Summer Update:

ISD 709 News 7/22/21

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families,

It’s surprising to see that we are already in the second half of July! I hope that each of you has had a much deserved opportunity to rest, relax, recharge, and connect with friends and family over these past few weeks.

Despite the slightly slower pace, there has been a lot of great district work going on behind the scenes. Between our expanded summer school offerings, planning for five days a week of in-person learning in the fall, property sale agreements, operational planning, transitional planning to move from Historic Old Central High School, and other endeavors, I am so thankful for the efforts of our teams.

As we look to the coming school year, I am more excited about education than I have ever been. After the challenges of the past two years, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to recalibrate and provide learning opportunities that are better than anything we have ever offered.

I could not be more proud of our students, staff, families, administration and community, not just for making it past the most challenging days of the pandemic, but also for the courage, creativity and spirit that you have shown in growing from what we learned through this experience.

With deep respect and appreciation,

John Magas

If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email:

Safe Learning Plan

The Safe Learning Plan provides current guidance for staff, programs, and outside organizations using ISD 709 sites during the 2021-22 School year.

The document was recently updated to reflect current plans as we prepare to welcome students back in September.

Subject to change based on future state, federal and local guidance.

2021 Minnesota School Social Worker of the Year

Congratulations to Tracy Litman, Ordean East Middle School, named Minnesota School Social Worker of the Year by the MSSWA! School Social Workers provide a vital link between school, home and community. The Award recognizes individuals who reflect the highest professional standards, demonstrate creative leadership and service within the professional and the wider community. Ms. Litman will be formally recognized by the MN School Social Workers Association during a virtual ceremony this fall.


Congratulations, Facilities Staff!

Congratulations to the following Facilities Staff who earned special licensure! They studied, took tests and received licensure during one of the most demanding years faced by our school community.

  • Special Engineer: Tatyana Kudiabergenova, Erik Johnson, Lance Tucker, Dane Benson, Frederick Freel, Darrell Johnson, Anthony Guzzo, Brad Morberg
  • 2nd Class:, Pat Shaw, Gerald Lefaive, Stef Regenold
  • 1st Class: Ben Thompson
  • Chief C: Stephen Kolberg
"I'm proud of our facilities staff and all they accomplished during this challenging time," says Heather Ashbaugh, Superivisor of Building Operations. ""It is crucial that we have qualified operations employees to staff our buildings at all times to comply with MN State guidelines. Achieving this licensure is a great accomplishment for these staff members and also a benefit to our schools."

Ashbaugh partnered with Union leadership to purchase training books and develop a plan to encourage and support staff in pursuing this licensing.

"Our facilities staff have gone above and beyond in service to our schools," said Dave Spooner, Facilities Manager. "I appreciate the work of Heather Ashbaugh in mentoring staff and encouraging them to act as mentors in their own capacity. She respects the staff's input and knowledge, is available and responsive to staff inquiries. She brings vast amounts of knowledge in custodial processes gained through actual years of experience and education, her leadership and support of our facilities staff is appreciated."


Big picture

2021 NSPRA Golden Achievement Award

The Duluth Public Schools “We Can Northland” COVID campaign received a 2021 Golden Achievement Award from the National School Public Relations Association. The award recognizes exemplary work in all aspects of school public relations, communication, marketing and engagement.

Many people who worked together to support this project, which included TV PSAs, social media PSAs, posters, newsletter articles and local press coverage. Participants in the campaign included students, teachers, coaches and administrators from Duluth East, Denfeld, Superior and Proctor High Schools; Duluth and Superior Mayors and Superintendents; St. Louis County and Duluth NAACP representatives and other community leaders.

This is the 5th National Golden Achievement Award for Duluth Public Schools. The district also holds a National Gold Medallion Award, the highest award presented by the NSPRA.

ESSER Fund Investments

Using a wide range of family, staff and community input, the Duluth school district is identifying and prioritizing use of ESSER funds. Funding allocations will need to be applied for and approved by the MN Department of Education. Allocations are for the 2021-22 school year only.

Identified funding priorities include, but are not limited to:

  • Student Mental Health
  • Academic Intervention
  • Additional FTE Toward Class Size
  • Attendance Support for Students, Families
  • Professional Development
  • Staff Recruitment and Retention

ESSER is the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund established by Congress. Means of gathering input into Duluth Public School's use of ESSER funds include family surveys, staff surveys, meetings with building and department leaders, feedback from other regional and similar size school districts, community partners, and local health official and other municipalities including the City of Duluth and St. Louis County.

2021-22 Operational Planning

The 2021/22 Operational Plan is intended to provide a unified and focused approach to support our transition from education during the pandemic to a new and better normal for our students, families and staff.

The transition will require district-wide focus in all schools on:

  • Addressing student learning needs through our multi-tiered systems and supports

  • Addressing student social emotional learning and mental health needs through our multi-tiered systems and supports

  • Increasing knowledge and application of our Equity Framework

  • Implementation of our Blended Learning Initiative

The Operational Plan will inform and lead into a longer range and continuous District Strategic Plan as has been prioritized by district stakeholders.

HOCHS & Central Hill Project

The Duluth School Board entered into a $7.4 million dollar purchase agreement with Saturday Central Heights, LLC for a 52+ acre portion of the Central High School property on the top of the hill. Over the next year, the Duluth School District, Saturday Central Heights, LLC and the City of Duluth will work together to finalize the sale and redevelopment of the property.

“The Board unanimously approved moving forward with the purchase agreement,” said Jill Lofald, Board Chairperson. “This is an exciting next step which will be beneficial for our schools and our community.”

The sale and redevelopment of this property is the culmination of a plan put in place by the Duluth School Board in 2019 that included the sale and redevelopment of Historic Old Central High School, as well as the relocation of the district’s transportation and district services center. In October 2020, the school board approved a $3 million purchase agreement for HOCHS with Saturday Properties.

This plan to sell both properties was adopted by the board to create efficiencies within the district and to aid in the redevelopment of two important Duluth properties, allowing for the district to focus additional efforts on existing school facilities and student outcomes.

Read the Press Release

HOCHS Project Web Page

We're Hiring!

At Duluth Public Schools, we offer much more than just a paycheck. We provide rewarding regular and substitute jobs in a variety of roles and the opportunity to impact the lives our our students on a daily basis. Join our team today!

Current Job Openings, Apply Online Today

Help Students Learn A Career In Construction

The ISD 709 Construction Technology class seeks potential building projects in the line of sheds, garages or other possibilities for the 2021-22 school year.

Please contact the instructor or leave a phone message at 336-8845 ext 4082.


Free Summer Tutoring Available

Free tutoring for K-12 students is available through the CSS/ISD 709 Tutor Program. We have tutors in most grade levels and subjects. They've completed training and are ready to work with Duluth students!

Click here to book tutoring appointments.

  • Once there you will be able to choose the grade level needed, the content, the tutor and the time they are available.
  • Once you book a tutoring session you will receive an email with the details of your appointment.
  • Appointments are online. A link to the video conference session will be sent with the email.

If you have any questions please feel free to email Beth LaVigne

Free Summer Meals for Children

Free Grab & Go Breakfast & Lunch Available to Students Through the Summer! Bagged meals available weekdays to students 18 years of age and younger. No paperwork necessary. Any student can pick up a meal at any location. Parents/Guardians can pick up the bagged meal without students present.

  • Free grab & go summer meals run through August 20, 2021

Locations & time posted at

Questions? 218-336-8707. This institution is an equal opportunity provider

ISD 709 News

We know there are a lot of great things going on in our schools - let's make sure we're letting everyone else know, too! Share your school, student, staff accomplishments, projects and events with, they'll be used in email newsletters, social media, websites and other communication venues.

Denfeld Students, Staff Host MN Governor Visit

Governor Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan and MN Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller visited students and teachers at Denfeld High School.

Governor Walz helped time students taking part in a Science class project on acceleration, talked with the Denfeld football coach and made a stop in the historic Denfeld Auditorium.

The Governor, Lt. Governor and Commissioner saw first hand and talked about how investment in students this summer, and into the future, is more important than ever, as communities recover from the pandemic.

Many thanks to our state and local leaders, we appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about public education! Thank you, Dr. Marcia Nelson and the teachers, students and staff at Denfeld, for hosting the visit, and to MN Senator Jen McEwen, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, Council President Renee Van Nett, Duluth School Board Members and all who took part in the event.

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