Owatonna Public Schools

District Newsletter

September 2020

Mission Moment

Each month at its regular meeting, the School Board of Owatonna Public Schools recognizes individual students and/or staff members who exemplify the district’s mission of inspiring excellence - every learner, every day.


At the August 24 meeting, the Owatonna Public Schools’ Nutrition Services department was featured during the Mission Moment Spotlight. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, this department pulled together to provide thousands of free meals to children in our community, ages 1-18. Over the summer, they continued to provide free meals and served more than 55,000 meals to kids through “grab and go” stations around the district. That’s more than triple the number of meals that were served in the summer of 2019.


Superintendent Jeff Elstad commented about Director of Nutrition Services Sarah Brooks and her response in providing healthy meals to students during a pandemic, saying that “there isn’t a barrier she can’t overcome.” Our Nutrition Services department exemplifies our mission of inspiring excellence in their commitment to providing a safe and caring community.


Watch the August 24 School Board Meeting

Did you know...?

Owatonna Public Schools' voter-approved operating levy is in the bottom third of the Big 9 Schools - and lower than Faribault and Northfield. These levies are one way local communities support their schools and help pay for school operating costs. Levies support teachers, classroom supplies, custodians, instructional materials, teaching assistants, transportation and more.

Big picture

To help us maintain the quality education our community expects and our students deserve, we have two school levy funding requests on the November 3rd ballot. Learn five fast facts about the Levy 2020 requests, or visit the Levy 2020 website.

Coffee and Conversation with the Superintendent

The community is invited to join Superintendent Elstad for a virtual “coffee and conversation” on Friday, September 11 at 8:00 a.m. Hear an update on what’s been happening within the school district and bring any questions you have.


RSVP to shoffman@isd761.org by the end of the day on Wednesday, September 9 to receive the virtual meeting details. We hope you are able to participate!

State of the District

September 23 at 6:30 PM


Get a first-hand update from Superintendent Jeff Elstad on current initiatives in the district: back-to-school during a pandemic, new high school, Levy 2020 and more. The update will be live-streamed so you can watch from the comfort of your home. There will be a short question and answer time towards the end of the address. The live-stream link and contact info for submitting your questions will be posted on our website (www.isd761.org/stateofdistrict) at 6:30 pm on September 23.

Building Dedication

Melanie Nelson, former Owatonna FACS teacher turned entrepreneur has donated her Learning Zone building to ISD 761.


The Melanie Nelson ISD761 Learning Zone was dedicated yesterday and will eventually be used for staff development, curriculum materials, offset and shipping and receiving.


We are thankful for this very generous donation.

Calendar Update

Please note an important update to the school calendar. October 2nd was previously listed as an early release day for Homecoming. There will not be a Homecoming parade on October 2nd and students will remain in school for the regular school day. Schools will announce other Homecoming events in the near future.


View the district calendar

School Board Candidates

School board members are elected during the November General Election on even years. Members are elected for a four-year term with either three or four members elected. All board members are elected at-large. On November 3, 2020, three members will be elected to the School Board for terms of four years each.


The November 3, 2020 School Board Candidates are:

  • Deborah Bandel
  • Timothy S. Jensen
  • Dom Korbel
  • Abdulahi A. Osman
  • Eric Schuster

More information about what is on your ballot can be found at mnvotes.org.

McKinney-Vento Support for Families In Transition

The Mckinney-Vento act supports families and youth that lack a fixed, regular, and appropriate nighttime residence. Additional support is available from the Owatonna Public Schools for these families.


Qualifying families include those that are:

  • Experiencing a loss of housing

  • Couch hopping or temporarily staying with other people due to your financial circumstances

  • Staying in motels, campgrounds, or vehicles due to a loss of housing

  • Experiencing homelessness or living in a shelter

  • Migrant and staying here temporarily

  • As well as unaccompanied youth that are living without a parent or guardian


If any of these situations are true for your family, you may qualify as a Family in Transition (FIT) under the Mckinney-Vento act and Owatonna Public Schools is here to support you.


If your family qualifies for Mckinney-Vento support, you may be eligible for benefits such as, the right for your child to continue to attend their school of origin when you move boundaries, busing to and from your current residence, free breakfast and lunch, free preschool for age eligible children. Your School Social Worker will also be able to provide additional information for community-based supports that may benefit your family.


Owatonna Public Schools is committed to providing high quality education to all students, regardless of housing status. Please be assured that information on housing status is confidential. If you feel that you may qualify as a Family in Transition, you can receive support by contacting your child’s school social worker or the Family in Transition Liaison, or by completing this confidential google form.

Valuable Tax Benefits for Parents

Save Receipts for School Supplies!

Minnesota Revenue offers two valuable tax benefits for parents who purchase school supplies for their K-12 students, the K-12 Education Credit and Subtraction. These benefits can reduce parents’ taxes to increase their refund, but is only available for those who keep their receipts. Purchases for most school supplies, field trips, and musical instruments for school band are eligible.


Most Minnesota parents qualify for the K-12 subtraction, which reduces their taxable income. Parents under certain income limits may also qualify for the K-12 credit, which can refund up to 75% of their costs – even for parents who don’t owe any taxes. Visit the Minnesota Revenue website for details.


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Inspiring Excellence - Every Learner, Every Day

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