From the Office of the Superintendent 9/19/19

Weekly Briefing for ISD 709 Faculty & Staff

Dear Colleagues,

It's uplifting this time of year to walk through our classrooms, cafeterias and playgrounds, to see our buses rolling through the streets of Duluth and recognize all the good people we have in our district and the good work they do.

As I visited schools this week I saw many different ways of engaging students. I heard people greeting each other and students in the hallway. A few times I saw students coming into school or into class late -- and being welcomed with “I’m so glad you’re here!” Thank you for everything you do to engage our students in meaningful lessons and for creating safe and welcoming environments for all of our students!

We were honored to have Minnesota's Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker come to Lincoln Park Middle School to hear about our Full-Service Community Schools. Many thanks to all who helped support this visit.

This spring and summer we gathered data and did the prep work necessary to begin a review and discussion of school boundaries. The first steps occur in October and November. They involve work sessions and focus groups and will be used to create draft scenarios to take out to our entire community for review and comment.

Thanks for giving our students a great start to the school year.

Kind Regards,


If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email: Superintendents@ISD709.org. Twitter: @billgronseth

Boundary Project, Duluth Public Schools

This fall and winter, citizens will be asked to review information related to current school attendance areas and discuss potential changes.


  • Consider adjustments that would help ensure enrollment numbers are appropriate for the capacity of each school.
  • Provide the detailed data and analysis necessary to help make informed decisions. The school district is working with Cooperative Strategies, a firm with expertise in helping school districts gather data, analyze and draft boundaries for public consideration.
  • Incorporate family, staff, community and underserved communities input into the decision making process.

Most larger districts adjust boundaries every few years - it's been over ten years since Duluth made adjustments to boundaries.

The earliest any boundary changes would take place is September 2020.

Those interested in participating in a work session in October or focus group in November are invited to call 218-336-8752 or email melinda.thibault@isd709.org.

Current School Boundaries, Attendance Areas

Process Overview, Details

Duluth School Board Seeks Applicants for Vacant At Large Seat

The Board of Independent School District 709, Duluth, MN, is seeking qualified applicants for a vacant At Large board seat.

· Applicants must be 21 years of age or more on November 2, 2019.

· They must be a resident within Duluth Public School boundaries for at least 30 days prior to November 2, 2019.

Applications and details are available:

· Online at www.ISD709.org

· Superintendent’s Office, Historic Old Central HS, 215 N. 1st Avenue East, Duluth MN 55802 Room 213

· Any ISD 709 School Office

Deadline for applications: 4:00PM Monday, September 23, 2019

Questions: Melinda Thibault, School Board Secretary, 218-336-8752

ISD 709 Families Invited to Join School Continuous Improvement Teams

When schools, families and communities work together more students achieve at higher levels. Knowing that, we’re inviting families to become more involved in our school leadership teams, which are called Continuous Improvement Teams or CITs.

  • The team includes building administration, teacher leaders, and parents/guardians. Its purpose is to improve student achievement for all learners.
  • Team meeting dates and times are the decision of each school. In general, teams meet 1-2 time(s) per month for 1-2 hour(s) before or after school. New CIT members receive introductory training.
  • CITs also focus on equity. The Duluth School District follows the Ten Minnesota Commitments to Equity. In addition, ISD 709 adopted an equity framework and uses the Tool for Equity Accountability to help make decisions and consider the impact of decisions on all learners.

We encourage families to consider joining their school CIT and helping us with this important work. Families can contact their school principal if they're willing to make the commitment.

ISD 709 News

We know there are a lot of great things going on in our schools - let's make sure we're letting everyone else know, too! Share your school, student, staff accomplishments, projects and events with Kathleen.Kaufman@ISD709.org, they'll be used in email newsletters, social media, websites and other communication venues.

Follow Us For ISD 709 School News:





Lincoln Park MS Hosts MN Education Commissioner

Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker held a workshop at LPMS to talke about Full-Service Community Schools (FSCS). Duluth has three: Denfeld, Lincoln Park and Myers-Wilkins. They help connect children and families with the academic, social and health services necessary to provide a stable environment for learning.

The Commissioner led a panel of experts from Duluth Public Schools and the MN Dept of Education in a discussion about what it takes to set up a full-service community school, the benefits and challenges of adopting the model, and how MDE can be a partner to full-service community schools. Thank you, Commissioner Ricker, we appreciate opportunities to share what we do with state leaders!

Panel (l to r):
Angel Nustad-Peluso, DCSC/FSCS Coordinator, Denfeld HS
Mary Cathryn Ricker, MN Ed Commissioner
Bill Gronseth, Superintendent
Ed Lewis, Denfeld HS Teacher
Rachel Thapa, FSCS Coordinator, Lincoln Park MS
Jessica Olson, Parent, Myers-Wilkins Elementary
Jackie Blagsvedt, MDE School Improvement Program Specialist

Thanks to Lincoln Park MS staff and the Duluth Community School Collaborative who helped support this event!

Denfeld Culinary Arts Students Cater for MN Education Commissioner Visit

Denfeld Clock Tower Cafe students, led by Chef Leah McNeil, provided refreshments for MN Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker's visit to Lincoln Park MS this week.

Their first day in the kitchen this semester and you wouldn't know it - delicious treats, professional service!

ISD 709 Career & Technical Education

Denfeld Student Recognized for Achievement

This month the Duluth School Board recognized Helen Clanaugh, Denfeld High School.

Helen has been selected to serve on the Minnesota Youth Council representing Congressional District 8. The Council is a collaboration of youth and adults working together to empower and mobilize young people across the state to exercise their voices, opinions and ideas and take action on issues affecting youth.

The MN Legislature formally recognized the work of the Council in 2013, passing into law the Minnesota Youth Council Committee Bill.

This establishes the Minnesota Youth Council as an official legislative committee, creating a system for youth to provide advice and recommendations to the legislature and the governor.

Helen has been involved in advocacy and organizing for about 2 years. She is the Social Media Lead for Students Demand Action and is on the TakeAction MN Duluth Core Team.

Congratulations, Helen, and best wishes as you serve in this important role.

What is a Hero?

What Is a Hero? video by Laura MacArthur Elementary students and their teacher Amy Auran, in remembrance of the heroes of 911. #MyHero #Inspire709



Homecroft Students at Forestry Field Day
"They were teaching us about fire, firefighters and how many fires there were. There were 100 fires and 98 out of those 100 fires were created by people," shared Kadence, a fifth grader from Homecroft Elementary School. Good job, Kadence!
This was the 36th Annual Duluth 5th Grade Forestry Field Day at Lester Park, students in and around the Duluth area participated. The event is sponsored by the Society of American Foresters. Activities were cut short this year due to weather conditions.


Duluth East, Denfeld Robotics at 148th Family Day

Duluth East Daredevils and Denfeld DNA Robotics provided a robot demonstration to families of the 148th Air National Guard. Team members talked about FIRST robotics and kids were able to drive a robot called Andromeda. Using a robot called Control Y team members shot out soft baseballs and t-shirts. The day was a blast, teams say they look forward to more opportunities to immerse the community in FIRST Robotics! #GraciousProfessionalism #Inspire709

Duluth East Daredevils

Denfeld Nation Automation

Thank You, School Safety Patrols

Laura MacArthur Safety Patrol out helping students get across walkways safely. Great job Eagles and thanks to Mrs. Pelto for her help!


Bountiful Harvest for Ordean East

The Ordean East Garden Crew managed an impressive harvest of spinach, kale, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a whopping 48.28 pounds of potatoes! Many thanks to Ms. Pavlisich for coordinating all of Ordean East's amazing student and staff efforts in the school garden.

Piedmont Spirit Day

Vikings-Packers Spirit Day! We’ve got the spirit, yes, we do!


Spotlight: Denfeld Riverwatch

Students from Denfeld High School took part in a Riverwatch field trip, a water quality monitoring program for the St. Louis River and its tributaries in northeastern Minnesota. This project promotes and inspires stewardship of the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior and other nearby waterways.

Jean-Paul Rennquist traveled as a chaperone with Denfeld students as they conducted an analysis of Merritt Creek. He shared Ojibwemowin - nibi for water and manoomin for wild rice – and talked about how these were fundamental materials in the Ojibwe worldview. He said studying what happens to water and how it could affect sensitive life forms like manoomin are both a scientific undertaking and a form of cultural preservation. “Miigwech for the teachers who invited me to help with this expedition,” he said. Thank you, JP, for the photos and info.

#Inspire709 #DenfeldHunterPride

Indigneous Foods Expo

The American Indian Community Housing Organization hosts Duluth’s first large-scale Indigenous Foods Expo. This family-oriented, community-wide inclusive event will be held:

Saturday September 21, 2019 11AM - 3PM

Free and open to the public

WEATHER ALERT - Location changed to:

AICHO Main Building - 202 W. 2nd Street

Parking: 2nd Ave W. Arrowhead Place & 2nd Street Lake Superior College parking lots.

Featuring local and regional healthy and Indigenous food vendors; cooking and food processing demos featuring Chef Sean Sherman, Founder of the Company The Sioux Chef; music featuring Annie Humphrey and others; cultural arts activities; a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, games, and more.
Contact: niiwinmarket@gmail.com

Check Our Website
Please help us spread the word to others. Miigwech!

Duluth Community School Collaborative

Steps to the Future Powwow

September 26, 2019 4:00PM - 7:00PM

Myers-Wilkins Elementary School

1027 N. 8th Avenue East, Duluth MN

4:30PM - 5:30PM Pop-Up Produce

5:00PM - 6:00PM Free Dinner

6:00PM - 7:00PM Powwow

This event will be held outside, please dress for the weather. Blankets and folding chairs encouraged.

Skate for 8

2019 Memorial No-Check Hockey Games

Heritage Sill Arena

Saturday, September 21, 2019 9AM-5PM

Free event open to both male and female players 11 years of age and up.

Dinner at Clyde Iron Works, 6PM - 10PM

Proceeds from this event will be kept local. Join us in raising awareness for mental health and suicide prevention. Register today at skatefor8.org

In Memory of Hunter Fronden, Hockey Player, Friend, Dearly Missed