Owatonna Public Schools

District Newsletter - November 2021

Mission Moment Spotlight

At the October 25 School Board meeting, Superintendent Elstad recognized our All-State music students. We are #OwatonnaProud of these students for inspiring excellence both in the classroom and with their voices and instruments.

  • All-State Choir students: Henry Bell, Julia Christenson, Max Guenther, Alec Harris
  • All-State Orchestra students: Elizabeth Granowski (strings), Emily Jacobs (percussion)
  • All-State Band students: Ava Hess, Katelynn Paape, Scott Weckman

Existing OHS Citizens Task Force

Thank you to everyone who applied to participate in the Existing Owatonna High School Citizens' Task Force! Nearly 60 people applied to be a part of this task force and 25 members have been selected. The School Board greatly appreciates our community's willingness to help guide the District in its discussion on the existing OHS site!

The Existing Owatonna High School Citizens' Task Force will begin meeting in November to examine the future of the existing Owatonna High School facility, which will no longer be used for 9-12 instruction when the new high school opens in 2023. As a part of the November 2019 Bond Referendum, the community voted to approve question #2 which allocated funds for the conversion of portions of the building for District use. As a part of this funding request, the District committed to engaging the community about the future of the facility, and this Existing OHS Citizens’ Task Force is a part of that process. The task force will review and discuss ideas submitted by the community, discuss potential partnerships with other entities, and make a recommendation to the school board as to the proposed scope of the renovation project, including areas to be remodeled and areas to potentially demolish. It is expected that their recommendation will be ready for the Board by late January-early February.

Updates on the existing high school as well as the new high school project will continue to be posted on the school district website (www.isd761.org > new high school).

Business Support for New High School Continues

We are pleased to announce that Home Federal Savings Bank, has joined many other local businesses in support of the new high school for Owatonna.

Home Federal Savings Bank will donate $50,000 to be used toward the new high school, demonstrating their continued support of the Owatonna Public Schools and the community of Owatonna. In addition, Home Federal Savings Bank will be placing two ATM machines in the new high school at no expense to the district.

“We are committed to giving back to our communities and are proud to support the Owatonna Public Schools. The education of our young people and preparing them for their future, will help ensure the continued success of Owatonna and its businesses,” stated Brad Vettrus, Market President, Home Federal Savings Bank.

“We continue to be thankful for the generosity of our local businesses and amazed by the pride felt by all who live and work within our community,” stated Jeff Elstad, Superintendent of Owatonna Public School District.

The new high school construction is well underway and making remarkable progress. To learn more about the construction project, click here.

Big picture

State of the District

On Monday, November 8, Superintendent Jeff Elstad will release his second annual State of the District presentation to give the community an update on our school district's latest progress and where we are headed. You'll learn of some of the challenges and successes of the past year, what this year's focus is for our students, and exciting things to come.

To watch the State of the District address from the comfort of your home, please visit the school district's website: www.isd761.org on Monday, November 8 for the link to the video.

Minnesota Student Survey

The Minnesota Department of Education in partnership with the Departments of Health, Human Services, Corrections and Public Safety will be administering the Minnesota Student Survey (MSS) in 2022. Click here for more information on the Minnesota Student Survey.

Owatonna Public Schools will participate in the 2022 MSS in March. The survey will be administered to students in grades 5, 8, 9, and 11 in March. The survey is voluntary and responses are anonymous. Parents or guardians will have the right to opt their child out of participation before survey administration. You can find our Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) Notification here on our website under Student Privacy -> Surveys.

World's Best Workforce Annual Meeting

On Monday, November 22 at 5:00 pm the World's Best Workforce annual meeting will be held at Owatonna High School in the Small Group Forum (across from the gym). This meeting is an invitation to hear a district status report and focused action steps as to how the district is addressing these goal areas set by the Minnesota Legislature:

  1. All children are ready for school.
  2. All third-graders can read at grade level.
  3. All racial and economic achievement gaps between students are closed.
  4. All students are ready for career and college.
  5. All students graduate from high school.

Learn more about our strategic plan and directions, and view our World's Best Workforce annual report by visiting our school district dashboard found at www.isd761.org > Our District > District Dashboard.

Note: The Monday, November 22 school board meeting will immediately follow the World's Best Workforce meeting.

COVID At-Home Tests for Students

While we had all hoped that the pandemic would be in a different phase this school year, the unseen benefit is that we know what steps to take to minimize the spread in our schools and protect in-person learning.

Our number one goal is to help ensure a safe and healthy school year for all our students and educators. While we are employing several mitigation strategies such as masking recommendations, social distancing when feasible, and sanitizing, COVID-19 testing will play a critical role in our efforts to keep students in their classrooms and participating in extracurricular activities. The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) have improved their first-in-the-nation statewide COVID-19 testing program with new testing resources and we are committed to using every tool at our disposal.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) have given districts and schools the flexibility to develop a COVID-19 testing plan that fits our school community. We are in the process of ordering the BinaxNOW OTS At-Home Tests for symptomatic students to use at home. BinaxNOW Over-the-Counter (OTC) At-Home test is an individual, diagnostic, rapid antigen COVID-19 test recommended for symptomatic students that utilizes a nasal swab. Results are available within 15 minutes of processing. This out-of-school testing program is intended to provide quick access to testing if a student develops symptoms and to help prevent further spread.

This out-of-school testing program is intended to provide quick access to testing if a student develops symptoms. If students experience any symptoms before they come to school or participate in an extracurricular activity, they should stay home and use the test provided by the school district, or get a test from one of Minnesota's free community testing sites or through their health care provider.

Students who wish to use the at-home test from the district may pick up a test from the school nurse's office, or a parent can contact their school's nurse to request a test to pick up. At this time, we have received a limited supply of the BinaxNOW test, but we should be receiving our full allotment in the near future.

We are Hiring!

We need your help! Owatonna Public Schools has found it increasingly challenging to recruit candidates, especially in the following positions:

  • Substitute Teachers (4-year degree required)

  • Special Education Paraprofessionals

  • Custodians

  • School-Aged Care Assistants

  • Nutrition Services Staff

  • MORE!

Why join our ISD761 team?

  • Make a difference for kids in your community

  • Chance to work near home

  • Personal and professional growth opportunities

  • Competitive wages

  • On the job training

Please apply today or help us bring new talent to Owatonna Public Schools by referring applicants to our team. More information on open positions can be found on the school district website: www.isd761.org/careers.

Inclement Weather and School Closing Reminders


When decisions are made to alter the school day or cancel it due to inclement weather, every effort is made to communicate that decision to parents in a timely manner through our school messenger system, the website, and local radio and TV stations.

Parents can choose to receive notifications via text message, phone call, email, and/or parent portal inbox messages. To help us contact households efficiently, be sure to update home, work and/or cellphone information in the Infinite Campus Parent Portal, and verify that the appropriate boxes are checked to receive notifications. This will ensure that you automatically receive information about weather-related school closures in a timely manner.

Other ways to stay informed:

  • Visit the website: www.isd761.org
  • Check local TV stations: KSTP- 5, KMSP FOX 9, WCCO, KEYC TV, KTTC, KAAL
  • Listen to local radio stations: KOWZ, KRFO/KAT KOUNTRY 105, KDHL

Holiday Celebration Recommendations from the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently provided recommendations to safely enjoy holiday traditions, minimize COVID-19 risk, and keep your family and friends safe. Their recommendations include:

  • Protecting those not yet eligible for vaccination such as young children by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated
  • Wearing masks in public indoor settings
  • Choosing safer travel options
  • Wearing a mask on public transportation

To read more about their guidance, click here or visit www.cdc.gov.

Purchase Activity Tickets Online

This year, activity tickets are sold electronically through Hometown Ticketing. Click here to purchase tickets. Once there, scroll down and click on the event for which you need tickets - football, volleyball, fall play, etc. You may also purchase a ticket for your child electronically and then text or email the QR code to them, or you can print it and give them the printout. Electronic tickets through Hometown Ticketing is the new and preferred way to purchase game/event tickets.

Learn More

Click here for the activity pass rates.

To purchase activity passes or event tickets, click here.

Activities office phone number: 507-444-8988

Apply for Benefits

Breakfast and lunch meals are free to all students again this school year. However, we ask that all families continue to complete an Application for Educational Benefits to determine if your children are eligible for other benefits, such as reduced rates for activity fees and Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits. These applications also help provide critical funding for educational interventions, school social workers and counselors, and instructional materials. Visit isd761.org/district-services/nutrition-services and click the “Application for Educational Benefits” tab on the left. Paper copies are available at the District Office. Applications may be submitted any time throughout the school year.

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!

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