School Board Update

April 24, 2020

Meeting Overview

Each month the board is presented with non-action and action items for their consideration. A few noteworthy items from April 23rd's meeting are included here:


Items Approved by the Board

  • FY 21 Budget Adjustments – Final Recommendations
  • Unrequested Leave of Absence of Teachers Ending School Year 2019-2020
  • Non-Renewal of Probationary Teachers Ending School Year 2019-2020
  • Staff Layoffs
  • Heath Insurance Provider
  • Health Insurance Premiums
  • Dental Insurance Premiums
  • EAP

Full board agenda can be found here
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Superintendent's Report - Dr. Rudolph

Yesterday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz extended Distance Learning and school closure through the end of the school year (June 4, 2020). We are living history. Minnesota is the 40th state in America to close school buildings for the rest of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic. At Cambridge-Isanti Schools, we are committed to providing high-quality distance learning opportunities for Every Student, Every Day.


As you can see from the reports from Directors throughout our district, there is so much happening in our district to provide high quality distance learning experiences and supports for students and families each day while responsibly planning for the future. I cannot express my level of pride and appreciation for all of our staff. Everyone has been asked to work differently, to adjust their personal and professional lives, to make sacrifices, and to go out of their ways to connect and support students and families. The fact that we were able to completely retool our organization in a very short amount of time is a credit to the dedication, innovative spirit, and passion that our educators and staff members possess.


While we have been planning and providing distance learning for every student, every day, we have also needed to make difficult decisions regarding our future budget. Nobody would ask to be in situations like these, but nevertheless, it is our responsibility to plan for the future. I am thankful for the feedback that has been provided by staff, parents, and community members. It offered great insight and ideas about the reduction process and considerations. I will look forward to continued planning opportunities that focus on long term solutions.

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Administration Report Highlights

ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES AND HUMAN RESOURCES

by: Human Resources Department


Benefits

The human resources department has continued to support staff during the Covid-19 pandemic. We rolled out the HealthJoy app at the end of February for all staff that are currently enrolled in our medical insurance plan. Currently, over 60% of eligible employees have downloaded the free app. The app provides employees with a live healthcare concierge and online doctors, prescription reviews, medical bill reviews, and a benefit’s wallet with all of their benefit information in one convenient place.


Open enrollment for the 2020-21 school year starts on Monday, April 27 for benefit eligible staff. Enrollment will be completed online via the PlanSource website, as in previous years. The open enrollment window will close on Monday, May 11 and the new plan year will begin on July 1, 2020.


Bluejacket Celebration

Due to social distancing guidelines, the annual Bluejacket Celebration has been rescheduled for Thursday, May 28 at 4:00 p.m. This year’s celebration will be held virtually where we will be celebrating all of our retirees, years of service milestones, and winners for the following awards: Teacher of Excellence, Support Staff Person of the Year, PBIS, Friend of the Cambridge-Isanti Community, and the “Bluejacket Way” Above and Beyond Award. More information on how to join the virtual event will be sent via email to all staff in the coming weeks. You won’t want to miss this event!


FINANCE AND OPERATIONS

by: Christopher Kampa, CFA


Finance

The administrative team is nearing completion on the very difficult task to identify $3.0 million in reductions for this budget cycle. This has been a heavy process for all involved. Our goal from the beginning of this process was to minimize the human impact and we identified several creative measures to achieve that goal. However, we are an organization made up of people, and people represent 80% of our expenses. So unfortunately, layoffs are a part of the budget reduction. As we establish our budget for next year, we will continue to look for areas where we can realize efficiencies to stretch our dollars.



Transportation

Transportation has played an integral role in our long distance learning plan and food service distribution processes. Our bus drivers are delivering to 23 satellite sites around the district for students to receive instructional materials and families to pick-up breakfast and lunch meals daily. We are also delivering instructional materials to the homes of our students with special needs or individualized learning plans.


Food Service

Our Food Service team has done an exceptional job at changing the delivery method of meals since our schools closed in March. Our overarching goal is to ensure that every family has access to free and nutritional meals, breakfast and lunch, during these unprecedented times. Our food service fund does not receive general funding from the state. Because we only receive revenue for meals actually served, we have instituted several creative strategies to increase the number of meals we provide to families. In addition to the 23 satellite sites that we deliver to, we are delivering meals to our local daycares and providing meals to district employees with children. Anyone with a child under age 18 is eligible to receive free meals. Our goal is to serve 2,000 meals per day to financially break-even. Last week, we hit our peak at 1,900, so we are close to meeting that goal!


Building & Grounds

The custodial and grounds crews are continuing to work during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Staff are currently focusing on building repair lists, mechanical filter change outs, and miscellaneous projects that are usually performed in the summer months. We are ensuring that rooms used for our emergency worker daycare program are cleaned and disinfected routinely. We are using a hospital-grade cleanser that kills viruses and bacteria instantly.



New Facility

Building construction on the Woodland Campus is approximately 70% complete. The main highlights include the installation of gym equipment and flooring in the Moving Forward and Riverside Academy areas. Flooring will be installed in the administration and Brookside Academy area shortly. The exterior of the building is complete (minus a few finishing touches), and the pumphouse building has also been completed. Mechanical startups should take place around mid-May; concrete work and paving will take place the week of May 11th. Landscaping is scheduled for the first week in June. Completion on the building is slated for June 1st and we still expect final construction costs to come in on budget. Our contractors continue to do outstanding work!


COMMUNITY EDUCATION

by: Dave Maurer


Distance learning is happening within our Early Childhood and Adult Basic Education programs. Early Childhood is seeing a high participation rate, 74% in ECFE and 94% in Preschool. Adult Basic Education staff are working hard to stay connected with students and provide education, support, and encouragement to them.


The Emergency Child Care is providing daily care for 35 - 40 students each day. IPS and CPS are both open for care. It is heartwarming to see staff warmly greet and welcome students, help with the children who have a difficult time transitioning, and help with distance learning. Our character traits are on display each and every day!



TEACHING & LEARNING

by: Dr. Brenda Damiani


Distance Learning

We are in Week 4 of Distance Learning. Building principals are in the process of conducting family surveys to gain feedback about Distance Learning and determining areas for improvement. Preliminary results show very positive feedback and also highlight challenges for students and families. We look forward to sharing the final results and will continue to address any challenges that are faced during this time.


We are extremely grateful for the hard work and dedication of all of our employees and families during this time. Everyone is adapting to a new way of education, and we are very proud of everyone’s efforts to go “above and beyond” during Distance Learning.


April 13 Professional Development

April 13 represented our first Flexible Professional Learning Day. Licensed staff could complete their professional development through workshops and onlines courses prior to April 13 or participate on April 13. With the school closure, April 13 was a virtual day through Google Hangouts and webinars with topics related to Distance Learning including technology, equitable practices, and mental health. With the school closure, staff now have until May 15 to complete their requirement. Overall, the feedback has been very positive about this opportunity, and we are looking forward to expanded options for next year.


Technology

The technology department has worked diligently to provide distance learning support services to teachers, staff, students, and parents/families over the last several weeks. The technicians have been an integral part of the success of our students/families acquiring a Chromebook at the K-5 level, helping families troubleshoot technology issues, and have also participated in training to help teachers better utilize the technology available to them during distance learning. Students/Parents can continue to request support through the Distance Learning Tech Help Desk: https://bit.ly/CIDLTechHelp


From an integration perspective, Patrick Morrow, the current Assessment Coordinator and former tech integration specialist, has stepped in alongside Jeremy Miller to provide outstanding training and support to teachers and staff members. Training that has been offered include Hangouts Meet, Screencastify, YouTube, Schoology, EdPuzzle, FlipGrid, The Role of Video in Online/Distance Learning, and Assessments in Online/Distance Learning. We have seen tremendous effort and growth on the part of our teachers across the district as they rise to the challenge and transform their practices. We are very thankful for the expertise that both Patrick and Jeremy bring to the technology integration support.


Under the recommendation of the District Tech Advisory Committee, this spring, the team of Patrick Morrow, James Klimek, Michael Porta, Terri Olson, Caroline Nerhus, Laura Smith, Jo Ann Long, and Jill Puffer, are beginning the website migration project, transferring from our self-hosted Drupal 7 based website to a Blackboard hosted site. Our current Drupal 7 website software has reached its end of life. We are opting to transition to a hosted website solution in order to reduce costs, increase security, and provide a website that is robust and meets the needs of our community, students, and families. The Blackboard platform will also include systems integration with our Skyward SIS and Parentlink Messaging system much like the former district app did but at a fraction of the cost.


Federal Programs

We are excited to announce that we have been granted two of our recently submitted grant proposals. One from the Minnesota Department of Education and the second from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.


On March 20th, the Minnesota Dept. of Human Services notified us that Isanti Middle School and the Minnesota Center had been selected through a random selection process to participate in the Behavioral Health and Wellness Grant. The State will provide the LifeSkills training and materials needed to implement the LifeSkills curriculum during the 2020-2021 to 2023-24 school years, along with technical assistance as needed. Cambridge Middle School was selected as a BAU (control school) for the 2020-2021 & 2021-2022 school years and will start their free LST training starting in 2023-2014. The State received approval of additional funds for the purchase of the curriculum materials for control schools, and control schools will receive a $1500 stipend as compensation for the coordination of and satisfactory participation in the evaluation activities. LifeSkills is a research-based curriculum that we have used in the past, and are excited to implement this version with our middle school students.


On April 17th, the Minnesota Department of Education notified us that our grant application had been accepted, and we were granted participation and funds for the Social Emotional Learning Communities of Practice - FY20 - State Competitive Grant. This grant will allow us to send a designated Leadership Team to the Department of Education to be trained in MDE’s Social Emotional Learning Implementation Guidance and the Collaborative for Social Emotional learning (CASEL’s) Theory of Action for Systemic SEL. The responsibility of the district SEL Leadership team will include training all central office staff and schoolwide staff through purposefully designed professional development activities throughout the school year. The SEL Leadership team will also work with the Teaching & Learning Team and the Administrative team to develop plans for community outreach efforts.


In addition to training, this grant will allow us to purchase the Second Step SEL Program plus Bullying Prevention curriculum for our K-5 buildings in year one. It will also provide us with funds to send 2 designated staff to the Second Step Leadership Train the Trainer Institute. Team members will gain the skills to become Trainers for the Second Step Social Emotional Learning Curriculum and will be required to facilitate professional learning with district staff, community stakeholders, and school staff. This curriculum was presented to the board this winter, and we are pleased to expand its use to all elementary schools.


Year 2 funds will allow us to continue with training of the District SEL Leadership Team with MDE and to pay for 2 schoolwide 5 Year License for the Second Step Middle School Program which includes all staff access for grades 6-8 and the Principal Toolkit. Again, all of this aligns with our SEL and PBIS efforts that we currently have in place.


Data & Assessment

The Data & Assessment department has been working on wrapping up some logistics items for MDE regarding spring MCA and ACT testing, including returning materials and closing out sessions. More information is yet to come from MDE regarding the process of moving forward. With state testing suspended, a focus has been made on training and supporting staff in the development of online assessments. Not only will these training sessions and the assessments developed from these trainings be valuable in distance learning, but they will also carry over into the future and offer a foundation for moving towards common district assessments. The participation of staff in these trainings has been remarkable, with an average of around 100 people attending per session. These training sessions have focused on some immediate tools, such as utilizing Google Meet to deliver content and administer formative assessments and using screencastify to make tutorials and instruct on specific tasks. More training on specific assessment strategies will be offered throughout the spring to all grade levels and content areas. In the area of data, there has been some progress made on developing a tracking system for communication (CIHS) and various attendance tracking processes. Data and Assessment will focus this spring on building more robust data visualizations using Tableau.


STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

by: Julie Williams


Special Education

The Special Education teachers across the district have done a fabulous job working with students during the distance learning period. They have worked together as teams and are collaborating with Instructional Assistants in order to ensure student needs are being met in a distance learning model.


Staff members are being flexible as their job duties have looked different during this time. The Instructional Assistants are following a rotational schedule and have stepped in to assist with emergency childcare, food distribution, materials delivery, and supporting students in distance learning.


Spring is typically full of planning for the next year with families as we work to transition students to the next grades and buildings. We are continuing that this spring but it will look different while following a distance learning model.


Extended School Year

At this time, Extended School Year (ESY) planning is usually in full swing. We have held off a bit as we are waiting on guidance from MDE on what summer programming may look like. Our team has discussed alternative options and we will move forward once we have further guidance.


Staffing Changes/Additions

We had contracted for 2 School Psychologist positions this year. I am happy to report that we were able to hire 2 School Psychologists for next year that will be employees of the district and not contracted services!


Part of the Budget Reduction Plan included a restructure of the Special Education Evaluation Team (SEET) positions. This restructure allowed for SpEd allocation to go back to the classroom. Also, additional positions were added to look at lowering special ed caseloads. We continue to get many students with disabilities that move into the district or open enroll with us. Having additional staff will allow us to provide services to meet the needs of the students.


Brookside Academy

We continue to plan for the opening of Brookside Academy (setting IV). I met with Rum River Coop yesterday as we work through plans on transitioning students. Each student is unique in their needs so there will be some students who stay with Rum River Coop as they have already started to transition back to a C-I school. Travis Fuhol, Brookside Academy SpEd Coordinator, will start reaching out and connecting with students that will be attending in the fall. We will also be planning on several open house times later in the summer so students and families will be able to see the new building.


Masks

With the guidance from the CDC and MDH changing to encourage people who are working in the public to wear masks, the district realized a need to have masks to give to staff that are working in buildings, providing emergency childcare, food service, and material delivery. Wendy Bengston, transportation driver, stepped up in a big way! With the provided materials, she, along with her quilting group, made over 300 masks for our staff! If you see Wendy, thank her for being a rockstar!