School Board Update

March 2021

Meeting Overview

Each month the board is presented with non-action and action items for their consideration. A few noteworthy items from this month's meeting are included here.


Items Approved by the Board


The full board agenda can be found here.

Superintendent's Report - Dr. Rudolph

Budget Reductions for FY22

As we have discussed for the past few weeks, the administrative team is working through the budget process in planning for fiscal year 2022. In doing so, it is clear that we will need to once again make reductions. The pandemic has certainly impacted the FY 21 budget in both negative and positive aspects. In the end, we have a balanced revised budget for FY 21 (after cutting $3M). As we roll finances forward and plan for next year, without additional revenue, we will face another $1M of reductions this spring. This is partially due to loss of enrollment over the past year as well as landing in the bottom 7% of districts in the state in terms of general operating revenues. The week prior to spring break, Director Chris Kampa and I visited every school and program throughout the district to present about our current financial situation and plans to go through another round of reductions. We will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to gather input and feedback throughout the process. We are also committed to clear and timely communication, working closely with all bargaining units to follow all agreements accordingly, and observing the Bluejacket Way throughout the process.


Third Trimester Begins with More C-I Students In-Person

We are excited to welcome more students back to in-person learning for the third trimester. Our K-5 students have been utilizing an In-Person Learning Model for just over a month now. Our 6-8 students will return to an In-Person Learning Model for four days per week beginning the week after spring break. Our high school will welcome all ninth grade students back to an In-Person Learning Model for the first time this year. Students in grades 10-12 will continue to utilize the Hybrid Learning Model with the exception of any students who qualify for extra supports. The main challenge at the high school in returning all students in person is the lack of staff and space to adhere to the three-foot spacing requirement from the state. This is due to reductions that have been made over the past two years causing class sizes to be higher than allowed.


Community Task Force

We recently held our third community task force meeting. We are very appreciative of the members of this group who are volunteering to serve our district and help us with current and future challenges that the district is facing. This group has spent the past two meetings learning about the state of our district finances, facilities, teaching and learning department, and operations. At the most recent meeting, the group was divided into four working subgroups and began to work to seek short-term and long-term solutions in each of these areas. The group also was briefed on the budget reduction process that the district will be going through for the third consecutive year. The task force was asked to provide feedback and ideas for current areas to look at for this year’s reductions as well as begin thinking about what potential future reductions (next year) might look like. Again, we are very appreciative of the insight and dedication of this diverse group that represents a wide spectrum of our communities.

Administration Report Highlights

ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES & HUMAN RESOURCES

by: Shawn Kirkeide


Bluejacket Celebration

The date for this year’s annual staff celebration, The Bluejacket Celebration, has been set! Save the date for Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 4:00pm. We are still determining whether we’ll be able to hold the celebration in-person, or if it will need to be virtual, but either way, we are excited to celebrate our years of service milestones, retirees, award winners, and other staff accomplishments.


Wellness

The Wellness Committee is partnering with AdvantageHealth to start a “Stress Less” challenge for all C-I employees in the next few weeks. The challenge engages participants using eight techniques to help reduce stress “on the spot.” We look forward to offering this activity to staff members in the coming weeks; additional information concerning how to sign up will follow via email.


Insurance

Benefits Open Enrollment is right around the corner. We are planning to start the open enrollment process on Monday, April 26 and run it through May 14. We are working with Aflac again this year to assist with the OE process, making it an easy and seamless process for our employees. We heard nothing but positive feedback from this collaboration last year, so we are thankful that Aflac has agreed to assist us again during this open enrollment period.


We are also reviewing our Long Term Disability and Life Insurance providers this year. We recently went out for bids through the Request for Proposal (RFP) process on these services. We have finished reviewing the bids and I am happy to report that we will save around $30,000 per year for the next 3 years by moving from our current provider (Metlife) to Voya. We greatly appreciate our relationship with our 3rd Party Administrator (One Digital), who has been instrumental in helping us to achieve these savings.


FINANCE AND OPERATIONS

by: Christopher Kampa, CFA


Finance

We finalized the revised budget at the last board meeting. We are now preparing the preliminary FY2022 budget and will present preliminary recommendations at the next board meeting. For the 2020 calendar year, we have incurred $556,000 of unemployment expenses. CARES funds from the Federal government will cover approximately $300,000, leaving a remaining balance of $256,000. The State may cover additional unemployment expenses. Because lawmakers are currently in the process of passing the State budget, we will not receive an invoice until the FY2022 fiscal year.


Transportation

Transportation departments across the state are suffering from a severe driver shortage, and we are no different. We are utilizing every sub driver, mechanic, and office staff member to fill our vacancies.


Food Service

Food Service has been ramping up services now that we have students back in school. We are finalizing the RFP for next year’s grocery bid and will present that to the board in the coming months. We have been having structural issues with the freezer at Isanti Middle School. It was purchased in 1976, but some of the internal components have been replaced over-time. We are evaluating bids for a complete replacement and for replacing just the box to keep the mechanical. A total replacement cost could reach $100,000.


Building & Grounds

We are working closely with the Community Task Force to evaluate our facility needs and we are reviewing options to retro-fit and modernize some of our facilities as an alternative to new building construction. This will include finance strategies that seek to reduce the tax-payer impact. We will share details with the board as the plan develops.


COMMUNITY EDUCATION

by: Aviva Hillenbrand


Adult Basic Education

We are running an Educational Paraprofessional prep class in conjunction with our consortium. The class is full with 20 participants.


Adventure Center

Registration for summer and 2021-2020 School Age and Preschool Childcare opened on March 1st. Registrations are coming in more slowly than we hoped. We are implementing an advertising campaign to help increase registration


We were notified that the state is continuing funding for childcare programs for up to three more months, depending upon how much money is left. We will receive $12,000 for March (unbudgeted) and possibly receive additional funds in April and May.


Early Childhood

Registration for summer and 2021-2022 Preschool began on March 1st. To date, we have received over 150 registrations, over half of the total students we have this school year. We are anticipating that we will serve close to the number of children we served pre-COVID-19.


Enrichment

I am excited to say that registrations for our Winter/Spring classes are up by nearly 1,000 over last year at the same time! Be sure to like our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CICommEd/) to see everything we have going on.



TEACHING & LEARNING

by: Dr. Brenda Damiani


Science Curriculum

The MN Science Standards were submitted for Minnesota Rulemaking with the recommendation that school districts fully implement the new standards in their classrooms by the 2023-24 school year. The new standards “describe a connected body of science and engineering knowledge acquired through active participation in science experiences. These experiences include hands-on laboratory activity rooted in science and engineering practices.”


In order to begin the next phase of the 2019 science standards implementation process, teachers at the middle school level will pilot the McGraw Hill Inspire Science curriculum this spring and will meet before the end of the school year to review the findings of the pilot and recommend next steps to Teaching & Learning.


Other Curriculum News

Many teachers implemented a scope and sequence based on newly adopted resources this year or last. This spring and summer those teachers will collaborate with one another and make modifications to the scope and sequence based on 2020-21 implementation of resources. A few of the groups who will be making modifications this year are K-5 music, grades 6-8 art, grades 6-8 health, K-5 English language arts, and 11th grade English language arts. A new course at the high school level will be written in English language arts with a research paper assignment and a focus on the American Dream from different perspectives.


Technology

This time of year is when the ERATE technology services reimbursements need to be submitted. This year we are again utilizing ERATE funds to offset our internet connections for IIS, IMS, CMS, and the Transportation Garage. This equates to a yearly savings of $31,507.20.


Last month the 1,200 Chromebooks ordered in July were delivered and, thanks to Erin Eberhardt and the ECMECC Digital Navigator partnership, we were able to get almost 500 devices enrolled into our Google Admin Console and then get them distributed to the K-2 classrooms. The remaining 700 will be enrolled and ready for distribution either for another round of distance learning (if necessary) or for use next year.


STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

by: Julie Williams


COVID-19 Saliva Testing and Vaccines

As a district, we are following the recommendation from the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Education and holding saliva testing every 2 weeks for staff that are interested in being tested. This is a great proactive approach to reducing the spread of COVID-19. We have adjusted the every 2 week testing dates to accommodate spring break and will hold a testing clinic on March 23 to proactively test those staff interested after coming back from spring break. Then, the 2 week testing begins again on April 1.


We worked with Isanti County Public Health to offer vaccines several weeks in a row to interested staff members. If you see a school nurse, make sure to thank them as they were able to be injectors for the clinics and have continued to do so with Isanti County Public Health as we work through the 2nd dose clinics. If you did not access a clinic when the district was sharing the registration links individually, you are still eligible to receive a vaccine as school staff fall into a priority group that is currently able to receive a vaccine. Please go to the Isanti County Public Health or MDH Vaccine connector website to find a clinic nearby.


Special Education

As a department, we are in the early stages of planning for Extended School Year (ESY). School districts are required to address extended school year (ESY) services according to Minnesota Rule 3525.0755. On an annual basis, the IEP team must discuss and make a determination if the student is entitled to ESY based on one of the following: a significant regression, to maintain self-sufficiency or unique needs of the student. Last year, we had to offer ESY in a distance learning format. This year, we are in the early stages of working through a plan to offer in-person services for students this summer and looking forward to it!