School Board Update

April 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 or you can watch a recording of the meeting.

Superintendent's Report - Dr. Rudolph

As an administrative team, we continue to work on planning for the 2021-22 school year. We are currently working on short-term solutions to our budget challenges which primarily focus on further reductions of expenses. After $7.5M worth of reductions in the past two years, this process continues to be challenging as we look for an additional $1M worth of savings for FY22.


We are also working closely with our Community Task Force which is considering and developing future recommendations to bring to the School Board regarding longer-term planning efforts. These include plans for budgets and financial health, building and grounds, district operations, and teaching and learning. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and knowledgeable group of citizens, parents, staff members, and community leaders helping us to plan for the future of Cambridge-Isanti Schools!


COVID-19 has continued to impact school districts throughout the state with recent increased transmission rates. We are happy to report that although the increase of cases has resulted in more quarantines for students and families, that we have been able for the most part to keep our students in-person for learning. We will continue to work closely with public health and MDH to keep mitigation efforts in place and appreciate family partnerships and support as we work through the spring. It remains our goal to keep as many students in-person for learning as safely possible.


With students in schools, spring activities in full force, and end-of-year planning taking shape, we have so much to celebrate and to be thankful for! Our Bluejackets continue to excel in so many ways and our students continue to inspire us with their resiliency and character. GO BIG BLUE!

Administration Report Highlights

ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES & HUMAN RESOURCES

by: Shawn Kirkeide


As of April 5, 149 staff members have joined the Wellness Committee sponsored Stress Less Challenge! We are so excited to see such a great response to this free program. Participants will spend 21 days learning about various techniques that lower stress levels, and implementing them in their daily lives. In early May we’ll be launching our next wellness initiative, a Wellness Bingo Challenge. We’re hopeful that this challenge will prove just as popular with staff members.


Our annual Insurance Open Enrollment period is also just around the corner. Starting April 26, staff will be able to make changes to their benefit elections in the PlanSource portal through May 14. We’ve partnered with OneDigital and Aflac representatives again this year to offer personal coaches to employees who will walk them through the Open Enrollment process in a personalized phone call. There will also be a video tutorial for staff to reference if they prefer. These representatives will be able to explain all of the available benefit options and answer any questions employees may have during the process.


The deadline for submitting nominations for the annual Bluejacket Celebration awards is Wednesday, April 21. We are excited to announce the winners of these annual awards at the virtual Bluejacket Celebration on Thursday, May 27 at 4:00pm. We’ll also be celebrating our retirees and Years of Service award winners during this celebration, as is customary. It’s going to be a fantastic event!


FINANCE AND OPERATIONS

by: Christopher Kampa, CFA


Finance

We are finalizing the budget reductions for FY2022. These will be presented at the board meeting on April 22. We will then bring preliminary budgets for the school district funds to the June board meeting, as required by statute.


Transportation

We have been experiencing an increase in behavioral problems on the buses. We have been struggling to fill some routes with a permanent driver, which is also contributing to the behavioral challenges. We have increased adult supervision where we can and we are trying to bring in more drivers to decrease our reliance on substitute drivers. However, that is challenging given the driver shortage that is affecting school districts across the state.


Food Service

Earlier this year the USDA extended its summer nutrition program, which would have allowed the district to provide free meals to students through September 2021. We were planning to establish a summer meal service that would have provided free meals for our students, which would have also complimented our summer academic programming. However, this week MDE announced that they will not grant the eligibility extension for Minnesota school districts. Therefore, we will not be able to provide free meals during the summer or next school year. MDE cited current economic data indicating that “the state has nearly recovered from hardship due to COVID-19.”


Building & Grounds

We continue to evaluate our facility needs. We have entered into a Partnership Development Agreement with Nexus Solutions to develop a plan to modernize and retro-fit some of our biggest facility needs. We will bring the findings to the board this summer and put together a potential timeline if we decide to move forward.


COMMUNITY EDUCATION

by: Aviva Hillenbrand


We are sad to see Joell Tvedt and Caroline Nerhus leave the district and wish them well in their endeavors. In the meantime, we are in the midst of the hiring process for their positions.


A review of our pricing for facility use and driver education was done comparing our district’s rates to surrounding districts/competitors. After input from the Community Education Advisory Council and the Finance Committee, the following recommendations have been made: 1) Raise facility rates in areas we are below average and add flat rate COVID cleaning fee for each rental 2) Raise the Driver Education price slightly more than proposed to get closer to the average rate of our competition.


We are all busy preparing for summer. Look for our summer brochure early next month. If you can’t wait until then, classes are available online now.


TEACHING & LEARNING

by: Dr. Brenda Damiani


Kindergarten Round Up

Kindergarten Roundup will be virtual this year. Families will have the opportunity to meet the principal and teachers, to learn about the Kindergartner’s day, and to explore fun activities to do over the summer! This year’s Kindergarten Roundup will look different than past years, with more convenient online registration (less paperwork), virtual information sessions, and more personalized opportunities for families to visit our schools.


  • Isanti Primary School – Tuesday, April 27 at 5:30 p.m. (please note the date change)

  • Cambridge Primary School – Tuesday, April 27 at 5:30 p.m.

  • School For All Seasons – Thursday, April 29 at 5:30 p.m.


Cambridge-Isanti Schools Online

The Cambridge-Isanti Schools Online Planning Committee is meeting weekly to plan for K-12 Online Programming for the 2021-22 school year. The first Family Information meeting was held on April 12. Current C-I families can choose the online program option by visiting the website and completing an easy form. Families who are new to C-I Schools will complete the new family registration process and select C-I Schools Online as their school option. We are looking forward to providing a flexible and engaging online program for students and making adjustments based on the family feedback we have gathered during our Distance Learning option.


School For All Seasons

We are continuing to work with families and staff to find creative ways to maintain a school of choice in our school district. While the year-round calendar is no longer feasible, we believe that we can maintain a STEAM focus and balance class size while moving to the traditional calendar.


Data and Assessment

We are beginning spring MCA testing in the school buildings next week with the high school and Riverside Academy. The intermediate and middle school buildings will test the first few weeks in May. The deadline for all MCA testings was extended to May 21. We are also testing the online students on three separate Fridays April 30 (reading), May 7 (math), and May 14 (science) at Isanti Middle School. MDE determined that all testing needs to be administered in-person. We sent a form to all online families asking if they would like to come in to test, but could opt out due to COVID/health concerns. Currently, we have had 41% of our responses indicate “yes”, they would like to come in to test.


STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

by: Julie Williams


COVID-19 Information

As we move into the spring, just a reminder for staff, families, and community members that we still should be diligent about following COVID-19 protocols and mitigation strategies. Our COVID-19 numbers within our community, like many communities, have seen an increase. Cambridge-Isanti Schools has worked very hard to ensure our students and staff stay as healthy and safe as possible this year. As families, please make sure you are doing your part to slow or prevent the spread of COVID-19. If your student has any of the symptoms listed in the decision tree, please keep them home until they are feeling better.


The Minnesota Department of Health has additional information for families around COVID-19 and attendance at school here.


If you or your student is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, use this guide from the Minnesota Department of Health to make a decision on what you should do next.


There are often questions related to contact tracing and when we share that information. If you or your child are considered a close contact, you will be notified by the district. Due to confidentiality and HIPPA regulations, we do not share this information with anyone or can share who was identified or why someone was not identified in a specific situation. Here is some information related to the process and terms that are used:


What is a close contact?

  • Close contact means being within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes.

  • Casual contact, such as passing someone in the hallway, is low risk for spreading COVID-19 and not considered close contact.


How do I know if my child was a close contact of someone with COVID-19 at school, child care, or another program?


Your child’s school, child care, or program tells you if your child is a close contact of someone who has COVID-19. MDH works with local public health and your school and/or school district, child care, or program to learn who has COVID-19 and who the close contacts of the positive person are. Then, the close contacts are notified and need to quarantine.

What do isolation and quarantine mean?

These words are used by people in public health to describe what someone should do when they stay home because they have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it. Isolation and quarantine are public health actions that help stop the spread of germs and keep people safe.


  • Isolation is when someone tests positive for COVID-19, and they need to stay away from others, even in their home. Isolation lasts for 10 days beginning with the first symptom or 10 days from the test date for people who do not have symptoms.

  • Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others. The person will watch for symptoms for 10 days from the last contact with the infected person. If the contact is from a household member, quarantine will last 14 days from the last contact with the household member (or start at the end of the household member’s isolation period). Quarantine is also required when you are waiting for your test results.