our new Owatonna High School is on schedule and on budget!

Read the full article here.

Now Accepting Applications for the Existing Owatonna High School Citizens' Task Force

The Owatonna Public Schools’ Existing Owatonna High School Citizens’ Task Force is being convened to examine the future of the existing Owatonna High School facility, which will no longer be used for 9-12 instruction when the new high school opens in 2023. As a part of the November 2019 Bond Referendum, the community voted to approve question #2 which allocated funds for the conversion of portions of the building for District use. As a part of this funding request, the District committed to engaging the community about the future of the facility, and this Existing OHS Citizens’ Task Force is a part of that process.

Anyone interested in serving on the Task Force is asked to complete an application that can be found on the school district’s website: www.isd761.org.

Applications must be received by 4:00 pm CST on October 15, 2021 to be considered. It is the intent of the District to assemble a Task Force of 20-30 members to represent a broad cross-section of the community, and those who served on the 2019 Task Force are welcome to apply. The Task Force will meet approximately six (6) times, November through January. Applicants must be residents of the District, and attendance at all meetings is critical. Those selected for the Task Force will be notified by October 25, 2021.

For more information or to apply, please visit the school district website: www.isd761.org.

School Board Approves Decrease in the Preliminary Tax Levy

Every fall, the school board certifies the preliminary tax levy for the next school year. On Tuesday, September 28, the School Board approved the preliminary tax levy for the 2022-2023 school year. The largest portion of the school district tax is a result of the community's support of the bond and operating levies. The preliminary figures indicate that the total school district levy will decrease by approximately 1.46%. In comparison, the state average for school district property tax levies is increasing by 4.5%. The final numbers will be certified by the school board after the Truth in Taxation hearing on December 13.

Coffee and Conversation with Superintendent Elstad

The community is invited to join Superintendent Elstad for “coffee and conversation” at the Owatonna Public Schools District Office (515 West Bridge Street, Door #1) on Wednesday, October 13 at 11:00 am. Hear an update on what’s been happening within the school district and bring any questions you have. We hope you are able to attend!

State of the District

On Monday, November 8, a State of the District video from Superintendent Jeff Elstad will be available on the school district website.

The address will include a year in review, the strategic roadmap, an update on the new high school construction, and information about pandemic recovery.

To watch the State of the District address on November 8, please visit the school district's website: www.isd761.org.

Winter Clothes Drive

Bring your new or used winter gear to help Owatonna families stay warm this year!

The school social work department is doing a winter clothes drive! It starts October 4th and will end on October 15th. There will be a donation box in the school offices for new and used items. Once all items are collected, they will be dispersed throughout the district to families in need.

What we need used or new: coats, hats, mittens, boots, snow pants, tennis shoes (sizes infant through teen)

Red Ribbon Week

October 25-October 31, 2021

Annual Drug Prevention Celebration

Even during these uncertain times, we are looking for ways to promote a healthy lifestyle for our youth. Substance use and abuse have been on the rise during our global pandemic. Please join our schools and community as we celebrate Red Ribbon Week during the month of October. This is an annual national drug prevention celebration. The D.E.A. estimates that over 80 million people, nationwide, celebrate this event. Adults can support our youth to make a pledge to live a drug-free life.

OHS SHOC (Students Helping Others Choose) is active during the week along with local Noon Kiwanis and the Steele County Safe and Drug-Free Coalition. A variety of activities are hosted for our youth. Our schools will have red decorations adorning hallways, pledge banners, and OMS/OHS prevention lunch booths. There will be a 4th-grade drug prevention poster contest. These posters will be displayed in local storefronts as well as in the schools.

Families are encouraged to attend our RRW Kickoff Event at the Owatonna Middle School in the cafeteria. Owatonna’s Mayor Kuntz will be there to read the Red Ribbon Week Proclamation. In addition, there will be free food, lots of activities and we will honor our 4th-grade “Drug-Free Looks Like Me!” poster contest winners. SHOC students will be leading activities and handing out Halloween treats and prizes to kids. The coalition will be sharing literature with parents about how to help keep their kids healthy and drug-free.

Support our youth and encourage each of them to make a pledge to live a healthy drug-free lifestyle. I hope to see everyone at the Owatonna Middle School on Tuesday, Oct. 26th from 5:00-6:30 at our Red Ribbon Week kick-off event!

Nancy Williams, MSW LICSW

School Social Worker & SHOC Advisor

Owatonna High School

We are Hiring!

We need your help! Owatonna Public Schools has found it increasingly challenging to recruit candidates, especially in the following positions:

  • Substitute Teachers (4-year degree required)

  • Special Education Paraprofessionals

  • Custodians

  • School-Aged Care Assistants

  • Nutrition Services Staff

  • MORE!

Why join our ISD761 team?

  • Make a difference for kids in your community

  • Chance to work near home

  • Personal and professional growth opportunities

  • Competitive wages

  • On the job training

Please apply today or help us bring new talent to Owatonna Public Schools by referring applicants to our team. More information on open positions can be found on the school district website: www.isd761.org/careers.

Purchase Game Tickets Online

This year, game tickets are sold electronically through Hometown Ticketing. Click here to purchase game tickets. Once there, scroll down and click on the event for which you need tickets - football, volleyball, etc. You may also purchase a ticket for your child electronically and then text or email the QR code to them, or you can print it and give them the printout. Electronic tickets through Hometown Ticketing is the new and preferred way to purchase game/event tickets.

Learn More

Click here for the activity pass rates.

To purchase activity passes or game tickets, click here.

Activities office phone number: 507-444-8988

Apply for Benefits

Breakfast and lunch meals are free to all students again this school year. However, we ask that all families continue to complete an Application for Educational Benefits to determine if your children are eligible for other benefits, such as reduced rates for activity fees and Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits. These applications also help provide critical funding for educational interventions, school social workers and counselors, and instructional materials. Visit isd761.org/district-services/nutrition-services and click the “Application for Educational Benefits” tab on the left. Paper copies are available at the District Office. Applications may be submitted any time throughout the school year.

Stay Connected!

Celebrate our students, our staff and our schools by following us on social media. If you like what you see, be sure to share it with others. Together, we are #OwatonnaProud!

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