School Board Update

June 2021

School Board Showcase

This month's School Board Showcase was presented by the Athletic and Activities Department and highlighted our Adaptive Bowling Team and the successes they had this year.


Congratulations to State Award winner Hunter Carpenter, State Champion Bryce Tinnel and the Cambridge-Isanti Adapted Bowling Team!

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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


The full board agenda can be found here.

Superintendent's Report - Dr. Rudolph

The last month of school and the first month of summer are exciting times in schools. As we bring one year to a close and continue to prepare for the next we find ourselves celebrating so many wonderful accomplishments. Many recognition events and awards ceremonies are held with the culmination of high school graduation!


After a year of inconsistencies, pivoting, and change, it was beyond exciting to bring our CIHS graduation back to tradition. What a special day for these special kids. After missing out on so many events in their Junior and Senior years, being able to come together in a single space to honor, reflect, and celebrate was amazing. Thank you to all who were involved to make this year’s graduation a tremendous event. Students, families, and community members were greeted by a Cambridge fire truck and an Isanti fire truck parked together to hold a C-I banner to honor our seniors. What a symbol of the collaboration, love, and community spirit that we have here! GO BIG BLUE!

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This past week our district was also recognized by the Minnesota Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) State Leadership Team as one of seven school districts throughout the state to be awarded the 2021 Sustaining Exemplar PBIS District. And this is the second year in a row our district has earned this distinct honor! Cambridge Primary School and Isanti Intermediate/School For All Seasons were also recognized by MDE as 2021 Sustaining Exemplar PBIS School! Thank you to our District PBIS Team and our School PBIS Teams for their hard work and continued commitment to Every Student, Every Day.


Community Task Force Work

In January 2021, the Cambridge-Isanti School District assembled a Community Task Force of 38 individuals, representing parents, students, staff, teachers, and administrators. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Task Force met virtually every month to identify, understand and problem-solve significant challenges facing the school district.

The Community Task Force reviewed district organizational background data, including financial reports, enrollment data, curricular offerings and reductions, transportation, facilities and staffing data. Four critical focus areas were identified; Finance, Building and Grounds, Operations, and Teaching and Learning. Subgroups were then formed to take deeper dives into each of these areas.


The Task Force recognizes that the School District is facing significant challenges around lack of operating revenue, building infrastructure needs (older buildings and end of life infrastructures), transportation challenges and curricular/staffing deficits due to $8.5M of budget reductions in three years. As we look to the future of Cambridge-Isanti Schools, the Community Task Force recommendations to consider will be focused on solving these immediate challenges and looking forward to a sustainable future. Their recent work has been delayed due to the Legislative Special Session. At the time of the school board meeting, an education bill had been proposed which would provide schools a 2.45% increase in year one followed by a 2% increase in year two. Unfortunately, state educational funding has not kept up with basic inflation for many years. For our school district, this proposed budget to fund education over the next biennium represents less than 50% of our yearly structural deficit. C-I Schools continues to be the lowest funded school district and lowest spending district in the Mississippi 8 Conference.


We are grateful for any additional funding that we receive, but the proposed legislation will not fix the District's financial challenges. The Task Force is expected to make final recommendations to the school board by August.

Administration Report Highlights

ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES & HUMAN RESOURCES

by: Shawn Kirkeide


Our staff and students have officially moved into summer vacation mode, but the HR department couldn’t be more excited about the coming school year! While 2020-21 was a success over all, we look forward to a more traditional school year starting in the fall. The HR department has started the onboarding process for our fall 2021 new hires, and we are thrilled with the new Bluejackets that will be joining our family soon!


As we move into early summer, we’re working on the finalization of the Special Education Instructional Assistant staffing for fall. Enrollment, student movement, and building needs all influence staffing. We’ve been working with union reps along the way to determine the processes and timelines for any possible movements, which will be communicated with staff as soon as possible.


One of our summer projects involves revamping the employee evaluation process to be more standardized across employee groups. We have been working with district administration on this project and hope to have it completed for rollout in the fall.


Summer also means planning for employee training in the fall. We are lucky to have Jens Erickson from IEA helping us with the custodial training, which is in early July. This employee group is always our first training of the year, and Jens helps us make mandatory training such as bloodborne pathogens and employee right to know much more exciting. We’re so lucky to have an expert like Jens on our team!


FINANCE AND OPERATIONS

by: Christopher Kampa, CFA


Finance

The audit process for the FY2021 fiscal year has begun and the auditors will be onsite the week of the 21st. We will be presenting a balanced budget for FY2022 at this month’s board meeting.


This will be a busy fall as we plan for an operating referendum and a building repair project. We will be presenting a letter of intent to move forward with Nexus on finalizing plans to repair and replace the heating and cooling system at CPIS, bring CMS into compliance with MPCA requirements, and upgrade the HVAC system at the high school. The boiler system is a critical infrastructure project at CPIS and may fail at any time, which would displace over 1,000 of our students. The boiler system replacement is part of a larger plan to refurbish and modernize CPIS, which is a fiscally conservative alternative to building a new school building. We are structuring financial packages to minimize the taxpayer impact. I fully expect the final financing to mirror our community’s financial values and should resonate with many community members.


Transportation

We are moving forward on the transition to a two-tier model for elementary and secondary students. We are routing the students in the system and will communicate route assignments to families in late August. We are also planning for summer programming for summer school and Extended School Year.


Food Service

We would like to say a very special thank you to Head Cook Kathy Jensen for all her years of hard work and wish her all the best in retirement. We are happy to welcome Katie Olness as our newest Head Cook and wish her good luck as she starts at the high school next year.


Over the summer we will be replacing the walk-in cooler and freezer at IMS. The unit is 40-years old and we’ve been struggling to keep it operational over the past year. The bids did come in under budget and hopefully, the next unit will last another 4 decades.


Building & Grounds

The district, along with Nexus solutions, has partnered in developing district-wide infrastructure improvements, replacing aging equipment at minimal to no tax impact to our community. The projects include a steam-to-hot-water conversion and the Cambridge Primary and Intermediate schools and the High School. Cambridge Middle School will see improvements to both the wastewater and water of its facility. The Building Automation/Controls will be upgraded throughout the district as well. These improvements will also provide the district energy savings on a yearly basis. A walk-in cooler and freezer replaced at IMS as well.


The crews in our buildings and grounds are into our summer mode. We are preparing our sites, deep cleaning, waxing, and getting ready for our upcoming school year. We will have the annual custodian workshop day on July 8 where the employees will go through all of their health and safety yearly training and lift certifications.


Our Buildings and Grounds Department has experienced a year like none other, COVID-19 changed the way we cleaned, disinfected, and scheduled our buildings. The crews did an outstanding job and buildings were always ready for each and every day for our staff, kids, and community.


COMMUNITY EDUCATION

by: Aviva Hillenbrand


Adult Basic Education

We had seven people attend the new student orientation in May and have had several calls a week regarding GED and/or Adult Diploma. We are slowly, but surely, rebuilding from COVID-19.


Adult & Youth Enrichment

On June 7, we welcomed Steph Bloxham to our team as the new Adult & Youth Enrichment Coordinator. She has hit the ground running and is already a strong asset to the Community Ed department.


Registrations for our summer classes are going very well. We have 3,936 enrollments for summer to date as compared to 1,324 total registrations for all of last summer. That’s almost three times the registrations compared to last summer and an increase of over 500 registrations from the summer of 2019!


Fall planning is underway. Expect the Fall brochure in early August.


Adventure Center

We were awarded an additional $8,500 for the month of May through the COVID-19 Public Health Support Fund. In total, we will have received $104,500 in aid from this funding source this fiscal year. This has gone a long way toward keeping us financially stable.


New funding has been made available for June, July, and August through MDE. We anticipate receiving a total of $9,000 in funding this summer.


In other good news, we have 116 registrations with an average of 80 kids/day attending summer school-age Adventure Center. In the summer of 2020, we had 69 registrations with an average of 50 kids/day. While not back up to the summer of 2019 numbers (141 registrations), we are pleased with the growth.


Sadly, just like last summer, we did not have enough preschool students enrolled to offer a summer program this year.


Now is the time to register for preschool and school-age child care for the fall of 2021.


New for the fall of 2021, we are working on offering a fee-based morning care program at Cambridge Middle School and Isanti Middle School. Look for registration materials in the next couple of weeks.


Early Childhood Family Education

ECFE is busy this summer with 5 classes in June all of which are full or nearly full. Currently, ECFE @ the Park, which will happen in July, has over 60 registrations for Isanti (Bluebird Park) and nearly 50 registrations for Cambridge (City Park).


We are excited to announce that we have received $28,800 in funding from MDE to provide kindergarten readiness programming this summer. With these funds, we were able to expand our program from three days a week, three hours a day, to four days a week, six and a half hours a day. Before opening registration to the public, high need families were invited to have their student attend. We are also able to offer this program for free to all participants. We will have three classrooms, two at Cambridge Intermediate School (one in partnership with Head Start) and one at Isanti Primary School.


Finally, due to the increased demand for space at Isanti Primary School, we are moving our Isanti ECFE program to Isanti Intermediate School for this school year. It is a beautiful space and we can hardly wait to serve our families from our new location.


TEACHING & LEARNING

by: Dr. Brenda Damiani


Planning for the 2021-22 School Year

The Department of Teaching and Learning will be meeting with Principals and Academic Coaches to plan for the 2021-22 School Year. This team will be reviewing curriculum implementation and the continuous improvement cycle, district assessment plan, World’s Best Workforce, Balanced Literacy, MTSS, technology integration, Marzano Focused Frameworks, and PBIS/social-emotional learning.


MDE SEL Grant

Cambridge-Isanti Schools is wrapping up the MDE SEL grant and planning for piloting SEL lessons from the Caring School Community curriculum. This curriculum has been evaluated by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and has received SELect status, CASEL’s highest designation for quality social and emotional learning programs. Caring School Community has “met or exceeded all of CASEL’s criteria for high-quality SEL programming”. Teachers in grades K-5 will implement lessons during their morning meetings. As with the academic curriculum, this pilot will be evaluated before adoption.


Summer Content Team Meetings

Over the summer, many content area teams will be meeting to take part in the continuous improvement process. The Cambridge-Isanti Continuous Improvement Process was implemented in the 2017-18 school year and consists of several parts. During the process, teachers and T&L ensure that the resources, either written by our teachers or purchased, align to the standards. Teachers collaborate in this process to ensure that students across the district are exposed to the same standards and skills no matter who they have as a teacher. Teachers also work on the scope and sequence. This means that they decide approximately when standards and skills will be taught and to what level each standard will be taught. Differentiation is also a focus in this process. Teachers determine how they will meet the needs of each student. The content area teams that will be meeting this summer are as follows: K-5 Social-Emotional Learning, 6-8 Math, 6-8 Art, 6-8 Health, 9-12 Health, K-5 Music, K-12 English Language Arts, K-12 Phy Ed, Stats & Probability, K-5 Art, 6-8 Science, 9-12 Art, and Grade 4 Science.



STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

by: Julie Williams


Special Education

Centralized Filing System Update

Cambridge-Isanti Schools will begin using a centralized filing system for Special Education files at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. By using a centralized system, it ensures each student’s special education file will be maintained permanently at the Education Services Center. This file will include all legally binding documents related to special education for the student. The change will also ensure that we do not misplace any legal documents due to teacher turnover, movement between buildings and room changes during the year.


This change comes after years of discussions with SELT and the ESC SpEd staff as we have looked toward what other districts do to ensure the maintenance of Special Education files. We will also be working with the policy committee in the future to update policies related to the retention of records.


Special Education Compliance and Assistance Update

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is moving to a new system for compliance and assistance in Special Education. The Stepwell MN web-based system is a collaborative workspace where the MDE and districts work together to improve results for all students with disabilities and ensure compliance. Moving forward, Stepwell will be MDE’s official platform for monitoring and supporting activities related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Minnesota’s special education statutes and rules.


What does this mean?

The MDE Monitoring and Compliance division will no longer be using the MnCIMP platform to track record reviews and are phasing out Corrective Action Plans (CAPs). This will allow for a statewide, random sampling approach. Districts will be asked to complete due process audits on a small sample of files in their district and will look at specific indicators as outlined by MDE. The change will mean a less punitive approach to monitoring special education due process.


MDE is starting the new process right away and is selecting districts now to participate in the new audit system with a 30-day compliance window. The special education program monitoring unit has randomly selected Cambridge-Isanti Public Schools to review a sample of 5 record(s) to measure compliance with the requirements of IDEA in one or more of the indicators. Stepwell MN training occurred mid-May and the new system opened at the end of May. As a district, we have until the end of June to complete the audit of our selected files.


Guidance Department

MDE's McKinney-Vento (Homeless) Project Interview

I met virtually with the Minnesota Department of Education as part of an interview for a project MDE is working on related to students experiencing homelessness. Over the years, MDE has noticed that data related to students experiencing homelessness is lower or less than their peers overall. They did notice though there are systems that have better results than others in this area and are interviewing districts that fall into this category to gain further knowledge on how their students experiencing homelessness are showing positive results.


Cambridge-Isanti Schools falls into this category with above-average data for students experiencing homelessness when compared to state averages. I attribute these results to the positive interactions our staff have with families as the guidance counselors and social workers make individualized contact with each student and their family. As a district, we have created a process from a district level for addressing and identifying students who are experiencing homelessness and bridging the gap for resources. This helps our students be more successful. If you see a guidance counselor or social worker, please thank them for the work they do to communicate with families and keep students connected to their schools!