From the Office of the Superintendent 4/16/20

Weekly Briefing for ISD 709 Faculty & Staff

Dear Colleagues,

I often find inspiration in quotes from the past:

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of the generation.”

-Robert Kennedy

None of us imagined spring would look like this. We never pictured having to change how we conduct meetings, teach a class, provide curriculum, feed children, clean our buildings, move forward with the business of our district. Or that we’d be required to create and implement such significant changes in a matter of days.

Certainly the first news regarding COVID-19 and school closure was a shock. And then, as always, the people who work in our school district stepped up to the plate. In every department, across every bargaining unit, people are working together and getting done what needs to be done for the good of our students, families and staff.

In that regard, we “work to change a small portion of events.” And together, with the citizens of Duluth, Minnesota and our country, we help write the history of our generation.

Thank you for doing your part to respond to COVID-19.

Kind regards,


If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email: Superintendents@ISD709.org. Twitter: @billgronseth

Duluth School Board Meets Remotely

Due to the declared health pandemic, shelter in place order, and the declared state of emergency in the City of Duluth, and pursuant to Minnesota Statute 13D.021, April Duluth School Board meetings will be held by teleconference or other electronic means.

Public comment for the regular school board meeting on April 21, 2020 may be submitted to schoolboard@isd709.org, no later than Monday, April 20th by 4:00 PM, and they will be read aloud into the record. The public is encouraged to watch Board meetings online at www.isd709.org/district/school-board and live on cable channel 187.

Board agendas and detailed information for upcoming meetings are on Board Book.

FY 21 Budget Planning Update

While it may seem as though everything we do right now is focused on the pandemic, many of our regular systems and planning processes continue as usual.

One of the most important is budget planning for the next school year. It’s work that requires months of conversation with school administrators, department heads, teacher representatives and other leadership.

The process begins with draft projections for revenue and expense and these numbers are fluid. They change over time as new information becomes available and planning among our schools and departments deepens. School districts are required to approve an adopted budget by June 30, we expect to provide public updates to the Board and community prior to adopting the FY 21 budget.

The Board received a FY 21 budget planning update during the April HR/Finance Committee meeting. It’s archived on YouTube and here’s a link to the handout used.

Employees are encouraged to review the information and watch the meeting. It’s important to be aware of the information we’re sharing publicly and how discussions are moving forward. And there’s detail that may not be included in news reports or through word of mouth.

ISD 709 Employee COVID-19 Information

Staff in Human Resources are compiling information for Duluth Public Schools employees and posting it online. Information currently includes:

  • Duluth Public Schools Coronavirus Response Guide
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
  • PEIP Information Related to COVID-19 Coverage
View the Page

Cloth Face Coverings Arriving Each Day, Many Thanks

Many thanks for the community response to our request for cloth face coverings for essential employees. Coverings are coming in each day to our district office and to our schools. They're being used by people making and delivering free breakfast and lunch, working in emergency childcare, sanitizing buildings and working on curriculum packet distribution.

There's still a need. If you or your organization are making cloth face coverings, please consider donating them toward the work of our essential Duluth Public School employees. If you’re able to help, email covidquestions@isd709.org or call 218-336-8740. Items can be dropped off at the Third Street entrance of Historic Old Central HS, 215 N. 1st Ave East.

CDC Cloth Face Covering Info - includes sew and no-sew instructions.
Note, CDC guidance specifically says the cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Prevention Tips: Protecting Ourselves, Our Families, Our Community


  • Wash hands frequently & thoroughly

  • Cough/sneeze into your elbow/sleeve

  • Don’t touch your face/eyes/mouth/nose.

  • Wear a cloth face covering in public places

  • Stay home and avoid gatherings with people outside of your household

  • Keep 6 feet of space between yourself and others when you do go out (social distancing)

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

  • Stay home if you feel sick (fever >100, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat)

Pay Attention To Your Mental Health and Reduce Stress By:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise.

  • Creating a regular routine.

  • Connecting with family and friends through calls, texts, or video chats.

  • Getting information from reliable sources.

  • Reaching out if you need to talk to someone. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, help is available:

    • Call the warm line at 651-288-0400 or text “Support” to 85511 or call 1-877-404-3190
    • Call the crisis team at **CRISIS (**274747) or click here for the county numbers. Crisis Text Line is available 24/7 by texting MN to 74174
    • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    • Call the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990

ISD 709 News

We know there are a lot of great things going on in our schools (in building or distance learning) - let's make sure we're letting everyone else know, too! Share your school, student, staff accomplishments, projects and events with Kathleen.Kaufman@ISD709.org, they'll be used in email newsletters, social media, websites and other communication venues.

Administrative Assistants, Clerical Staff, Paraprofessionals Support COVID Response

We're so appreciative of the people working on the complex task of compiling thousands of distance learning packets for delivery to students each week. Mikilia Carroll, Sherri Gimple, Olivia Kinsley, Joan Lancour, Lauren Lischke, Bonnie Lundberg, Judy Ronningen and Stephanie Williams are among those supporting the project. They represent the skilled, dedicated people serving as administrative assistants, clerical staff and paraprofessionals in our school district. Many thanks for their help and expertise.

ISD 709 Distance Learning

#Inspire709 #Heroes

ISD 709 Paraprofessionals Support COVID Response

Paraprofessional Roger Lofald, helping with free breakfast and lunch distribution outside Denfeld High School. Meals available weekdays for students 18 years of age and younger.

Details, locations, times.

People working as paraprofessionals for Duluth Public Schools are helping make sure children receive nutritious meals, distance learning curriculum packets and are playing an important role in providing emergency childcare for critical workers. Many thanks!

#Inspire709 #RockStars

Stowe GND Rec Helps Provide Food for Students

During spring recess, people at Stowe GND Rec worked to provide 1248 grab and go meals for youth and adults in need.

The YMCA (led by Leslie Bucar, in charge of youth activities at the REC and Key Zone) coordinated getting bags put together with support from the GND Development Alliance, Whole Foods and ZMC hotels. Nathan Glockle, Principal, and other members of the Stowe staff helped with distribution of the bags. Many thanks for all who provided support.

Thank you, Brenda Van Dell, for the photo and information.

Creative Lincoln Park Staff

A message to students from the folks at Lincoln Park Middle School - love this!

Teachers, staff, principals across our schools are finding creative ways to engage with students and families online.

Thank you, Nicole Steinsberger, for the photo.

KEY Zone Registration Open for Summer & 20-21 School Year

Learn more about KEY Zone

Summer Program:

  • Open to students in the Duluth Area who have completed Kindergarten thru 5th grade.
  • Sites: Lester Park, Lowell, Laura MacArthur, and Ordean East Middle School
  • Activities include group games, gym time, service learning, field trips, arts and crafts, outdoor activities, and choice time.

20-21 School Year Program:

  • Open to students attending a Duluth Public Elementary school during the day.
  • Sites: Congdon Park, Homecroft, Lakewood, Laura MacArthur, Lester Park, Lowell, Myers-Wilkins, Piedmont, Stowe
  • A typical day includes physical recreation, brain time activities/homework help, clubs and choice time.

Space is limited so please register early!
Email: mark.connor@isd709.org or call 218-336-8900 x 2

Duluth East Students Compete at Virtual State History Day

The state's History Day competition is hosted virtually with support from the Minnesota Historical Society and the University of Minnesota.


Paper: Natalie Miller & Erin Coleman

Group Exhibit: Olivia Holsinger & Crystal Kaczmarczyk

Inv. Documentary: Audrey Linn Sr.

Inv. Exhibit: Martha Carlson Sr. Group

Documetary: Kobi Jones & Izzy Laderman

Thank you, Catherine Nachbar, for the photo and information.



Congdon Park Students Receive Art Achievement Honors

The following Congdon Park Elementary students won first place in the National PTA Reflections Art Program at their school and went on to compete at the state level. Here are the results of the state competition. Those earning 1st place awards will move on to Nationals.


K-2: 1st place, Andrew Froehle

3-5: 1st place, Juri Lubovich


3-5: 1st place, Yupeng Chen

Visual Arts:

K-2: 2nd place, Sasha Lubovich



Thanks to Maglina Lubovich for the information.

Lowell Spring Break Cleanup Challenge

Ziigwan Biinichigedaa Challenge!

Created by Laura Winter and Lowell's Misaabekong Strand, this event challenged families to clean up as many "Walmart size plastic bags" as possible and share their photos.

And of course, "don't forget to giiziibiiginingiins (wash your hands)" and practice social distancing!



Lester Park Dress Backwards Day

Students were asked to put together their best backwards outfit and share a photo. Staff said, "We can’t wait to see all of your creative outfits and most importantly, your smiling faces!! We miss our students and parents so much!" Principal Sue Lehna put on her best backwards outfit, too.



Duluth East Red and Grey Day

Students, staff and families from Duluth East High School celebrated the distance learning roll out by sharing their school colors in a photo.

#Inspire709 #SchoolSpirit #GoHounds


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