School Board Update

December 2020

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

  • Final 2020 Payable 2021 Property Tax Levy
  • Memorandum of Understanding between SEIU and Cambridge Isanti Schools
  • Online Learning Provider Application
  • 2020 Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA) Board of Directors Candidates

Full board agenda can be found here.

Superintendent's Report - Dr. Rudolph

Once again, as you can see by reading the reports from Directors throughout the district, there is quite a bit happening. I could not be more proud of our teams who remain focused on educating students and supporting families through the most unusual of circumstances. Also, as you will recognize, the annual tasks of the organization continue. Deadlines, reports, and plans are all continuing to be worked through and completed.


As Superintendent, I would like to highlight some of the items that have not been included by Directors thus far. For example, we are working closely with Isanti County Public Health to prepare for closed and/or open pod distribution plans for vaccinations if called upon. We also work closely with Isanti County Family Services to identify areas of improvement and ways to strengthen our support for disengaged students and families who continue to need additional support as we navigate through the pandemic. This past week, I met with community leaders to share information and ideas about best practices for hiring and inclusion. Our Dollars for Scholars team continues to work diligently to advocate and raise money for this year’s graduates. We are making plans to launch our CommunityTask Force for planning for our district’s future after the first of the new year. We will also be launching our Community Finance Advisory Committee in January. We are working diligently to constantly improve and evolve in our return to learn planning and remain focused on our guiding principle of finding ways to safely bring students back to in-person learning as soon as possible.


These are just a few more details of the many functions happening in our school district each day. We are encouraged for our future and working intentionally to serve students and families while planning for the near and distant future.

Administration Report Highlights

ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES & HUMAN RESOURCES

by: Shawn Kirkeide


With the shift to Distance Learning, the human resources team has spent much of this month collaborating with SEIU union representatives, directors, principals, and administration on creating a furlough process that addresses the decreased workload some positions face when students are not in our buildings full-time. While furloughs were never something we'd wanted to do, throughout the process we have learned a great deal. We continue to support our staff members by answering an abundance of questions and maintaining a furlough question and answer guide. We recognize that this is a difficult time for our staff members and want to provide as much information and support as we can.


In other news, we have been working with the USI consulting group as it relates to workers compensation. We have been very pleased with them so far. They have been wonderful to work with and are on top of all of our old worker's compensation claims, as well as the new ones that have been submitted. We are excited to continue our working relationship with USI.


FINANCE AND OPERATIONS

by: Christopher Kampa, CFA


Finance

We are already starting to see gains with our new property/liability and workers compensation Insurance broker, USI Consulting Group. Workers compensation premiums are based on past experience (i.e. a higher number of claims results in higher premiums). Because our number of claims has been improving, and because of additional work by USI, our workers compensation premiums will decrease from $603k to $477k next year, a savings of $126k!


We are incurring additional expenses related to COVID this year. The majority of expenses are related to the purchase of chromebooks and related technology to offer distance/online learning, additional custodial staff and equipment to maintain the sanitary conditions of our buildings, and transportation expenses to comply with COVID guidelines. To help with this, we are receiving two forms of funding: Education Stabilization funds (GEERs: $416,249 and ESSER: $423,836) and Coronavirus Relief Funds (State: $1,264,104, Isanti County: $522,000, Chisago County: $12,788, and Isanti Township: $10,000). The total additional funding is $2.6 million!


Our first big CARES funding deadline is December 30th where we need to certify that we have enough eligible expenses to qualify for the Coronavirus Relief Funds ($1.8 million). The challenge is not all additional expenses qualify as eligible. One of our guiding principles is to identify purchases that will help respond to COVID challenges and benefit the district long-term. We are confident we will be able to demonstrate enough eligible, COVID-related, expenses have been incurred by the December 30th deadline.


Transportation

As our schools are in distance learning, we have been providing transportation for Tier 1 childcare and weekly instructional material deliveries. Unfortunately, many of our drivers were furloughed this week. To their credit, most of our drivers are still willing to work once-a-week to provide material deliveries. We appreciate their sacrifice and hope we can return to school soon!


Food Service

We continue to do our best to adapt to an ever-changing environment. On December 7th, we began offering breakfast and lunch for curbside pickup at Isanti Primary School and at Cambridge Primary-Intermediate School, with extended hours of 8:00am to 1:30pm each day. We are beginning several administrative tasks such as vendor procurement, on-site reviews, and the conclusion of general audits. We are all looking forward to eventually seeing students back in the lunchrooms!


Building & Grounds

Our custodial and grounds crews are working on maintaining and keeping our buildings safe and ready for when our students come back off of the distance learning model. Crews are working on HVAC upkeep, painting projects, school dude work request, organizing our storage areas and overall general maintenance of our facilities


As we pause for the distance learning model, with the hope our kids and staff are back as soon as possible, we are in the planning stages for possible upcoming summer projects. As we look to maximize our LTFM dollars and stretch them as far as they will go, we are identifying the priority projects of the district.


COMMUNITY EDUCATION

by: Aviva Hillenbrand


Being new to the team, I have been getting to know our programs and staff as well as helping with COVID-19 related transitions. Hats off to Pat Bourke and the Adventure Center team for their work providing a smooth transition for families to Distance Learning. Kim Goodmanson and her team are continuing to provide Preschool, Screening, and ECFE classes, all online, for families. The same is true for Caroline Nerhus and our Adult Basic Education program, we are continuing to provide programming in an online format. Meanwhile, Joelle Tvedt is working hard to plan our upcoming season of Adult and Youth enrichment classes as a mix of online and socially-distanced, in-person options. I am looking forward to working with this fantastic group to grow and strengthen Community Education together.


TEACHING & LEARNING

by: Dr. Brenda Damiani


Technology

The technology team continues to support the distance learning model through the tech help desk. Students and staff are submitting help requests which are routed to the appropriate technician, who then reaches out to assist staff, parents, and students with their tech needs.


Erin Eberhardt has continued in her role as the C-I Tech Help Desk Assistant with a focus on supporting the students who opted into the full-time distance learning/online option this year. She is also acting as our district ECMECC Digital Navigator where she assists families in need of better internet connectivity either by helping them understand their internet options or by providing them with a district-issued hot spot.


In early December, in partnership with Chris Kampa and the finance department, we were able to create a plan to utilize CARE funds to replace teacher Chromebooks, while at the same time, repurposing their old Chromebooks to students/families in an effort to provide additional Chromebooks to elementary families. This plan will save the district general fund dollars in the 2021-22 school year.


Federal Programs

We are making great progress in the implementation process of the Behavioral Health Grant that we received from the MN Departments of Health and Education. Two of our Isanti Middle School staff, Terri Emmons and Katelyn Larson, have completed the three LifeSkills workshops so they are prepared to effectively implement the prevention education activities and teaching strategies in the program. Additional requirements of the grant include the need of a Program Coordinator: Tammy Kraft and a Fidelity Monitor, Sara Edwards, who observes the instruction to ensure fidelity of implementation. Both Tammy and Sara attended an online training on December 9, 2020, so all staff who are directly involved are ready, and we’re excited to get things up and running.


STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

by: Julie Williams


Special Education

Special Education Advisory Council

SEAC (Special Education Advisory Council) met for the first meeting of the 2020-2021 school year on November 19. SEAC is a parent advisory committee for parents of students with special education needs. One goal of SEAC is to bring parents together to discuss special education services, provide resources to parents, and time for networking. Meetings for 2020 have shifted to a virtual format. With this shift, we did see more parents able to participate as we had 25 parents join for the first meeting.


For the meetings this year the plan is to bring a guest speaker to the group to explore resources for parents. We kicked off the year with a presentation by PACER. Often, parents see PACER as a resource to contact when they are at odds with the district and need a parent advocate. PACER does assist with parent advocacy at educational meetings, but also offers a variety of other resources for families. As a group, we were able to hear more information from the PACER advocate and gain valuable insight on accessing resources. We plan to continue this partnership with PACER as the year continues!


PACER presentation to SEAC