School Board Update
School Board Showcase
Food Service Director Nate Huff's presentation included a recap of the last year and previewed some upcoming changes for next year. You can view the presentation HERE.
Items Approved by the Board
- Primary Food Service Vendor
- Implement a Two-Tier Transportation Model starting at the beginning of the 2021 School Year
- Policy 422 - Policies Incorporated by Reference-Employee
- Policy 523 - Policies Incorporated by Reference-Student
- Policy 531 - The Pledge of Allegiance
- Policy 905 - Advertising
- Policy 907 - Rewards
The full board agenda can be found here or you can watch a recording of the meeting.
Superintendent's Report - Dr. Rudolph
This month has continued to be busy as we begin to wrap up the end of one school year and plan for the next. As we prepare for next year we have been studying transportation options and have brought those options to both the school board and the Community Task Force. Our Community Task Force has also been busy discussing possible revenue solutions as we look at the district’s financial future. We have been engaged in writing letters to lobby our local and state legislators regarding education funding and reducing taxes for our community. We are hopeful that those letters will help make a difference in decisions that will impact our school district for the foreseeable future.
Administration Report Highlights
ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES & HUMAN RESOURCES
by: Shawn Kirkeide
Benefit Open Enrollment
This week marks the completion of our 2021-22 Benefits Open Enrollment period. A special thanks to the Certified Benefits Counselors who worked one-on-one with many staff members to ensure their understanding of our benefit options, while also assisting them with the actual benefit enrollment process. We value our relationship with Aflac, who provided the Benefits Counselors, and look forward to continuing the tradition next year.
This year’s annual staff recognition event, the Bluejacket Celebration, is just around the corner! The virtual event will be held on Thursday, May 27 at 4:00pm, and can be viewed on the District’s Facebook page or YouTube Channel. We’re excited to have family and friends of our staff members, both near and far, be able to join in the celebration of our Years of Service milestones, retirees, and the announcement of our annual award winners!
We’re also holding individual retiree receptions at the Education Services Center (ESC) prior to the premier of the Bluejacket Celebration on the 27th. Invitations have gone out to retirees, inviting them to walk the red carpet to a viewing station which will play a video presentation made specifically for them with photos from their lives and a voiceover celebrating their time with C-I Schools. HR will then present them with their retirement gift (an engraved clock or bell) and a certificate of appreciation from the Superintendent. The Human Resources department always thoroughly enjoys this time of year, and especially the individual time we get to spend with each retiree.
It’s also that time of year when we’re posting jobs, interviewing, and extending offers to staff for the 2021-22 school year. It is exciting to have new employees come through the ESC as part of the onboarding process. Seeing the excitement on their faces, and hearing the joy in their voices, is so inspiring!
FINANCE AND OPERATIONS
by: Christopher Kampa, CFA
We are working with our municipal advisor to develop creative strategies to lower the tax impact on our community should the board decide to pursue an operating referendum this November. The finance department is evaluating switching our payroll period to semi-monthly from every-other-week. We are discussing with bargaining group leaders and the potential change will take place next fiscal year. This change is consistent with best practices and will improve the district’s cash management and budgeting abilities. We are working on the budgets for next year and will be presenting them to the Finance Committee this month in preparation for board approval in June.
It’s the same story in the transportation department. There is a severe bus driver shortage across the state, and like many industries, we are struggling to hire for open positions. We have been very fortunate that we have not missed any regular school routes, but we have had to get creative for many sports and activity routes. Our high school and middle school athletics department have been very flexible in switching dates and start times to accommodate for transportation. We have also been evaluating a switch from our traditional hub-and-spoke model to a two-tiered transportation model. This would be a significant change for our families and staff. Ultimately, our goal is to choose what’s best for our students within our financial and staffing constraints.
The Transportation department scored highly on their annual MNDOT inspections again this year. This achievement is especially notable this year given the challenges our maintenance department faced this year with driver shortages. Our technicians were frequently called upon to serve as substitute drivers, which added to the challenge of maintaining our buses. I want to thank them for their hard work and the pride they have in keeping our buses maintained and safe for our students and staff.
We would like to congratulate Kathy Jensen (IPS Head Cook) on her retirement and thank her for her years of dedicated service! After labor costs, food costs are our next highest expense. We previously communicated that the State was not going to comply with the USDA waiver to provide free meals to all students. However, they appear to be backing off from this position and may allow the district to serve free meals to all students next year. This will have large budget implications, which we will present to the Finance Committee and School Board over the coming months. This year we issued an RFP (Request For Proposal) for food vendor services and will be presenting our recommendation to the board at this month’s meeting.
Building & Grounds
We are gathering financial estimates for the Cambridge Primary and Intermediate site HVAC/Boiler replacement. We will present this information to the board in June. We are also working on a wastewater treatment project for the middle school site in Cambridge. We are working with Nexus Solutions and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on the project. This has a fall timeframe for when it would be ready to be brought to the board for approval.
Staffing of our buildings for the upcoming school year will be on the agenda for this summer. We will await guidance from MDE along with MDH to help us in our decision-making process of what our cleaning and disinfecting process will look like for the upcoming school year.
by: Aviva Hillenbrand
Adult Basic Education
Our reporting year just ended on April 30. Statewide programs were down on average of 40% in seat hours over last year (this is how our funding is calculated). Our ABE program is down only 29% in seat hours.
Adult & Youth Enrichment
We are in the process of interviewing candidates for the Enrichment Coordinator position. Our summer programs for youth are filling up fast.
Our summer school-age program has an average of over 50 kids a day registered, an increase over last year. Unfortunately, we do not have enough pre-school participants to run the program this summer (same as last summer).
Early Childhood Family Education
We have over half the students enrolled for the coming year 75% of students enrolled as compared to this year’s total enrollment. Most summer ECFE classes are already full.
TEACHING & LEARNING
by: Dr. Brenda Damiani
During the 2020-21 school year, all kindergarten through grade 3 teachers piloted the curriculum resource From Phonics to Reading. This program supports students with early reading and writing skills. Recently, the K-5 English Language Arts Content Team examined feedback from the pilot and recommended adoption of From Phonics to Reading for all K-3 English Language Arts classrooms.
The English Language Arts teachers in grades 6-8 previewed the Newsela curriculum resource. This program offers over 10,000 texts from over 20 different genres. One especially exciting part of this program is that most texts are offered at three different reading levels but look the same at a glance. This could be a great resource for differentiation. Newsela will be piloted in all middle school English Language Arts classes during the 2021-22 school year. The effectiveness of the program will be evaluated in spring 2022.
The K-5 online teachers were presented with two different curriculum resources to pilot for the 2021-22 school year. Next year the teachers in K-5 online will pilot the Edgenuity program. Edgenuity is a standards-aligned digital content curriculum. The effectiveness of the program will be evaluated in spring 2022.
As part of our curriculum review cycle, all of this information will be presented to the Teaching & Learning Advisory Committee on Tuesday, May 18.
STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES
by: Julie Williams
Assistive Technology Teams Project Update
Cambridge-Isanti Schools is in year two of the Assistive Technology (AT) Teams Project in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Education. I participated on this team along with Emily Ramlet (SpEd Coordinator), Amy Hall (Occupational Therapist), Jessica Braaten (Speech Language Pathologist), and Jasmine Egli (Speech Language Pathologist). The C-I team recently presented the year two wrap up information to MDE.
The focus for this year was to pilot forms that can be used during IEP meetings to bring further awareness to the team regarding Assistive Technology and needs to be addressed for each student. Next year we will be able to fully implement the plan with the entire special education department. This will allow the district to address assistive technology needs for each student in a uniformed fashion which will create consistency for students, families and buildings.
I appreciate the hard work and dedication the C-I AT team has put into this project, especially during a pandemic, as it is important to ensure students with disabilities receive an equal opportunity to obtain a high-quality education in the most integrated setting that prepares them to participate in the community, employment and postsecondary education. One of the ways to ensure this is to integrate assistive technology into a student’s individualized plan.
We look forward to participating in the AT Teams Project next year to continue the professional development and networking opportunities that have been provided through the grant.