School Board Update

August 2021

School Board Calls for Election on November 2

On August 19, 2021, the School Board voted unanimously to hold an election on November 2 where the ballot will hold two questions regarding a referendum.


After cutting $8.5 million in the last three years, the district remains in the bottom 7% in the state in per-student spending and funding – last in the Mississippi 8 Conference in spending. The district has cut over 100 teachers and staff over the last three years.


During the meeting, the board read a resolution listing the reasons why the district needs to ask the Community to support a referendum. The resolution ended with the following statement,


"WHEREAS, our children are the people who will carry our community forward; they will one day lead our cities, schools, businesses, churches, states, and nation; they are the future of our society, humanity is in their hands, and an educated citizenry is essential to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people."


To learn more about the upcoming referendum, please visit www.c-ischools.org/referendum.

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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

  • Gifts and Donations



The full board agenda can be found here.

Superintendent's Report - Dr. Rudolph

We are very excited about the start of the new school year. Our leadership teams have been hard at work planning for staff and students to begin returning to buildings. As we enter into this new season, we are excited to be back in-person and working closely with students, families, staff, and community members to have an amazing school year.


Our Administrative Team has been working with Isanti Public Health to prepare our 2021-22 Return to Learn Plan regarding COVID-19 Protocols and Mitigation Strategies. Although we are not requiring masks to be worn, we are highly encouraging that all students, families, and staff members consider a layered approach to protecting themselves which includes but is not limited to wearing masks, doubling masks and/or shields, vaccinations (when eligible), practicing good hand hygiene, and distancing when possible. We are also preparing further mitigation measures that could be implemented in the case that transmission rates in schools spread.


Our district leaders are also busy working to implement two-tiered bussing for this fall. This shift allows for much shorter ride times for students, ensures that students are riding with age-appropriate peers, and avoids a 2,000 student transfer twice each day that would increase potential COVID-19 exposures throughout the district.


Finally, we would like to appreciate the community members (over 30) who have engaged with School District Leadership over the past six months to help make recommendations that will drive the future of our School District. Public Schools are owned by the community and we are so proud to have such an amazing community full of dedicated and insightful people! GO BIG BLUE!

Administration Report Highlights

ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES & HUMAN RESOURCES

by: Shawn Kirkeide


New Human Resources Onboarding Specialist and Communication Associate

In the previous Admin Report, it was stated that we hired Jill Puffer as our new Human Resources Onboarding Specialist and Communication Associate. Jill started on July 26 and she is doing a phenomenal job working through all of the processes that go along with this position.


Back to School Workshop and Training

The HR department is diligently planning for upcoming training for the New Teachers, Instructional Assistants, Admin Assistants, Bus Drivers, Substitute Teachers, and Substitute Instructional Assistants.


Every year we also need to have all staff do the OSHA-required training on Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) and Employee Right to Know (ERK). This year, as in the past, we will be providing these trainings online through Schoology. This allows the employee to work through the training at their own pace. We also hope to be offering these mandatory training in person for bus drivers this year. Along with BBP and ERK, we also have all employees review the Employee Handbook, which was developed by the technology department as well as Cybersecurity training. Also, employees starting mid-year, are able to have the training starting out with their employment.


Patrick Marrow and the technology department have been helping us create a more streamlined process of collecting data from Schoology. This will be a more efficient process and we appreciate all of the collaboration with them.


FINANCE AND OPERATIONS

by: Christopher Kampa, CFA


Finance

Enrollment is the biggest question going into the new school year. Last year we lost 250 students to the pandemic, mostly due to parents choosing to homeschool their children. For the current school year, we conservatively projected that 25% of those students would return to school this fall. We are currently up 83 students over our budgeted projections. In a normal year, where we are at in the beginning of August is a good indicator of where we will be at for the year. However, this is not a normal year. Enrollment has picked up significantly over the past two weeks and we have added nearly 150 students. This is an encouraging sign. However, the COVID situation is fluid and increased transmission rates or government mandates could potentially harm enrollment.


Transportation

We have created preliminary routes for the new two-tier system and our drivers bid on those routes last week. We will continue to fine-tune those routes as our drivers perform practice runs. We still have a few open routes that we hope to fill with substitute drivers and new applicants. We had a bus in the Isanti parade and handed out fliers advertising job openings. This resulted in eight new applicants and we are hopeful this will translate to new hires. The driver shortage is still affecting schools across the state and some school districts are contemplating the continuation of distance learning because they cannot provide transportation; so, we are in a much better position than some districts.


Preliminary bus stop times will be sent to families early next week. Hopefully, this will help families plan for the upcoming school year. We will communicate that these times are preliminary and may change as we add enrollment and fine-tune the routes. Final communication will be sent the last week of August.


Food Service

School districts receive compensatory revenue based on the number of students who sign-up and qualify for free or reduced meals. The USDA is providing free meals to all students again this year. This is great for students, but poses a challenge to incentivizing families to apply for meal benefits. We are campaigning through social media, athletics, community education, and other channels to communicate the importance of applying for these benefits.


Building & Grounds

The MPCA issued their findings and administrative penalty order for the excess mineral wastewater discharge at Cambridge Middle School. We are drafting our corrective action response, which is included in the construction project approved by the school board at the July meeting. We have been working closely with the MPCA to develop a response plan that is satisfactory to their requirements.


COMMUNITY EDUCATION

by: Aviva Hillenbrand


Adult Basic Education

On July 29 we held our annual GED graduation ceremony. Four of our ten graduates attended with their loved ones. It was fantastic to see these students at the end of their GED journey. I know bright futures are ahead of them.


GED classes are on a break for the month of August and will resume in September.


Adult & Youth Enrichment

I am excited to welcome Melissa Lupinek back to the Community Education Department. Melissa will be programming our Adult & Youth Enrichment programs. She previously managed Swim Lessons, Camps & Clinics, and Driver Education.


The fall brochure arrived this week. We are offering nearly 250 classes, 36 brand new to our community. Classes can be found online at www.c-ischools.ce.eleyo.com.


Adventure Center

Adventure Center’s preschool childcare program for the school year has more kids registered by this time in the summer than ever before. It looks like we will have a full program at both Isanti and Cambridge this year.


Adventure Center’s school year program’s registration numbers are also strong. In particular, our morning program at Isanti has grown significantly.


Early Childhood

Gearing up for Kindergarten started on Monday, August 3 with two classes (37 students) in Cambridge and one class (21 students) in Isanti. One of the Cambridge classes is a collaboration with Head Start. This partnership includes shared staff, supplies, and space. The remaining costs are covered by a grant from MDE. The partnership with Head Start will continue into the school year with 10 students and 1 teacher from Head Start in Cambridge.


This summer’s ECFE programming was a tremendous success. We had 50-60 kids with about 30 adults attend each of our ECFE in the Park programs held at City Park in Cambridge and Bluebird Park in Isanti.


TEACHING & LEARNING

by: Dr. Brenda Damiani


The Department of Teaching and learning is working closely with principals and academic coaches to plan for the start of the 2021-22 school year. We are looking forward to welcoming staff and students to in-person learning as well as to CI Online.


Technology

During the month of July and early August, the technology team has worked diligently on enrolling, labeling, and delivering about 2,000 Chromebooks to the buildings. These Chromebooks have been purchased utilizing Gears Funds and Emergency Connectivity Funds and are not impacting the general fund or capital fund in any way. We are excited to be able to provide 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students with new Chromebooks that they will continue to use until they graduate. In addition, students in grades K-2 will also be receiving about 200 Chromebooks per building as a replacement to the original 2015 Blended Learning purchase of iPads for the K2 level. The Chromebooks at the K-2 level can be used as a Chromebook or as an Android tablet and run apps that are found in the Google Play Store.


STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

by: Julie Williams


Special Education

We finished the 2021 Summer Extended School Year session on July 29 and had a wonderful session! We even mixed fun and learning together with activities throughout the session. Our students were able to participate in ECFE at the park, water activities, a petting zoo and even had our own first annual ESY talent show! It was wonderful to see students cheering for and encouraging each other.