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Keeping Kids First: Our Legacy for the Future At-Risk or At-Resilient: How Do We See Our Students? Two Student School Board Members Rise to the Top to Earn MSBA Scholarship

Volume 63, No. 1

DE 20 SIG 10 NE Su Ke RS O mme ep F M r S ing INN em Kid ESO inar s F TA’S Edit irs FUT ion t UR E:

July-August 2010

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Calendar J U LY 2 0 1 0 4 .............Independence Day (no meetings) 5 .............Independence Day Observed (no meetings)



STRAIGHT TALK Bob Meeks, MSBA Executive Director

PRESIDENT’S COLUMN Jackie Magnuson, MSBA President

6 .............Labor Day (no meetings)


ASK MSBA Greg Abbott, MSBA Director of Communications

Articles 8

SEPTEMBER 2010 OCTOBER 2010 1 .............Last Day for Submitting Legislative Resolutions 3-5 ..........MASA Fall Conference 7 .............MSBA Insurance Trust Annual Meeting 7-8 ..........MSBA Board of Directors’ Meeting 7-8 ..........MAEOP Conference 11 ...........Columbus Day Observed (no meetings unless declared not a school holiday) 21-22 ......Education Minnesota Conference

C O N T E N T S J U LY / AU G U S T 2 0 1 0

5 6 24 31

4 .............MSBA Board of Directors’ Meeting 4 .............MSBA Insurance Trust Meeting 4 .............MSBA School District Liquid Asset Fund Plus Meeting 4 .............MSBA Phase I & II Combination 4 .............MSBA Summer Seminar Early Birds 5-6 ..........MSBA Summer Seminar 10 ...........Primary Election Day (if required – no meetings or activities 6 p.m.- 8 p.m.)










The MSBA Journal thanks the students of Waseca Public Schools for sharing their art with us in this issue. COVER ART: Janae Spies




OFFICERS President: Jackie Magnuson, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan President-Elect: Kent Thiesse, Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial DISTRICT DIRECTORS District 1: Kathy Green, Austin District 2: Jodi Sapp, Mankato Area District 3: Daniel Zimansky, Tracy Area District 4: Carol Bomben, Eden Prairie District 5: Marilynn Forsberg, Spring Lake Park District 6: Kevin Donovan, Mahtomedi District 7: Roz Peterson, Lakeville Area District 8: Elona Street-Stewart, St. Paul District 9: Karen Kirschner, Mora District 10: Nancy Dashner, Frazee-Vergas District 11: Walter Hautala, Mesabi East District 12: Gary Lee, Fertile-Beltrami STAFF Bob Meeks: Executive Director Barbara Lynn: Executive Assistant/Director of Board Operations John Sylvester: Deputy Executive Director Tiffany Rodning: Deputy Executive Director Greg Abbott: Director of Communications Denise Drill: Director of Financial/MSBAIT Services Amy Fullenkamp-Taylor: Associate Director of Management Services Sandy Gundlach: Director of School Board Services Bill Kautt: Associate Director of Management Services Grace Keliher: Director of Governmental Relations Katie Klanderud: Director of Board Development Bruce Lombard: Associate Director of Communications Bob Lowe: Director of Management Services Kelly Martell: Director of Technology Cathy Miller: Director of Legal and Policy Services Sue Munsterman: MSBA Advertising Kirk Schneidawind: Associate Director of Governmental Relations Mike Torkelson: Elections/Management Services Specialist The MSBA Journal (USPS 352-220) is published bimonthly by the Minnesota School Boards Association, 1900 West Jefferson Avenue, St. Peter, Minnesota 56082. Telephone 507-934-2450. Call MSBA office for subscription rates. (Opinions expressed in the Journal are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent MSBA policy.)

Quotes of Note captures some of the more interesting statements MSBA staff have read in local, state and national publications.

Turn-around Schools List “My board said our reputation is worth more than a million dollars. [We were] willing to forego it to say, ‘Hey, we are not a persistently lowperforming school.’” Butterfield-Odin Superintendent Lisa Shellum


“Look at what’s gone on—is there a need for reform in the teaching profession? I think the answer is absolutely yes. Minnesota has a long history of high achievement, but has also had a history of an ongoing and pervasive achievement gap. And we need to, as a state, address that achievement gap—what we identify as more traditional students and those that may be of a different race or color. There has to be a common agreement on how we’re going to address that. I hope the leaders in this state put together an agenda that helps Minnesota advance teacher quality as opposed to becoming too political about it.” Marshall Superintendent Klint Willert

Getting Help to Work Together as a Board “It’s long overdue. My hope is we can work toward getting along better and reduce some tension, and find where our common ground lies. I look forward to it.” Duluth School Board Member Tom Kasper

One issue behind the racial achievement gap “Some of it is not seeing themselves in the literature, or not reading literature and experiencing math situations common to their living experiences. So we try to go through curriculum with a different lens.” Minnesota Teacher of the Year Ryan Vernosh


Race to the Top proposal turned down

Test scores for ranking schools “Ironically the same year our school was declared a failing school as a result of not making AYP on the MCAs, we were recognized nationally by Standard and Poors for significantly closing the achievement gap. We even received a visit from NBC Nightly News. “This story is not unique. Drilling deeper into student achievement data, we have learned that state test scores don’t always provide the whole story about what is going on in a school.” Michelle Langenfeld, Associate Superintendent with the Anoka-Hennepin School District

Going to a four-day school week “It was either save money going to a four-day week, or start cutting those very important electives that make a high school what it is—band, music, tech education, woodshop. We feel that’s every bit as important to the high school experience as math, science and English.” Onamia Superintendent John Varner




It’s that time of the year again. Time to vote to join YOUR MSBA! We are a membership organization that has as its Mission: “Support, Promote, and Enhance the Work of Public School Boards and Public Education.”

Bob Meeks MSBA Executive Director

You will be a better school board member if you are actively involved in your Association.

We believe the advantages of belonging to the MSBA are so strong that you have a need to be a member school board. The returns you get from being a member far outweigh your MSBA membership dues. Our board of directors have kept expenses at the Association low by freezing all staff salaries for the second year in a row, cutting back on out-of-state travel and finding many ways to be more efficient—such as more e-mail notifications, instead of paper.

But our board kept all of the free services MSBA now offers, such as: • Free on-call assistance on matters ranging from Minnesota’s open meeting law to district personnel issues to school board and levy elections to everything else that has an impact on public education. • Our free Public Education Employee Relations Network (PEERNet) that gives districts access to a gold mine of information on salaries, benefits and district size. • Our free Leadership Conference, which gives you the opportunity to access outstanding school board member training and gather necessary information from excellent speakers. Your MSBA is the only state school boards association in the nation that does not charge a registration/attendance fee for this conference. • MSBA’s award-winning Journal magazine, Boardcaster newsletter, daily News Clipping Service, Capitol Compass, Lobby Line, and other publications—all FREE.

• Your MSBA lobbies at the state and federal levels year-round, not just during the legislative session. Our contract negotiations training for school board members and district administrators is second to none, and only MSBA offers master agreement analysis. And our Phase training programs for school board members give you the knowledge you need to run effective boards that focus on student achievement. • MSBA also offers member districts access to cost-effective insurance products and services offered through MSBA Insurance Trust-endorsed insurers. The Minnesota School District Liquid Access Fund Plus investment program provides member districts with the overall highest return on your invested revenue. Many districts recoup the cost of dues simply by participating in MSDLAF’s outstanding portfolio. You also have the opportunity to access MSBAsponsored programs such as PaySchools, Power-Card, the MSBA Playground Compliance Program, the School Board Member Service Manual, and many other fine and nationally recognized services and programs. I could go on and on listing reasons for you to vote to become a member school board of YOUR MSBA. We are here to serve you and to assist you in your local governance obligation to provide public education in your school district. MSBA needs you as much as you need MSBA. We need you as a member and we need you as a participant! You will be a better school board member if you are actively involved in your Association. Together we can work to assure that every public school student has access to excellent educational opportunities!




A Jackie Magnuson MSBA President

Raising the bar is a good slogan. But to make it happen, it takes a lot of hard work. And it must be raised for everyone— students, teachers, board members, superintendents and parents.



As board members, we have heard endless research about how raising expectations of our students leads to higher achievement. One of our Summer Seminar speakers this year, Tommy Watson, is a prime example of how a teacher—and a school—raised the bar for him. His success shows how it works.

haven’t had an evaluation of your superintendent or don’t set goals for your superintendent, it is hard for both sides to raise the bar. A constructive evaluation, with specific goals that can be monitored, goes a long way in raising the bar for the superintendent and the entire district.

But what I don’t hear much about is raising the bar for everyone else. It would make the job of our school boards much easier if EVERYONE raised their bar—higher expectations for teachers, higher expectations for board members, raising the bar on superintendents and (brace yourself) raising the bar for parents.

What might be hardest is raising the bar for parents. I’ve seen too many PTA surveys that show parental involvement in schools has plummeted. And the few parents left at some PTAs have been turned into year-round fund-raising machines. Probably the biggest sign that the bar needs to be raised for parents is a quick look around the room at a PTA or PTO meeting. How many fathers are there? Those same PTA surveys that show parental involvement is falling also show the few members who are still active are mostly mothers. There are some things schools can do to raise the bar for parents: stop using the PTO for a fundraising group and start turning it back into a learning group where you can talk about school issues with parents. Let them know what you are facing and how they can help. Schools can also make an effort by offering volunteer positions that parents can fill in the school.

I’ll start with school board members. The best way that you can keep the bar raised is to continue to be a lifelong learner. By simply attending learning conferences like Summer Seminar, the Leadership Conference and MSBA’s series of Phase trainings, you are raising your own bar to a high-performing board. If your board is constantly struggling with 4-3 votes and bickering, you need to raise your bar. There are many inservices where MSBA will come right to your board room to help you to work together. And training will help you to see that raising the bar means looking at the “big picture” of student achievement by working on a board as a TEAM. It means learning that a board majority determines direction for your district, not individual board members. And sabotaging board direction (because you may not agree with the majority) only hurts kids. Raising the bar starts at the top with board members who continue to learn and continue to find ways to work together despite differences. Raising the bar for superintendents falls into what your board expectations and goals are for your single most important employee: the superintendent. If you

But raising the bar also has to start in the home. Read to your children. Make sure they are caught up on homework. Go to parent-teacher conferences. And if your child needs help, just ask. Many schools and teachers will bend over backward to help. Raising the bar is a good slogan. But to make it happen, it takes a lot of hard work. And it must be raised for everyone—students, teachers, board members, superintendents and parents. Only then will achievement improve. And it will be so much easier with everyone working to raise their own bar.

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Keeping Kids First:

Our Legacy for the Future

Jacie Hoehn


I have been thinking a lot lately about children—my children and the children we see in society. My oldest just graduated from high school and is quickly on his way to the halls of college academia. I am so proud of him and look so forward to what his future holds.

Renée Rongen



As I look back on his life and his experience with the education community, I am so grateful for teachers who spent the extra five minutes teaching him about life—along with reading, writing and mathematics. I am so thankful for his school administrators who created a balanced and vibrant environment for his learning. I am

honored to know that the school board and various administrators for the school system in our area placed an incredibly high value on his holistic educational experience. I am so thankful for a team of people who worked collectively with me to get him over the educational “finish line.” Above all though, I am thankful for each one of these people who have played a role in his education because they all were focused on the same thing: creating a learning experience that allowed him to grow and flourish as a well-rounded young man with a great future ahead of him. Each one of these people has

understood one key fact: Our children are our legacy for the future; they are our hope and our certainty that things will be better in the future.

Back to the Basics In the midst of political changes and funding problems, mandatory testing and performance-based evaluations, and the ongoing challenges that each of you face on a daily basis, I want to challenge you to “get back to the basics.” Getting back to the basics is ultimately allowing your work to be driven by the simple statement I made in the previous paragraph: Our children are our legacy for the future! When you allow your work to be driven by this simple statement, you realize why you got involved with children in the first place! At some point in your career you decided that it was profoundly meaningful to make a difference in the lives of children because doing so would make the world a better place. I wonder, though, if over time you have become discouraged by the current state of affairs in education today. Are you discouraged by the fact that school boards, superintendents, administrators, teachers, and staff do not hold the same authority in the lives of children that was once held? Do you constantly feel like you have to do more with less and there is no end to the problems on the horizon? Do you feel like so many people are involved in the educational system and communications are breaking down more frequently and becoming more difficult? Have you thought about the legislative issues that seem to be driving your work in directions you would not have chosen? With all of this on your mind, how in the world can I suggest that you “get back to the basics?” Am I crazy?

Tips to Build Your Legacy for the Future Some folks would say I am crazy, others would say that I have a salient ability to boil concepts down and invite people to a more simple way of thinking. So here goes my attempt to encourage you to get back to the basics and remember that our children are our legacy for the future! 1. In your daily interactions with fellow board members, administrators, staff people, teachers, parents, community members, take five minutes more to really hear! We have lost the ability to really listen to each other because we are mired in our own perceptions. Margaret Wheatley, noted social consultant and thought leader, challenges us to turn to one another and have simple conversations that restore hope in the future. I agree with Wheatley about the power of conversations and the restorative nature of truly listening to each other! When we listen, we find commonality with others which allows us to drive toward a legacy of hope! Furthermore, if you have the privilege of working directly with our children, realize that five extra minutes to hear the young person well might just change his life!

2. As you approach your work, I want to encourage you to look at all the significant gifts each person brings to the table. Each one of us thinks differently, sees the world through different lenses, and offers insights and different perspectives. Regardless of your position and responsibilities, if you take a step back to honor the unique gifts of others, the future might just change! 3. I want to invite you to join together to drive our children throughout society to get out of their comfort zones! Let’s look for ways to create small moments of success for each and every student because success breeds future success! Let’s look for every way to praise kids and to praise each other for the unique gifts we all possess. Let’s honor each person in the “education” mix as vital to the overall success of our legacy! 4. Finally, I want to challenge you to think about how we can collectively “color outside of the lines.” We all know the education systems in America are in the process of being redefined! So if we are all investing in the legacy of our future—our children—we might need to draw the lines differently.

One person can make a difference I was recently thinking about a person who made the boldest difference in my educational experience. It was Ms. Tykeson, my first grade teacher, who understood her role in my life the best. She listened, challenged me, explored my gifts, and created moments of success! Ms. Tykeson knew one fundamental fact about all people: We all have the need to be known, loved, accepted, and given the opportunity to make a difference in the world. Regardless of your position, you too can make a difference in the lives of all people in your communities, especially the children, if you remember the simple needs of all people that Ms. Tykeson understood so well! Thank you for joining me and all the others around the country in keeping kids first, because our kids are our legacy for the future! Thank you for the great work you do; and above all, thank you for making a difference in our schools and communities! By the way, thanks, too, for allowing me to share a few simple thoughts about getting back to the basics! Renée Rongen is an inspirational speaker and author. She is the keynote speaker for MSBA’s Summer Seminar Aug. 5-6 at the Northland Inn in Brooklyn Park.



At-Risk or At-Resilient: How do we see our students?

Sara Vasquez


The term “At-risk” implies that an individual or student is at risk of failure when faced with various challenges or obstacles. On the flip side, the term “Atresilient,” which I have coined, implies that when that same individual or student is faced with challenges or obstacles they will have the ability to bounce back and overcome any adversity in their lives (at school and at home). The way that we see our students will guide our level of

Tommy Watson 10


expectations, our behavior towards them, and ultimately our policies and procedures for ALL students. In 1992, I arrived on the campus of the University of Minnesota to play football and attend college after surviving tremendous obstacles back home in Denver. I had grown up in a situation where my parents were drug addicts and professional shoplifters. These behaviors of my parents resulted in my siblings and I being shuffled in and out of crisis centers, foster homes, motel rooms, and the homes of friends and family members as kids. When I stepped on to the campus of the University of Minnesota, the institution had never had a student-athlete come to the school with my circumstances. At the time of my arrival, my mother was in prison; my father was in prison; my younger brother was in juvenile prison; my grandmother (my last legal guardian) was in a nursing home; my older brother was back on the streets of Denver involved in gangs; my oldest sister was on the streets of Denver addicted to crack cocaine; my second oldest was in foster care in Iowa; my younger sister was in foster care with my aunt; between my 11th and 12th grade years of school I had lived in five different locations; I had spent the last six months of my senior year homeless—sleeping on the living room floor of a family friend; and finally I arrived at the University of Minnesota with no home address back in Denver. How did I survive and make it to college? My making it to college had a lot to do with the educators in my life during high school. These educators had high expectations for me and my inner city comrades being bused out to the suburban high school. These high expectations manifested themselves through the combination of HIGH CARE and HIGH DEMAND. The staff at Mullen High School never viewed me as being at-risk. In essence, they viewed me as being at-resilient, a person who could bounce back from all the challenges that I was faced with at the time.

What does research tell us about educator expectations? • Our expectations become self-fulfilling prophecy. • High expectations always trump circumstances.

How can school board members create a spirit of high expectations for ALL students? • Begin with honest self-assessment of your own beliefs about ALL students. • Any doubts about student abilities should be intervened with counter-stories. (Example: If an individual had doubts about the achievement ability of African-American boys, a great counter-story to that belief would involve reading and studying a book such as mine—A Face of Courage—that provides evidence that African-American boys in poverty can go on to achieve academically.) • Set a Vision of High Expectations for your district (creating a community-wide, shared vision). • Establish District Goals that speak High Expectations (having increased student achievement at the core of district work and defining what increased student achievement will look like). • Develop Policies of High Expectations (developing and adopting policies that influence teaching practices and the culture for learning). • Allocate Resources that support High Expectations (creating the conditions and directing resources for accelerating improvement). • Assure Accountability that supports High Expectations (holding the system accountable to high and equitable achievement for all students and for closing all achievement gaps). (Source: Washington State School Director’s Association, Guiding Principles) Tommy Watson is principal at Palmer Lake Elementary School in Brooklyn Park. For more information on how these school board functions can help establish high expectations in your district and to hear more of his story, see his keynote speech at the Minnesota School Board Association’s Summer Seminar Aug. 5-6 at the Northland Inn in Brooklyn Park. You can also purchase A Face of Courage: The Tommy Watson Story at or

• Our expectations consciously and unconsciously control our behavior. • Students live up to or down to educator expectations. • Students most impacted by low expectations: Black/Latino, male, low-income, special education. • Educators with low expectations blame school failure on student behavior, poverty, lack of support from administration, inferior facilities, uninvolved parents, and bureaucracy at the district level.



TWO STUDENT SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS RISE TO THE TOP TO EARN MSBA SCHOLARSHIP Duluth East, Cass Lake-Bena high schoolers awarded $3,000 for college


Alex Roesler

This year’s MSBA Student School Board Member Scholarship recipients are Kai Fei and Tanwaporn Ohl. You think the names are unique? Wait until you meet the students themselves.

Bruce Lombard

Both students amassed an absurdly long list of outstanding achievements—student council, extracurricular activities, political engagement and academic teams, etc.—and are natural-born leaders that served their respective schools with humility and respect.

Fei is a recent graduate of Duluth East High School. In his scholarship application, he compiled two full pages of extracurricular activities and academic honors. Fei was president of the National Honor Society, a National Merit Scholar, a two-time member of the All-State Math Team, a founding member of Duluth’s Students for the Future organization and a qualifier for the National Forensics League national tournament. 12


And that’s just for starters. Not to mention Fei is a gifted musician (he’s played the violin for nine years and performed with the Duluth Youth Symphony Orchestra for the past four years) and also takes the time to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Not afraid of getting out of his comfort zone, Fei said he volunteered to help others and to learn about another side of his community from a different perspective. Fei also wanted to see his school from another perspective, too, last year when he joined the Duluth school board as a student representative. “I thought it might be interesting to find out what’s going on with the school board,” he said. “I had no idea what the school board was all about, so I thought it would be a great learning opportunity.” Ohl, a graduate of Cass Lake-Bena High School, was drawn to her school board service from a desire to advocate on behalf of the student body.

“I have always been involved in student council (since elementary school),” Ohl said. “I really wanted the opportunity to have a voice in things that go on in the school, and I thought that (joining the school board) was the best option.” Ohl’s seemingly never-ending list of accomplishments reveals: a two-time student council president, a three-time qualifier and a two-time medalist at the state speech tournament, co-captain of the speech team, senior class treasurer and a four-time “A” Honor Roll student. This is just a snapshot. A quick count on her transcript results in a sum of at least 20 different activities. Ohl was able to maintain this full slate of extracurriculars while earning a grade point average of 3.74—while working a part-time job. Ohl said extracurricular activities help students develop socializing skills. She can attest—she insists being on the school speech team gave her more confidence. “If I hadn’t been in speech, speaking in public would be awkward right now,” she said. Fei seconded that notion. “Without all these extracurricular activities I might not be on the school board,” he said. “Without the speech program, I wouldn’t have even thought of coming to the school board. Every single one of (those) activities gives you a different experience outside of the classroom. The people you meet (in extracurricular activities) are different from your classroom experience.”

Ohl cited a concrete example of Impact Aid’s virtues. A fleet of school buses return to the high school after 5 p.m. to pick up students participating in after-school activities. “(Those students) probably couldn’t be in activities if they didn’t have a ride home,” she said. “It’s those extra things that you don’t really notice. If they were gone you would really feel it.” With a bill circulating that could endanger Impact Aid, Ohl delivered some crucial testimony before a host of Minnesota politicians—Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. representatives James Obertstar and Collin Peterson.

On board

“I think getting to hear it from a student’s perspective makes it a little more real,” Ohl said.

Both Fei and Ohl touted the importance of school board service. Fei said he was surprised to learn how much the school board does for his district’s schools.

Cass Lake-Bena school board member Bethany Norenberg praised Ohl’s efforts in Washington. She is a “confident ambassador of our school district’s student body and shared information with elected officials on the importance of what (Impact Aid) funding has done for our district,” Norenberg wrote in a letter of recommendation.

“The school board decides a lot about what the schools do,” he said. “Everything the principals have to do eventually goes back to the school board. So if you want to change something about your school, go to your school board.” Ohl said it is really important for students to have a say in what goes on in schools. “I think it is a really cool way for the people who are running the school to really get a view of the students’ needs and wants,” she said. “Especially from a diverse school district such as Cass Lake.” Ohl’s biggest contribution to her board and school came during a trip to Washington, D.C., to support the federal Impact Aid law at a conference. Impact Aid provides financial assistance to school districts with concentrations of children who reside on American Indian lands and other locations (e.g. military bases, low-rent housing properties). Cass Lake-Bena High School is located on the Leech Lake Reservation. Sixty-seven percent of the school’s students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. “(Impact Aid) is almost necessary to my high school’s survival,” Ohl wrote in an essay. “Impact Aid allows us, as a school with extremely high poverty and low graduation rates, to focus on helping students learn and take steps toward graduation. Before this trip, I never knew how much Impact Aid affects our school district and just how much we need it.”

Fei made an impact of his own in his attempt to help with his school district’s long-range facilities plan. The plan called for closing several school buildings (including one of the high schools), building some new schools and remodeling current facilities. Duluth school board member Judy Seliga-Punyko said Fei provided a unique perspective and was fully engaged in the architectural design and instructional programming for the facilities plan. “Although implementation of the plan has been a contentious and sometimes boisterous and angry process, Kai’s vision of creating a student group has helped the adults keep perspective of what was really important.” That student group is called Students for the Future. “One of the things I wanted to do was get students more involved,” Fei said. “A few friends and I started Students for the Future to try to get students more involved. We organized such things by just informing students about school board meetings.” Fei also helped organize a forum for the November 2009 school board election. “We put up a student-run forum JULY/AUGUST 2010



Fei said he was inspired by his board shortly into his student-representative tenure to do something for his fellow students. “The board talked about how to improve students,” he said. “A lot of the times they talked about teachers and teacher training. So I thought we should improve how students can help students. At Duluth East, we had several tutoring programs going on. I thought maybe we should combine all of them and advertise. I think the results are pretty positive.”

College-bound where seven of the eight candidates came. The students wrote the questions and we asked the questions,” he said. Ohl said the toughest issue she observed her board dealing with was teacher negotiations.

Fei, who maintained a 4.0 grade point average while taking a very rigorous course load during his high school career, is taking that “gentlemanly grace” with him to Harvard University in the fall.

“The meetings go pretty long sometimes,” she said. “It was really intense. I love my teachers, but after being around the board I felt like I shouldn’t pick a side.”

Fei said he is very excited about his opportunity at the Ivy League school, yet acknowledges the growth that came from serving on the school board.

When asked if there was any aspect of his school board service that surprised him, Fei said he was astonished by the amount of details the school board dealt with. “Every month I would get the monthly packets that the board members get and the amount of information is incredible,” he said. Ohl said she didn’t anticipate that her board would take public comments into consideration on issues. “The board doesn’t always agree (with the public) but they do really listen to them and talk about it,” she said. She also didn’t expect the number of committees the board breaks into to accomplish tasks. “There are so many committees. It’s a lot more work than I thought it would be,” she said. Ohl served on the district’s superintendent search committee with a few other student representatives. (Cass Lake-Bena’s current superintendent, Carl Remmers, is retiring following the 2010-11 school year.) “(The committee) was interesting. I feel that we got our needs across (to the search consultant firm),” she said. Cass Lake-Bena school board member Steve Howard wrote in a letter of recommendation that he’s always been impressed with Ohl’s skills as a student representative. “She has consistently displayed maturity and respect when presenting difficult issues to our board,” he wrote.


Duluth assistant superintendent Joseph Hill said Fei takes on being “cloaked with recognition in a style that is unassuming and with gentlemanly grace.”


“I hope more (students) get to do this because it is a lot of fun,” Fei said. “Sometimes it’s a little timeconsuming but it is totally worth it.” Ohl, who will attend Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., also said she recommends other students should join the school board because it was such a great experience for her. Along with serving alongside the other board members, she counted the trip to D.C. as the highlight of her service. “The opportunity to go to Washington, D.C., and meet with politicians was unbelievable,” she said. However, when asked if they would be willing to serve on a school board again, in an elected capacity wherever they end up residing in the future, both scholarship winners were playfully noncommittal. “Right now, no,” Fei said with a laugh. “But I would probably serve my community in some other way.” Ohl, also with a smile, gave a “maybe.” The MSBA Student School Board Member Scholarship is a $3,000 award given to two high school seniors who serve on their district’s school board. Last year, the first MSBA Scholarship was awarded to Ethan Lang (Hopkins High School, now attending Boston University) and Kendra Lynn (Cambridge-Isanti High School, now attending Winona State University). Bruce Lombard is MSBA’s Associate Director of Communications. You can reach him at

You need guidance. We give direction. Providing Over 20 Years of Service to Schools.

Focusing on all areas of School Law Labor Negotiations and Employment Law School Business Affairs • Special Education Construction and Land Acquisition • Investigations 300 U.S. Trust Building • 730 Second Avenue S. • Minneapolis, MN 55402 Phone: (612) 339-0060 • Fax: (612) 339-0038 •



MSBA to offer Superintendent SeArch ServiceS selecting and employing a new superintendent is the single most important decision a school board will likely make Josh Bulfer

Sandy Gundlach


MSBA has nearly 90 years of experience working with Minnesota school board members in a variety of areas. For many years MSBA’s in-district superintendent search workshop provided an opportunity for school board members to learn about the superintendent search process. Later this year, MSBA will also offer a full superintendent search service to help boards with the single most important decision a school board will likely make.

MSBA’s mission of supporting, promoting, and enhancing the work of public school boards and public education includes services designed to help school boards find a new district leader. School boards are the entity legally charged with governing a district. An effective school board sets the direction for the district by establishing and articulating a district vision statement, goals, and outcomes that help the school board monitor school district performance and evaluate success. To achieve the vision, effective boards select and employ one person—the superintendent—to lead and manage the district, and they hold the superintendent accountable for district performance and results. So, selecting and employing a new superintendent is important. Minnesota law requires districts maintaining a classified secondary school to employ a superintendent. The law authorizes the school board to employ a superintendent and enter into an employment contract for up to three years. The superintendent is responsible for everything that happens in the district on a 24/7 basis, so 16


when a superintendent vacancy occurs, school boards recognize that finding a new leader is a big responsibility. School boards quickly learn that hiring a superintendent requires time, thoughtful planning, and a sound recruitment and employment process and procedure. Unlike human resource professionals, school board members’ regular work responsibilities likely do not require them to make employee-related recruitment and hiring decisions. School boards often look to other groups and individuals for assistance navigating the intricacies of a superintendent search. Beginning October 2010, MSBA will add superintendent search services to its list of offerings relative to the area of employing a superintendent. MSBA’s superintendent search services will include a “Basic Search” and an “Advanced Search.” Members will also have the option to purchase additional services to meet the unique search-related needs of their districts regardless of the package selected. As always, staff will be available to answer your superintendent searchrelated questions whether or not the school board chooses to hire MSBA to conduct the search. MSBA looks forward to providing this new service option for its members. More information about MSBA’s search services will be available in coming months. Sandy Gundlach is the MSBA Director of School Board Member Services. To contact her about this article, you can write to

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Award-winning schools bring in parents to help bring out best in students


In May, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the Education Department’s proposal to increase the amount of federal dollars set aside for family involvement in schools. Under this new proposal, districts would be required to use 2 percent of federal Title I dollars to carry out family engagement activities.

Bruce Lombard

However, regardless of government mandates, several Minnesota schools had already made family involvement a priority. Last fall, four state schools— Woodland Elementary School (Brooklyn Park), Zachary Lane Elementary School (Plymouth), Cologne Academy, and St. Paul Highland Park Elementary School—each received an inaugural “Family-Friendly School” award from the Minnesota Parent Center, MN PIRC (Minnesota’s Parental Information and Resource Center, a project of PACER Center). “It’s a way to recognize a school’s efforts to partner with families,” said Heather Kilgore, program coordinator for the Minnesota Parent Center. “We all know



that children have the best chance for academic success when parents are involved in their education, so honoring schools for work in this area is important.” The Minnesota Parent Center has been sponsoring a parent-involvement awareness week event for the past three years. The event was expanded to a full month in October last year. “One of the activities that we chose to do in that month was to highlight schools identified by parents as being family friendly,” Kilgore said. “We wanted to congratulate schools and be positive about parental involvement because there are so many important things that schools do. Parental involvement is critical to school success, but sometimes not recognized or highlighted as such, with so many things going on.” The award recipients were thrilled with the honor. “Parent involvement is so important to our school,” said Lynn Gluck Peterson, director of the Cologne Academy, the only charter school to receive the award. “That award highlighted our parent involvement and commitment to our school. It was very exciting. We presented the plaque to our school board and let our family community know that we received it.” The award carried a little extra significance for Woodland Elementary School, which opened its doors in 2002. “We’re the newest school in the Osseo Area School District,” said Woodland principal Linda Perdaems. “We’ve worked really hard to build a positive, inclusive school community. I thought it was wonderful recognition of the work the staff and the PTA have done together.” Teresa Vibar, principal of St. Paul Highland Park Elementary School, said she was surprised and honored. “We feel like we do a really good job here to connect with families,” Vibar said. “I know how busy our families are, so knowing a parent took the time to nominate us makes it that much more meaningful.”

CRITERIA The Family-Friendly Schools award pays tribute to schools that make a strong effort to pull parents in to the building. As Vibar mentioned above, it’s the parents who have the ultimate say on who receives this distinction. Kilgore said the Minnesota Parent Center only takes nominations from parents. Among the questions posed to the parent nominators include: (1) Is the school building itself a welcoming and inviting place? (2) How do the adults in the school building greet parents? Are they friendly? (3) How have school policies and practices encouraged parents to be involved? (“When we talk about parental involvement, or schools engaging families, we are really talking about engaging families in children’s learning,” Kilgore noted. “We like to focus on the involvement in learning.”)

(4) Do parents say things like “This school does great things and sends home ideas that I can help (my children) with”? (5) Are written materials and other things sent home helpful and understandable? A small committee comprised of Minnesota Parent Center staff and an advisory board sifted through several nominations before reaching a consensus on the top choices. Four schools were awarded in 2009, but Kilgore said there is no set amount of schools that will be awarded. “If we have seven strong ones, we’ll award seven,” she said.

AN ATTITUDE OF INCLUSIVENESS The leaders of these family-friendly establishments make a conscious effort to make their schools more open to parents. “We really believe it takes a village,” Woodland’s Perdaems said. “Our goal is that every kid will meet growth targets in reading and math (projected by the Northwest Evaluation Association). We can’t do that alone. We have to have parents helping us and working with us. Our whole goal has been to create a ‘stool’ out of the school community (i.e. teachers, parents) to support the students, with student achievement as the focus.” Communication at Woodland starts at the top—Perdaems is a blogger. “I blog once a month to let parents know the good things that are going on in their building,” she said. The teachers do their part with newsletters and a weekly communication with parents. Perdaems also pointed to the school’s use of grade-level “looping” as another key element in forging strong parentteacher relationships. “We ‘loop’ so the students, teachers and families stay together for two years,” she said. “Kids have the same teacher for first and second grade, and then for third and fourth, and then for fifth and sixth. The looping concept really contributes to building that community because teachers work really closely with parents and kids. Every decision (we make) is made because it will positively impact kids and their achievement and social development.” Woodland also offers before- and after-school child-care programs to help accommodate parents’ busy schedules. Before-school programs get rolling as early as 6:30 a.m. and after-school programs run until 6 p.m. Perdaems praised the school’s volunteer coordinator, whose efforts have resulted in more than 10,000 hours of volunteer support this year. “Parents are in the building often; they are invited to be in the building,” Perdaems said. However, Woodland’s community reach extends beyond parents. Perdaems said her school has partnerships with JULY/AUGUST 2010


local businesses like General Mills (which mentors sixth-grade students via e-mail) and Target (which sends 30 volunteers weekly to work with students). “We’ve tried to build a community partnership of parents, businesses … all of us working together to support kids,” Perdaems said. “I think it’s an attitude … an attitude of inclusiveness. We want to create programs that welcome parents instead of shut the door to them.”


Peterson said that parent involvement is one of Cologne Academy’s five founding principles. “Our parent involvement is something that we want to keep alive and vibrant in the community,” Peterson said. “We don’t want to become complacent with our parent involvement. Parent involvement is part of our success. It definitely helps our enrollment because parents are our best advertisers, too.” Peterson said that strong communication was part of their planning. “We send out a lot of communications, we invite parents to come in and be involved,” she said. “Our charter was written by parents. Our school started as a strategic plan of the city of Cologne and quickly became the passion of the parents.” Vibar seconded the importance of communication at Highland Park. “We try to make sure that we are communicating all of our events in multiple forms,” she said. “So it’s not just the teacher newsletters, but it’s a phone call home, it’s the school newsletter, it’s school event-reminder stickers on the kids’ shirts when they go home.” Vibar added that their approach boils down to having teachers and staff who are positive, friendly and passionate about what they do. “Their success is based on the positive relationship they have with each of their students’ families,” she said. Vibar said her Highland Park staff works together to make sure there is a “community feel” for anyone that comes in to their building. “I always try to be out in the hall meeting and greeting, remembering names,” she said. Highland Park offers the personal touch on the phone. Unless there is an extremely heavy volume of calls, the phone system never goes to an automated system during office hours. Vibar and the school secretary take each call themselves. Vibar praised her personnel. “I have a wonderful staff. My secretary does a great job. She knows everybody and who their children are.” Highland Park teachers and staff members are also expected to return all e-mail messages and phone calls within a 24- to 48-hour period. 20


PTA ALL THE WAY Perdaems said an average of 30 people attend Woodland’s PTA meetings, and she welcomes all feedback from the parents, even if it is negative. “I think if you are focused on kids, parents see that; and if you can build that trust and the kids go home with a positive message, I think that feeds into it, too,” she said. “We work collaboratively with our PTA,” Perdaems added. “They sponsor several family/community nights, turkey nights, bingos and cultural nights. They have a broad-based Web distribution list where they communicate with parents on a regular basis regarding PTA events and activities.” Peterson also praised Cologne’s parental organization. “Our parent group, PAVE, does an incredible amount of work for our schools as far as fundraisers and organizing classrooms and getting parents into the classroom,” she said. PAVE coordinates major fundraisers and its members are invited to give their input on such matters as transportation, finance and curriculum committees. “Every parent is invited to be a member, just like any other PTA.” Vibar cited Highland Park’s PTA and site council for their strong contributions. She said her PTA raises close to $40,000 every year to help fund some of the things in the budget the school can no longer afford. The site council is comprised of staff and parents tied to a two-year commitment. The council acts like an advisory board by providing input, feedback and suggestions on issues like enrollment, budget and staffing. The council even includes a community representative (the current one is from Lifetime Fitness).

SCHOOL BOARD SUPPORT Perdaems said her superintendent and school board set the tone for family friendliness at Woodland through the district’s mission statement which reads: “Our mission is to inspire and prepare all students with the confidence, courage and competence to achieve their dreams; contribute to community; and engage in a lifetime of learning.” “We live by that statement,” said Perdaems. “And in order to implement it you have to involve your community.”

Vibar said that while one of the St. Paul School Board’s initiatives is for its schools to be “warm and welcoming,” that was one area that her school already had down pat. “It’s an expectation but it wasn’t the driving force behind what we do at Highland Park,” she said. Peterson said the Cologne board has helped play a key role in their family friendly approach. “They are parents themselves,” she said. “We have five members and four of them are parents (the other is a teacher). They are always at the school and are always reaching out to other parents getting them involved and on subcommittees.”


The Minnesota Parent Center’s Family-Friendly School award is part of a larger event in October — the Minnesota Parent Involvement Month. The MPC organizes this event with co-sponsorship from the Minnesota Department of Education, the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals, the Minnesota Elementary School Principals Association, the Minnesota Association of Administrators of State and Federal Education Programs, the Minnesota School Boards Association, and the Minnesota PTA. For more information on the Minnesota Parent Center, visit Bruce Lombard is MSBA’s Associate Director of Communications. You can reach him at

Kilgore notified parents about the award-nomination process through a mailing list and an electronic newsletter. The Minnesota Parent Center also partnered with the Minnesota PTA and some other parent organizations, and placed fliers in libraries, laundromats and coffee shops. “We work statewide,” she said. “We specifically try to target schools and communities where schools have been identified as being in need of improvement. A lot of those schools are in urban areas, so most of the publicity about the Family-Friendly School award was aimed at the metro area.” Kilgore said she’d like to have more representation in the contest from schools in greater Minnesota. “I know that schools around the state are doing great work,” she said. “We have a parent advisory board that works with us on our own internal planning and developing materials,” Kilgore added. “Those parents are awesome and really great about getting information out in their communities. The parent advisory committee is a volunteer committee that provides us with a strong voice in planning and developing our materials so that we are sure they are relevant to parents.” Kilgore said the campaign for Round 2 is just around the corner. “We will probably start publicizing it in August, and then we will accept nominations through the middle of October,” she said. “We announce the awards the last week in October.” Kilgore adds that the feedback to this program has been extremely positive.

Samantha Meyer

“All the schools that I have been involved with work so hard to involve parents in so many different ways. This award gives them a mechanism for communicating about that,” she said.



Parent Chats strengthen the marriage between the public and the school Shae Neuschwander


Superintendent Paul Vranish is a man married to his wife, and a man married to the people in his Texas school district. All of them. For better or worse. Problem is, he says, most superintendents and school leaders treat their public like a one-night stand.

Greg Abbott

At an MSBA community engagement session earlier this year, Vranish didn’t mince words. “Schools and school leaders do a lot of things very well. But for most of the year schools treat their public like a one-night stand,” he said. School districts are quick to get out into the community and tell the public they l-o-v-e them when they need money for school programs or buildings. But once that levy is passed, the district usually high-tails out of the room, never to be seen again.



“We have to treat our public like a marriage. We have to keep telling them we love them. We ALWAYS have to be honest with them. We have to keep telling them we want them to be in our lives. We have to keep explaining to them what we do and that their comments and feelings are important.” Every day. All year. Not just when districts need money. It is the whole philosophy behind his Parent Chats, a community engagement session aimed at connecting with the people in his district, explaining what is happening in the schools, telling them how they can help out and how the school can help them. As part of every Parent Chat, he showcases student talent. “Having a student performance gets people there,” he said. And so does offering food, child care and a location that people can get to easily. People are greeted at the door and sit at round tables in an informal, friendly set-up. If translators are needed, they are available. Vranish also makes sure to involve a few teachers. “It’s important that the parents know that school staff, especially their teachers, care about their child, so teachers take an active part.” Board members are involved as well. Sometimes they help serve the food. Sometimes they serve up the topic and talk to people about the role of a board member and the role of a superintendent. Districts that say they can’t afford to feed everyone? Vranish hires the school cooks for an extra shift. Door prizes? Yes. One time the district gave away older computers that were being phased out of the computer lab. Tests? Yes, Vranish gives a short test on the topic to see where people are at on an issue. Then, he uses the Parent Chat to squash any of the small-town rumors that float around those issues. “These Parent Chats are a weapon to stop rumors. They work,” he said.

recommended that the board fire the coach, the community was in an uproar. The coach got the public to turn on Vranish. How did that happen? “I didn’t have their trust,” he said. “They didn’t know me. I didn’t make an effort to know them. I had to leave for another job.” That’s when the idea of the Parent Chat began. It included students, parents, employees, teachers, everyone in the community. By having those discussions, he got to know the people in the district, and the people began to trust him. “It’s just like a marriage. You need that trust. When you make a decision and you can’t explain yourself because of data privacy laws, you’re going to need the public to trust that you had a good reason,” he said. That’s the trust he builds by meeting with people at the district’s Parent Chats. He also credits those chats with improving student achievement. He has discussions on how parents can help kids with homework, and what programs are available for non-English speaking students (and their parents) to improve their language skills. It has taken his district from the brink of state takeover to one of the highest-performing school districts in Texas. And their last referendum in 2007 passed with a 60 percent vote without the district even designating what they’d spend the money on. People had trust that the money would be spent wisely. That’s why Vranish feels it is important for all school leaders to have a good marriage with their district. The public, to him, is his second wife. “No matter how long you’re married, you have to keep telling them that you love them. They need to hear it again and again. You have to work at it— just like any commitment you make.” For better. For worse. Every day. Greg Abbott is the Director of Communications for the Minnesota School Boards Association. You can comment on his story by writing to

They work because of trust. His first experience as a superintendent in the hot seat was when he was new to a district and hired a person who claimed to be a former pro athlete as a coach. Later, Vranish found out that the coach never played pro sports, used ineligible players, had illegal practices, had relatives moving to town to play sports, and then was found to have lied on his resume about his work history and certifications. When he



MSBA’s VENDOR DIRECTORY MSBA’s Vendor Directory helps connect school districts with the products and services they need. The directory is always at your fingertips. You’ll find it printed in the back of every Journal magazine as well as on the MSBA Web site at Most listings in the Web version of this directory include a link so you can head instantly to a Web site or e-mail address. The directory includes everything you need to know to contact a company quickly—phone numbers, fax numbers and addresses—in an easy-to-read format. If you have a service or product you would like included in this directory, please contact Sue Munsterman at 507-934-2450 or Actuary Hildi Incorporated (Jill Urdahl) 11800 Singletree Lane, Suite 305 Minneapolis, MN 55344 952-934--5554, Fax 952-934-3027 Van Iwaarden Associates (Jim Van Iwaarden) 10 South Fifth Street, Suite 840 Minneapolis, MN 55402-1010 612-596-5960, Fax 612-596-5999 Architects/Engineers/Facility Planners Architects Rego + Youngquist inc. (Paul Youngquist) 7601 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 200 St. Louis Park, MN 55426 952-544-8941, Fax 952-544-0585 ATS&R Planners/Architects/Engineers (Paul W. Erickson) 8501 Golden Valley Rd., Suite 300 Minneapolis, MN 55427 763-545-3731 Fax 763-525-3289 Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A. (Judith Hoskens) 201 Main Street SE, Suite 325 Minneapolis, MN 55414 612-379-3400, Fax 612-379-4400 DLR Group (Troy W. Miller) 520 Nicollet Mall, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-977-3503, Fax 612-977-3600 GLTArchitects (David Leapaldt) 808 Courthouse Square St. Cloud, MN 56303 320-252-3740, Fax 320-255-0683



ICS Consulting, Inc. (Pat Overom) 5354 Edgewood Drive Mounds View, MN 55112 763-354-2670, Fax 763-780-2866 INSPEC, INC. (Fred King) 5801 Duluth St. Minneapolis, MN 55422 763-546-3434, Fax 763-546-8669 MSBA Playground Compliance Program (in partnership with National Playground Compliance Group, LLC) (Tim Mahoney) PO Box 506 Carlisle, IA 50047 866-345-6774, Fax 515-989-0344 Paulsen Architects (Bryan Paulsen) 209 S. Second Street, Suite 201 Mankato, MN 56001 507-388-9811, Fax 507-388-1751 Perkins + Will (Steve Miller) 84 10th Street S., Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55403 612-851-5094, Fax 612-851-5001 TSP, Inc. (Rick Wessling) 18707 Old Excelsior Blvd. Minneapolis, MN 55345 952-474-3291, Fax 952-474-3928 Wold Architects and Engineers (Scott McQueen) 305 St. Peter Street St. Paul, MN 55102 651-227-7773, Fax 651-223-5646 Athletic Sports Floors/Surfacing MSBA Playground Compliance Program (in partnership with National Playground Compliance Group, LLC) (Tim Mahoney) PO Box 506 Carlisle, IA 50047 866-345-6774, Fax 515-989-0344

Attorneys Kennedy & Graven Chartered (Neil Simmons) 200 South Sixth Street, Suite 470 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-337-9300, Fax 612-337-9310 Knutson, Flynn & Deans, P.A. (Thomas S. Deans) 1155 Centre Pointe Dr., Suite 10 Mendota Heights, MN 55120 651-222-2811, Fax 651-225-0600 Pemberton, Sorlie, Rufer & Kershner, PLLP (Mike Rengel) 110 N. Mill Fergus Falls, MN 56537 218-736-5493, Fax 218-736-3950 Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A. (Kevin J. Rupp) 730 2nd Ave. S., Suite 300 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-339-0060, Fax 612-339-0038 Construction Mgmt. & Products Bossardt Corporation (John Bossardt) 8300 Norman Center Drive, Suite 770 Minneapolis, MN 55437 952-831-5408 or 800-290-0119 Fax 952-831-1268 Contegrity Group, Inc. (Pete Filippi) 101 1st Street SE Little Falls, MN 56345 320-632-1940, Fax 320-632-2810 Donlar Construction Company (Jon Kainz) 550 Shoreview Park Road Shoreview, MN 55126 651-227-0631, Fax 651-227-0132 ICS Consulting, Inc. (Pat Overom) 5354 Edgewood Drive Mounds View, MN 55112 763-354-2670, Fax 763-780-2866

Kraus-Anderson Construction Co. (Mark Phillips) PO Box 158 Circle Pines, MN 55014 763-786-7711, Fax 763-786-2650 MSBA Playground Compliance Program (in partnership with National Playground Compliance Group, LLC) (Tim Mahoney) PO Box 506 Carlisle, IA 50047 866-345-6774, Fax 515-989-0344 Educational Programs/Services Minnesota State Academies for the Deaf and Blind (Linda Mitchell) 615 Olof Hanson Dr. PO Box 308 Faribault, MN 55021-0308 800-657-3996/507-384-6602 Fax 507-332-5528 Employee Assistance Program (EAP) The Sand Creek Group, Ltd. (Gretchen M. Stein) 610 N. Main Street, #200 Stillwater, MN 55082 651-430-3383, Fax 651-430-9753 Energy Solutions Johnson Controls, Inc. (Arif Quraishi) 2605 Fernbrook Lane N., Suite T Plymouth, MN 55447 763-585-5043, Fax 763-566-2208 Financial Management MSBA-Sponsored Administration and Compliance Service (A&C Service) Administration and Compliance Service (Paige McNeal, Educators Benefit Consultants, LLC) 888-507-6053/763-552-6053 Fax 763-552-6055 MSBA-Sponsored Lease Purchase Program Tax Exempt Lease Purchase Program (Mary Webster, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC) 800-835-2265, ext. 73110 612-667-3110 Fax 612-316-3309

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Technology PaySchools (Patrick Ricci) 6000 Grand Ave. Des Moines, IA 50312 281-545-1957, Fax 515-243-4992 Transportation Hoglund Bus Co., Inc. (Jason Anderson) PO Box 249 Monticello, MN 55362 763-271-8750 North Central Bus & Equipment (Sandy Ethen) 2629 Clearwater Road South St. Cloud, MN 56301 320-257-1209, Fax 320-252-3561 Telin Transportation Group (Jamie Romfo) 14990 Industry Avenue Becker, MN 55308 866-287-7278, Fax 763-262-3332

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A Year of Major Changes for the Election Process

I By Greg Abbott MSBA Director of Communications

Q: I’ve heard there were many changes in • If your district is in Statutory Operating election law this year. What are some of the Debt, you can hold an operating levy major ones board members need to be referendum on a different date, as long aware of? as you have approval from the Commissioner of Education. As a rule of A: You’re right. Three different elections thumb, the usual 30-day blackout dates bills passed, affecting everything from will apply before and after a state primary when you file for elections to when you or general election. And a 20-day canvass your elections. Below are just a few blackout period applies before and after changes you should note: township elections (if you have townships • Minnesota’s primary date has moved up in your district). from September to the second Tuesday in • If your district has a mail ballot election, August. you can hold your operating levy • Filing dates have moved up to May 18referendum on a different date. But June 1 for districts subject to the primary; remember: Unless you are in Statutory Aug. 3-17 for districts not subject to the Operating Debt, you only get ONE levy primary. referendum per calendar year. So if your mail ballot fails in February, you can’t • Canvassing dates are now more specific. come back with another vote in No longer can you canvass votes the November. You’ll have to wait until the night of the election. For primaries, you next calendar year. must canvass on the Friday after the primary. For the General Election, you Q: As a district, what can we do to support must canvass between the third and 10th our Vote Yes committee? day after the election. A: Basically, a school district should not • Districts must now have Absentee Ballot spend any of its taxpayer money on Vote Boards to accept, reject or send Yes campaigns. Two Attorney Generals’ replacement ballots. opinions govern this area. A 1957 opinion states that districts may spend a reasonable • Counties must let school districts use amount of school district funds to voting equipment such as Automark impartially place information before the machines, if those machines were voters. But a 1966 opinion clarifies that purchased using federal money. those school district funds cannot be used There are dozens of other changes that to promote an affirmative vote on the affect your school district election official, proposal. So in summary, you can give your especially those who run elections in odd Yes group the same information you give to years. So make sure to call MSBA or everyone else. But don’t let your Yes group contact the Secretary of State’s office or use district stationary, the school copier, county auditor for new timelines and school phones or any district services or school election handbooks. equipment that are funded through taxpayer dollars. Vote Yes committees must Q: If our district is doing an operating levy raise and spend private funds. For a referendum, is there any other date we can thorough brochure explaining the go out for a vote, except for the General referendum campaign law, go to our Election day? website home page and click the School A: All operating levy referendums must be Boards & Referenda brochure link under on General Election day. However, there the “Leading Resources” area. are two exceptions:





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Keeping Kids First

Register today for MSBA’s 2010 Summer Seminar!

August 5-6 Northland Inn, Brooklyn Park

“Designers of Minnesota’s Future: Keeping Kids First” Our great slate of keynote speakers includes:

Summer Seminar


August 5-6 Early Bird Session & Phase I-II Combo August 4 Location: Northland Inn, Brooklyn Park

• Reneé Rongen, president of Reneé Rongen & Associates, LLC, presenting “Keeping Kids First: Our Legacy for the Future.” • Peter Hutchinson, president of the Minnesota Bush Foundation, presenting “The Bush Foundation’s New Teacher Preparation and Mentoring.” • Tommy Watson, principal of Palmer Lake Elementary in Brooklyn Park, presenting “A Mile-High Miracle: The Power of High Educational Expectations.” • Kent Pekel, executive director of the College Readiness Consortium at the University of Minnesota, presenting “Every Student is College Material.” Plus several informative workshops, a legislative update and more!

V i si t M SBA ’ s W eb si t e at www.mnmsba.or g t o r egi st er. Call 800-324-4459 for more information.

MSBA Journal: July-August 2010  

The Journal Magazine for July-August 2010 from the Minnesota School Boards Assocition

MSBA Journal: July-August 2010  

The Journal Magazine for July-August 2010 from the Minnesota School Boards Assocition