Austin Packer Bulletin - 0107
Volume 1, Issue 7
You'll Shape The Future of Our Schools on November 8
As you may have seen in recent Austin Packer Bulletins, it's an exciting time of year at Austin Public Schools.
In addition to our fall activities, we are looking ahead to the district's operating levy referendum on the November 8 ballot. If approved, the district's existing levy would be increased by $470 per pupil, or $2.4 million a year, to help stabilize the district's finances.
Like many school districts across the state, Austin Public Schools is struggling to manage the rising cost of education as state funding continues to lag the rate of inflation. Without additional revenue, our district will face an estimated budget deficit of $3 million for the next school year (2023-24). To balance the budget, the district would likely need to make cuts to staff and educational programming that would impact learning.
If the levy is approved, the owner of a home with a market value of $170,000 would see a property tax increase of $12 per month. We recognize this is a significant community investment. With early voting already underway, I wanted to take this opportunity to address a few of the most common questions that I have received from residents.
Why is the school board asking for a levy increase now as inflation continues to rise?
Inflation affects schools, too. In fact, over the past decade, per-pupil reimbursement from the State of Minnesota has not kept up with rising costs, forcing schools across the state to do more with less. Many districts across the state have turned to voter-approved operating levy increases to combat the lack of adequate funding. Levy increases allow communities to take matters into their own hands and provide schools with the support they need to maintain their operations.
How will this investment plan help our students perform better in the classroom?
We can't cut our way to success. Austin Public Schools offers a range of enhanced learning options for all our K-12 students, including college-level courses and vocational programs. We also offer a variety of extracurricular activities and athletics. This plan will help the district avoid significant budget cuts and maintain these important student programs and services.
What is the difference between an operating levy and a bond referendum?
It's helpful to remember that levies are for learning, and bonds are for building. Austin Public Schools is asking for an operating levy to help with day-to-day expenses like salaries for instructional staff, student programs, educational supplies, and utilities. On the other hand, a bond referendum supports large-scale facility initiatives like renovating or repairing school buildings. Legally, the district is required to keep operating funds separate from capital funds and cannot transfer money from one fund to the other.
Would this operating levy be permanent?
The proposed operating levy would be in place for ten years. After that, district voters would need to reauthorize the levy for it to continue.
How would local businesses be affected by an operating levy increase?
Businesses would be impacted the same as homeowners for the operating levy. For farmers, agricultural land is exempt beyond the homestead (house, garage, and one acre). Seasonal recreational property is also exempt from this levy.
I don't have kids in school. Why should I care about this?
Local schools are an important community asset that helps attract new families and businesses to our community while supporting businesses in need of skilled workers.
I encourage all residents to visit the referendum website, AccelerateAustin.org, to learn more about the school district's financial challenges and our plan to address them. I'm always happy to answer your questions, so feel free to contact me at (507) 460-1900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As I noted, early voting has already started. If you requested an absentee ballot, make sure to return it to your county courthouse by 3 pm on November 8. Or you can vote in person at the polls on Election Day. Make your voice heard on this important community decision.
Dr. Joey Page, Superintendent
Your vote matters! You can vote early on the referendum in-person or via absentee ballot, or vote on Election Day. Learn more about how you can make your voice heard at AccelerateAustin.org/vote.
School Board Information
As your elected representatives, School Board members welcome questions and conversations related to governing the District. Board members actively participate in many areas throughout the community, attending advisory council meetings, serving on committees, and attending school and community meetings and events. Board members welcome invitations to your events and will make an effort to attend.
Communicating with the School Board
There are formal and informal opportunities to communicate with the School Board as a whole and with individual Board members.
- Email: If you wish to communicate with the entire Board and submit questions, comments, suggestions, concerns, or compliments, please email: SchoolBoardTeam@austin.k12.mn.us. All Board members and the superintendent will receive your correspondence; the Board Chair or Superintendent will respond to emails on behalf of the Board. Email addresses are published on the School Board home page if you wish to contact individual Board members.
- Telephone: For more complex or emotional topics, a phone call or face-to-face meeting may be most effective. Board member phone numbers are published on the School Board webpage.
- Public Meetings: The Board meets at least monthly to conduct business and provide opportunities for public input. You can also make comments to the School Board at Regular Meetings.
Who To Contact
The School Board delegates the administration and management of the District to the superintendent. Austin Public Schools strives to address your questions and concerns quickly and effectively. Therefore, we have developed communication protocols to promote direct, open, and respectful interactions to efficiently work through problems and concerns.
A reminder, the first level of communication does not resolve the issue. The immediate supervisor, principal, or superintendent should be the next contact.
Learn more about your school board here.
The Hormel Foundation Austin Assurance Scholarship
Since 2019, The Hormel Foundation Austin Assurance Scholarship (THFAAS) has been awarded to over 545 Austin students attending Riverland Community College. THFAAS pays for students to earn a degree at Riverland for free. This scholarship covers tuition (up to 65 credits), fees, and includes a $2,000 stipend for required books and course materials. The scholarship amount varies for each student, but it covers 100% of tuition and fees* not fulfilled by federal and state grants. THFAAS is available for up to 5 years after high school graduation.
Students graduating from Austin Public Schools or Pacelli High School and who live within the Austin Public School enrollment district may be eligible for the scholarship by meeting the requirements below:
- Complete 50 volunteer hours within the community during high school.
- Meet at least ONE of the following academic criteria:
- Earn a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or higher
- Pass all courses with a GPA of 2.0 or higher in their Junior and Senior year of high school
- ACT composite score of 18 or higher
- ASVAB score of 31 or higher
- Successfully complete Riverland's Be Your Best college prep summer academy
- Enroll in an approved program of study at Riverland Community College and remain in good academic standing.
- Students must complete the FAFSA or Dream Act application to receive THFAAS. The application can be completed as early as October 1 of the student's senior year.
For more details and information please visit our website at www.austinassurance.org.
REACH, a collaboration between Austin High School and the Hormel Foundation, provides support to students in the academic and socioemotional world. The elective course is a blocked class that serves 90 students in grades 9-12 and consists of four staff, each with their own specialty and strength. At REACH, we are building a culture with the values of Relationships, Education, Accountability, Character and Hard Work (REACH).
REACH believes in meeting students where they are at and providing support to the whole child to foster success. Most students arrive to the program behind in credits with low GPAs, disengaged from school, lacking study habits, and/or in need of mental health support. REACH believes in volunteering in the community and has partnerships with Sumner Elementary School as well as many other community businesses and service agencies.
Last year, we had excellent results. All 12 of our seniors graduated on time with the rest of their peers. First semester our program passed 89 percent of all courses attempted and second semester we passed 93 percent of all courses attempted.
Check out these two informational videos:
What is Adult Basic Education?
Austin's Adult Learning program serves any community member 17 or older working towards a high school credential, learning English, improving basic skills such as literacy and math, digital literacy, and/or preparing for post-secondary education or employment. Learn more here.
And… They currently have over 50 adults eager to learn English at night! They need 3 teachers for these classes!
When: Tuesdays & Thursdays 5:00-7:30 pm (Prep time 4:10-5:00) Following the APS calendar
Where: Riverland Community College, East Building
What you need: K-12 teaching license, a love of teaching (and laughing!!)
More Info Contact: Kristy Rooney email@example.com
Leadership in Action
Launching our new strategic plan is a community-wide effort. Today, APS alum and previous Executive Director of the Parenting Resource Center, Gema Alvarado-Guerrero, shared her inspiring story and educational experiences with our leadership team.
COVID-19 Procedure Reminder & Update
If you need to report a positive student case, please continue to contact their school's nurse.
If you need to report a positive employee case, please email the COVID-19 Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helpful information to include in the email:
- date symptoms started (if applicable)
- test date
- dates absent from work prior to testing positive (if any, relevant to current illness)
Distinguished Service Awards From Region 1AA
On October 13, Region 1AA held its annual meeting and awards luncheon at the Hubbell House in Mantorville, MN. The event recognizes and honors State Championship Coaches and Distinguished Service Awards from Region 1AA. Austin Packer Dance Team Coach, Kayla Sellers, was honored at the luncheon for the team's 2022 High Kick State Dance Championship this past February. Former Austin High School Activities Director, Lisa Quednow, was recognized by Region 1AA as a Retiring AD. Kayla and Lisa were presented their awards by AHS's current Activities Director, Katie Carter.
Congratulations to the Boys Soccer team for taking home the Section 1AA championship and earning a state berth with a win over Winona on Tuesday night!
Join us for a concert featuring the Austinaires/UW-Eau Claire Singing Statesmen at Knowlton Auditorium on October 29!
Infinite Campus Update
In this week's Alumni Spotlight, we catch up with alumnus Xin Zhuo.
Are you an alumnus of Austin Public Schools? If so, we'd love to hear from you!
We're excited to hear about your accomplishments and are eager to share your successes and advice with our current students, families, and the Austin community. Please take a few minutes to complete the quick questionnaire at https://www.austin.k12.mn.us/district-resources/alumni-spotlight regarding your current position and your career trajectory.
Thanks, and we look forward to hearing all your wonderful stories!
At Austin Public Schools, our mission is to inspire, empower, and accelerate every one of our learners, and we know that the only way for us to reach this goal is through the efforts of all our incredibly hard-working staff.
In this week’s Staff Spotlight, we’re highlighting Packer Pantry coordinator Melinda Huntley.
"As the primary driving force behind the day to day operations of the Packer Pantry program, Melinda goes above and beyond for our students in need. Her efforts in our community to collect and organize donations have helped countless students in need."
If you’d like to nominate an outstanding Austin Public Schools staff member for our weekly Staff Spotlight, please take a moment to fill out the form at https://www.austin.k12.mn.us/district-resources/staff-spotlight. It only takes a minute and can truly make someone’s day. Thanks!
Superintendent Coffee and Conversation
Please consider joining Superintendent Page at the Coffee House on Main, 329 Main Street North, for Coffee and Conversation!
October 25 - 7:00 – 7:45 AM
November 2 - 11:00 – 11:30 AM
November 7 - 7:00 – 7:45 AM
November 29 - 7:00 – 7:45 AM
December 7 - 10:00 – 10:45 AM
January 5 - 7:00 – 7:45 AM
*Dates are subject to change
Or you can contact me at email@example.com or call 507-460-1900 to schedule an appointment.
Tue, Oct 25, 2022, 07:00 AM
329 Main Street North, Austin, MN, USA
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