Owatonna Public Schools

District Newsletter

June 2020

#MissionMoment Spotlight

Our Success Coaches help build relationships!

"Without Success Coaches we would miss a vital link to and from our multilingual families. I'm constantly humbled and reminded how amazing this group is to our community."

~Dr. Martina Wagner, EL Coordinator

Success Coaches serve as liaisons between multilingual families/students and school sites to help develop and sustain a trusting and supportive relationship that will benefit students, families, and the district. Thank you, Success Coaches, for inspiring excellence, every day!


Click here to view the #MissionMoment video clip from the May 20 school board meeting.

Pictured top right, left to right: Ana Alvarez, Melina Caballero, Khadra Muhidin, Antonieta Sanchez-Mendez, Muna Hersi, Nura Elmi, and Hussein Osman (not pictured: Sylvia Zavala)

Financial Planning Underway

The primary focus for district staff the past few months has been on providing distance learning and supporting our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. As good stewards of our community’s schools, we also need to run the school district, which includes managing our finances.

One important part of Owatonna Public Schools funding is the operating levy our community approved in 2013 to support our school staff and programs, for which we are very grateful. That levy expires next year - and if it is not renewed in November 2020:

  • We will lose $2.5 million per year, requiring cuts to programs and services

  • These cuts would be on top of $500,000 already cut in 2019-20 and $2 million in cuts planned for 2020-21

In addition, our long-range outlook shows expenses outpacing revenue, which means only renewing the levy will not be enough to maintain the educational programs our students deserve and our community expects. The School Board is reviewing options to ensure we have the funds we need and is considering asking voters to approve an operating levy increase this November. One option is a levy increase that would be phased-in over time, which would also phase-in the tax increase over time. Even with an increase, budget cuts would still be needed to balance expenses with revenues. The next discussion will be at the June 29 School Board meeting, with a decision expected in July.

Learn more about the financial challenges and planning taking place here.

Parent Views on Distance Learning

While Owatonna Public Schools staff had only a few days to set up a distance learning system in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, elementary parents have been very satisfied with how distance learning worked for their children.

According to a survey of our elementary parents last month, an overwhelming majority either agreed or strongly agreed with the following statements:

  • Teacher responds to questions and concerns in a reasonable timeframe: 98%

  • Easy to reach teacher with questions: 97%

  • Child has been able to access materials/assignments through internet or paper copies: 94%

  • Child understands what is expected each week: 86%

  • The amount of work assigned each day is just right: 81%

  • Child has felt connected to classmates and teacher through online meetings: 77%

  • Child felt confident navigating Google classroom with occasional help: 76%

There were definitely concerns and hiccups shared by some parents, especially for parents juggling their own work and their child’s work. Most recognized the extraordinary circumstances and appreciated how hard teachers were working to support students and families. Many thanks to the nearly 600 elementary school parents who responded to the survey. Feedback helped staff make adjustments - and will help inform future efforts to implement distance learning.

Free Meals for Children Ages 1-18

Summer Food Program

Monday-Thursday, June 8-August 6

11:30 am - 12:30 pm


McKinley Elementary - 1050 22nd Street NE

Owatonna Middle School - 500 15th Street NE

Owatonna Public Library - 105 N Elm Ave

No sign-up required! Meal bundles include both breakfast and lunch. Thursday meal bundles include meals for both Thursday and Friday. Adults can purchase a single meal bundle for $7.00. Exact change required.


June McKinley & OMS Menus

June Owatonna Public Library Menu

Congratulations, Class of 2020!

We received direction from the MN Department of Education in partnership with the Department of Health that states the safest way to observe graduation/commencement is for everyone to stay home. Indoor graduation ceremonies and ceremonies held outside in stadiums and football fields are not permitted. These gatherings are not considered safe at any size and will not be allowed. Full information on the state guidance can be found here.

After seeking input from seniors, we have planned a full day of events for the Class of 2020 and their families on Sunday, June 7. In the morning, students and their families will have the opportunity to drive-up for a professional photo with their diploma in their cap and gown and breakfast treats. We'll have a drive-up commencement ceremony with a live broadcast through the radio on AM 1390 KRFO and FM 100.9 KOWZ at 2:00 pm. All seniors will be honored and receive recognition from honored guests. At 9:30 pm, we will "Light the Night" for the Class of 2020. Community members can drive by Owatonna High School to see it lit up in a special way for the Class of 2020. Owatonna High School students and families should have received a letter from their principal containing the details for this special day.

Congratulations, Teacher of the Year, Jess Wagner!

Jess Wagner has been a Language Arts teacher at Owatonna High School since 2002. We are honored to have her on our #OwatonnaProud team!
Big picture

School Board Meeting - June 8, 2020 at 5:30 pm

There will be a special meeting of the school board on Monday, June 8, 2020 at 5:30 pm. The school board work session will immediately follow the special meeting.

Due to the current federal and state emergency declarations and guidance about limiting person-to-person contact due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the Owatonna Public Schools (ISD 761) school board meetings continue to be conducted in accordance with Minnesota Statute 13D.021 - Meetings by Telephone or Other Electronic Means.

In accordance with Minnesota Statute 13D.021, members of the public are not permitted to attend meetings due to the current health pandemic. Persons may monitor meetings from a remote location by visiting the school district website where they will find the live-stream video (www.isd761.org > Our District > School Board > Board Meetings).

All school board meeting dates can be found on our website: www.isd761.org.

Stay Connected!

Celebrate our students, our staff and our schools by following us on social media. If you like what you see, be sure to share it with others. Together, we are #OwatonnaProud!

Follow us:


Share OPS News

Feel free to share this newsletter with others interested in the Owatonna Public Schools.

Sign up for news here.