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May-June 2013

Two Years of iLearning Putting Students First Senioritis – An Idea from Another State to Try in Your District

Volume 65, No. 6

School district Employee Healthcare Costs Save 14%

2        MSBA Journal

MAY 2013

1–3 ���������MASBO Annual Conference 16 �����������Minnesota School District Liquid Asset Fund Plus Meeting 16–17 �����MSBA Board of Directors’ Annual Meeting 27 �����������Memorial Day (no meetings)

Divisions 4 5 6 28 31


STRAIGHT TALK Bob Meeks, MSBA Executive Director P RESIDENT’S COLUMN Walter Hautala, MSBA President VENDOR DIRECTORY Pierre Productions & Promotions, Inc.  SK MSBA A Cathy Miller, Director of Legal and Policy Services

JUNE 2013 13 �����������MSBA Insurance Trust Meeting

J ul Y 2 0 1 3 4 �������������Independence Day (no meetings)

A u g ust 2 0 1 3 4 �������������Summer Seminar Early Bird Workshops 4 �������������MSBA Insurance Trust Meeting 4 �������������MSBA Board of Directors’ Meeting 5 �������������MSBA Summer Seminar 6 �������������MSBA Phase I & II Combination 6 �������������Charter School Training 6 �������������Minnesota School District Liquid Asset Fund Plus Meeting 13 �����������Primary Election Day (no meetings or activities 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.)

Articles 8 16 18 22 24

Two Years of iLearning Dave Eisenmann Putting Students First Lara Gerhardson

Senioritis – an idea from another state   to try in your district Bruce Lombard A Hidden Jewel Bruce Lombard School Safety Lessons Learned:   From Cleveland to Newtown Stephen Sroka

The MSBA Journal thanks the students of Henning Public School for sharing their art in this issue.

May/June 2013        3

C O N T E N T S M A y / J u ne 2 0 1 3     V O L U M E 6 5 , N U M B E R 6


Officers President: Walter Hautala, Mesabi East Past President: Kent Thiesse, Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial NSBA Representative: Jackie Magnuson, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan District Directors District 1: Kathy Green, Austin District 2: Jodi Sapp, Mankato Area District 3: Linden Olson, Worthington District 4: Betsy Anderson, Hopkins District 5: Missy Lee, Columbia Heights 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: Michael Domin, Crosby-Ironton District 11: Tim Riordan, Virginia District 12: Ann Long Voelkner, Bemidji Area District 13: Deborah Pauly, Jordan Staff Bob Meeks: Executive Director Kelly Martell: Executive Assistant/Director of Board Operations Kirk Schneidawind: Deputy Executive Director John Sylvester: Deputy Executive Director Tiffany Rodning: Deputy Executive Director Greg Abbott: Director of Communications Denise Dittrich: Associate Director of Governmental Relations Denise Drill: Director of Financial/MSBAIT Services Amy Fullenkamp-Taylor: Associate Director of Management Services Sandy Gundlach: Director of School Board Services Barb Hoffman: Administrative Assistant to Governmental Relations/Finance/Meeting Coordinator Sue Honetschlager: Administrative Assistant to Management, Legal and Policy Services/MSBAIT Donn Jenson: Computer and Information Systems Manager Bill Kautt: Associate Director of Management Services Grace Keliher: Director of Governmental Relations Katie Klanderud: Director of Board Development Gary Lee: Associate Director of Management Services Bruce Lombard: Associate Director of Communications Bob Lowe: Director of Management Services Cathy Miller: Director of Legal and Policy Services Sue Munsterman: Administrative Assistant to Board Development/Communications Sandi Ostermann: Administrative Assistant to Association Services and Finance/Receptionist Tim Roberts: Production Room Manager 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.

All-day kindergarten “(Providing free all-day kindergarten) is something we as a board have wanted to do for a number of years. Administration has diligently worked to build a sustainable financial plan that will support the rich curricular opportunities for our students.” Lori Swanson, White Bear Lake Area Board Member

“We think we’ll get up to about 85 percent (of school districts offering all-day kindergarten) with the incentive to do so. Most school districts want to do it, it’s just a matter of revenue. They see the value.” Brenda Cassellius, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education

Making tough personnel cuts to balance the budget “We value our employees. We care for them. We try to look after them as good management should. However, when faced with a decision about what’s best for kids in terms of providing good opportunities, at what point do we say we need to let employees go to provide those opportunities for kids?” Dan Frazier, Litchfield Superintendent

“I believe I can speak for the entire board when I say that nobody takes joy in this.” Jason Engbrecht, Faribault School Board Chair

Potential unfunded bullying law mandate “We struggle to find dollars to fill the needs that we have within the district and this may be one more thing that we have to fit in that budget.” Kelly Smith, Belle Plaine Superintendent

The special education-funding squeeze “It’s a 40-year mandate and (the U.S. Congress hasn’t) done anything about it in 40 years. It’s not going to happen.” Jim Freihammer, Wabasha-Kellogg Superintendent, on Congress’ 1975 promise to fund 40 percent of each state’s excess costs of educating students with disabilities

“For every dollar that has to go to special education that’s unfunded, it takes away from another student.” Roz Peterson, Lakeville Area School Board Member

“We are at the tipping point. Look at these costs. How do we do this anymore?” Judy Seliga Punyko, Duluth School Board Member

Straight T alk T hanks for the memories


The time has come to say good-bye. I will become a former MSBA staff member effective July 1, 2013. Looking back, when I arrived for my first day of MSBA employment on November 1, 1975, I had no idea what was ahead of me, including 25 years of lobbying on your behalf and 10 years of serving as your MSBA Executive Director.

Bob Meeks MSBA Executive Director

One of my favorite statements while testifying on educationrelated legislation is: “It is for the kids.”

I loved working for you at the Capitol. It was easy to remember that the decisions that were made at the Legislature had a major impact on our students, parents, and citizens throughout Minnesota’s public school system. One of my favorite statements while testifying on education-related legislation is: “It is for the kids.” During my time working for you, my two favorite meetings were: (1) the Delegate Assembly where school board members from across the state established MSBA’s legislative positions; and (2) the question-and-answer session I have with school board chairs annually at the Leadership Conference.

You have given me the opportunity to work with thousands of school board members, hundreds of legislators, and eight governors. I have also had the distinct pleasure of working with the very hard-working members of MSBA’s Board of Directors and highly competent staff members since 1975. What I am trying to say is, you and your predecessors have allowed me to have the best job in Minnesota! Growing up in Walker, graduating from what was then the Walker-Hackensack school district, graduating from Bemidji State College (now University), and spending seven years as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves gave me the background and drive to do my best working for the MSBA.  While I am sad to leave the MSBA, my wife Annette, daughter Christine, and I enter a new chapter in our lives. Never will I forget that “It is for the kids,” and my thoughts and actions will be in support of our public school students, boards, and school districts.  As one of my favorite comedians, Bob Hope, sang: “Thanks for the memories.”

If there is a favorite program that was established during the time I served as your executive director, it would be the MSBA Student School Board Member Scholarship program that I asked the MSBA Board to establish. A $3,000 scholarship is a great help to two of our student school board members when they leave the school district to pursue a higher education.

May/June 2013        5

President’s Column Increasing the graduation rate is a


solid focus for the state There is no better part of being a school board member than seeing the students walk across the stage to get their diplomas at the end of the year. Unfortunately, for almost a quarter of our students, we don’t see them at graduation. The latest state statistics show 23 percent of students fail to graduate—either dropping out at age 16 or failing to meet the graduation standards at their high school. Research shows that those who drop out are more likely to be unemployed or end up in poverty.

Walter Hautala MSBA President

Dropouts earn much less, are less likely to ever pursue postsecondary education, and are less likely to be contributing members to their communities.

6        MSBA Journal

That’s why it was good to hear that Minnesota is making graduation a focus by joining GradMinnesota, a collaborative effort to increase Minnesota’s graduation rate to at least 80 percent by 2020, with a goal of achieving a 90 percent graduation rate. Most of the effort will target closing the state’s achievement gap. Because when you look at our overall 77 percent graduation rate, it masks graduation rates that hover as low as 50 percent for various groups of students such as blacks, those with Limited English Proficiency or students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The Minnesota Department of Education already has some initiatives to increase graduation rates, and those initiatives begin even before kindergarten. Much research has found that simply getting kids to a third-grade reading level by the end of third grade vastly improves the chances of any individual student graduating. So the state has developed a comprehensive B–12

Literacy Plan and Early Learning Standards. There are also initiatives to get information to middle school students about college opportunities and career and technical education assistance. All of these efforts complement the work done by the Dropout Prevention Center, which uses resources to help keep kids in school. There is much urgency to make sure all of our students are prepared to enter some type of higher education—whether it is a four-year college or a two-year vocational program. A study by the Alliance for Excellent Education in 2009 showed that each student who does not graduate costs Minnesota about $260,000 in lost revenue over the course of their lifetime. Dropouts earn much less, are less likely to ever pursue postsecondary education, and are less likely to be contributing members to their communities. To keep Minnesota strong in the future, we can’t let nearly a quarter of our students fall by the wayside. We need everyone welltrained for a strong workforce that can help our state in the future. I’ve read how one district had 53 of 54 students graduate in four years (a 98 percent rate). I’d like to see that be the norm in our state, not the exception. It would make my job as a school board member even more rewarding than it already is.

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1:1 iPads with 1,600 Secondary Students: Two Years of Accelerating Learning


The changing landscape of the world’s information to digital form will require today’s student to have a different set of skills than what was required just a decade ago. Students must be equipped with not just the three R’s, but also 21st-century skills of problem solving, critical thinking, communication and technological literacy. Future graduates will need to be able to quickly find, synthesize and communicate information and collaborate with colleagues—not just in their own office, but within a global community of colleagues and customers. To that end, in September 2011, Dave Eisenmann Minnetonka Public Schools launched a 1:1 program using the Apple iPad to create a seamless and dynamic educational experience for students. The program uses digital curriculum materials, student collaboration tools, and individualized instruction in all subject areas with the goal of enhancing student learning. A pilot group was initially selected to assure we could successfully manage the devices in our environment and that we were able to adequately support, train and adopt digital materials as a part of the curriculum review process. The pilot group included 16 teachers and half the ninth-grade students (approximately 350), representing a broad range of academic abilities. Each student was given an iPad and their schedules were planned so their math, science, and English classmates were all in the pilot as well. Students brought their devices to all classes, and teachers of non-pilot courses were encouraged to explore ways students could use iPads in their classes and curriculum. The goals of the iPad pilot were to: · Enhance and accelerate learning · Leverage existing and emerging technology for individualizing instruction · Promote collaboration, increasing student engagement · Strengthen the 21st-century skills necessary for future student success 8        MSBA Journal

During the second semester, the program was expanded to all 800 ninth-grade students and 53 teachers. Social studies and health classes were added, making the iPad a tool used by all ninth-grade students for two-thirds of their day. At the beginning of the 2012–13 school year, 800 10th-grade students were added, along with another 51 teachers. Minnetonka Public Schools plans to double the size of the iPad program during the 2013–14 school year, totaling more than 3,000 students and more than 200 teachers in grades 8–11 who will be using iPads each day for teaching and learning. Communication Plan to Parents and Students Prior to students receiving iPads, parents are invited to attend information meetings and online webinars to learn about the program and ask questions. Throughout the year, classes, e-mail newsletters and a website ( gGmJu) of tips are provided to staff and parents, educating them about how kids are using technology and how adults can best talk to students about safety. A Parents’ Guide to Student Use of Technology ( section is included in the program materials and on the iPad website to ensure parents have information and tools about cyber safety, including resources for installing filters, setting expectations, limiting screen time, and more.

Naturally, an essential component for a successful 1:1 iPad program is to ensure students receive the proper instruction and essential information they need to create a seamless and dynamic educational experience. To do this, we created a series of nine instructional student videos, which combine humor with the details found in our Acceptable Use Policy, as well as all the rules and guidelines for the iPad program ( These videos teach students how to use and care for their iPad properly (, identify the difference between educational and personal use of the tool (http://, and instruct them on what to do if the iPad is damaged or lost ( We also created instructional videos to help students understand how to use the video and audio recording capabilities appropriately and safely. Prior to receiving their iPad, teachers also discussed with students the importance of being a good digital citizen who uses technology safely and responsibly ( In addition to instruction about program rules and guidelines, students are also instructed how to use the tools and applications. For this training, students spend two class periods learning how to set up their iPad and Google account, subscribe to their Schoology course calendar, and practice going through the steps of the digital cycle. This cycle is used by students to access files and assignments May/June 2013        9

1:1 iPads with 1,600 Secondary Students: Two Years of Accelerating Learning

from instructors, edit and alter the files and return them through cloud storage back to teachers in a Schoology dropbox. Video tutorials for all of these steps are available to students ( B0MXQ). All students, teachers and administrators are enrolled in an iPad group in Schoology which allows for communication and collaboration between everyone in the iPad program. Students and staff regularly post questions, tips and app suggestions. The entire group works together to help one another. Students often offer the solutions to technical issues and post ideas for program improvements. Students have also formed an iPad advisory group that meets with the high school principal and director of instructional technology. Professional Development for Teachers and Students Teachers use both face-to-face learning sessions and online collaboration tools to research and share curricular applications. A continual online discussion through Schoology allows teachers to suggest apps, share best practices, and brainstorm ideas for further integration of iPads into their curriculum. During face-to-face training, teachers focus on working with the advanced iPad functionalities, learning to create formative assessments, using the best features of their Schoology websites, creating collaborative activities with Google Docs, investigating educational applications, and brainstorming best practices in classroom management. Our overall instructional goal is to model best practices and integrate 1:1 technology into teaching instead of just focusing on the device itself. An important component of the instructional technology training is to help teachers understand the different stages of integration that occur when using technology with scales like S.A.M.R. (substitution, augmentation, modification, or redefinition of learning). Teachers spend time sharing what they have done in the past and are encouraged to take these lessons to the next level, amplifying the use of technology and transforming their instruction. Time is provided to allow teachers the opportunity to observe colleagues during their work day, so they are able to see others teaching the same curriculum, as well as observe other subject areas and how technology is utilized. The instructional technology department makes a concentrated effort to be in each iPad teacher’s classroom at least once a week, directly observing what is going well, gathering ideas for future instructional needs, and 10        MSBA Journal

being there to help the teachers as soon as they need it. On occasion, the instructional technology team teaches classes so teachers are able to see how things can be done and then model these best practices themselves. Assessment and Evaluation Assessment and evaluation are two critical components of the iPad program (http://vimeo. com/32874739). Regular surveys are distributed to all students and parents in the iPad program to gather feedback about how the iPads are engaging students, aiding collaboration and communication efforts, impacting student organization, and affecting the learning experience as a whole—from both the student and parent perspectives. The student achievement and survey data are shared with the Minnetonka School Board for a formal review and recommendation at each stage in the program. Classroom teachers regularly administer formative assessments, using Google Forms or Schoology and Skyward online assessments, to gauge individual students’ understanding and progress and to differentiate instruction. Teachers have increased the frequencies of formative assessment and often administer open-ended response questions to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional methods and seek students’ opinions and ideas, as well as suggestions for improvement. Beyond the feedback from teachers, parents and students, an iPad administrative team meets regularly to assess the work of the program. The administrative team is led by the assistant superintendent for instruction and is comprised of the high school principals, the executive director of technology, the director of instructional technology, the executive director of communications, instructional technology support teachers, and the on-site media specialist at the high school. These meetings address questions that arise regarding the iPad program and give guidance to questions and next steps. Measurable Results in Student Achievement Minnetonka’s iPad pilot showed measurable results with student achievement. In the first quarter aggregate data for all freshmen students, there were fewer Ds in most classes and fewer Fs in all core courses (English, math and science) for students in the iPad pilot. Additionally, many of our iPad pilot teachers taught some courses with the iPad and some without. In most courses where the teacher

com/32875508). Students, teachers, and parents all report increased benefits from the convenience and ability to quickly ask questions, seek help, and receive answers via e-mail or online course communication tools on the iPad.

Examples of Use, Changes in Pedagogy: Correlation to NETS•S: Creativity and Innovation is the same, students performed better with the iPad than those students with the same teacher who do not have an iPad. Students are performing better in these classes indicated by either more As and Bs or fewer Ds and Fs. Many of our teachers attribute the increase in student achievement to the increase in formative assessments in their iPad classes. Minnetonka teachers focus on formative assessments (practice homework and quizzes) to assess student learning throughout a lesson. Research is clear that when teachers use frequent formative assessments, they are better able to gauge student learning, reteach material if needed, or move on if everyone understands. The iPad tools combined with online formative assessments allow teachers to more efficiently administer and grade formative assessments, allowing more timely intervention if a student doesn’t understand a concept. In addition to student achievement data, Minnetonka is collecting data on how the iPad impacts student organization ( Tracking late and missing assignment data shows that in most iPad courses, students have fewer missing assignments. Students attribute this to their ability to stay better organized with all of their files in one place. Students complete and submit homework and do research on one device. When students take the iPad home, they can readily access their texts, homework, teachers’ notes and all papers they have previously kept in multiple binders and folders. Students report that using iPads has increased their organizational skills, making learning more efficient. When students are reading a novel, they can read and take notes directly on the iPad. When students are ready to study, they simply review the notes on the iPad. In addition, their assignments and due dates are pushed directly to their calendar on the iPad, ensuring all students know when tests, quizzes and assignments are scheduled. Using iPads also keeps students more engaged and inspires collaboration with other students and their teachers ( The result is a strong sense of community in the classroom, driving further knowledge and understanding. Seventy-seven percent of students in the pilot reported that they collaborate daily with others in school using technology. Student-teacher communication has also increased dramatically with iPads (https://vimeo.

Each student iPad has art and drawing apps installed, as well as iMovie, allowing students to use these tools to express and model their individual learning like never before in our instructional environment. Students also use recording apps like ShowMe to record audio and video on their iPad screens to demonstrate their knowledge, as well as reteach critical concepts to one another. Students have created movies on everything from Newton’s Laws to literature topics and book reviews. They use tools on their iPads to explain a wide variety of topics, from the processes within government to the steps they used to solve a math problem. Students also use the iPad camera features to record steps for scientific experiments and illustrate processes. Communication and Collaboration All students, teachers and staff in the program are enrolled in the iPad program group in Schoology, which allows for communication and collaboration among everyone in the iPad pilot. Teachers report an increase in student engagement, as well as a stronger sense of community in the classroom. With the introduction of the new instructional technology, teachers have also noted that students are collaborating virtually with a more diverse group of peers and that the collaboration is happening more regularly. In parent surveys and interviews, parents report a high level of engagement spilling over into the area of homework—students who previously kept homework hidden or out of parental oversight are showing new levels of interest and engagement that are observable at home. Teachers and parents both report a higher level of overall communication within the pilot, often supported by the fact that much of the instructional content is now available online for parents and therefore accessible to students outside of school, in an “anywhere, anytime” environment. In some cases, teachers report that communication with students has improved to such a high level that the need for parent communication (often related to locating missing assignments, etc.) has actually decreased. In the classroom, communication and collaboration using technology are in daily practice. Each student has

May/June 2013        11

1:1 iPads with 1,600 Secondary Students: Two Years of Accelerating Learning

a Google e-mail account and uses Google’s Apps for Education such as collaborative documents, spreadsheets and Google sites. Many classroom activities have moved from individual tasks to collaborative work, now that each student has a device to access the same file simultaneously and make edits. Often groups will collaboratively solve problems and all contribute to a master document that compiles all of their collective knowledge and learning about a topic. Classes have also started creating a “back channel” discussion which reflects students’ thoughts, ideas and questions about a topic during instruction. Research and Information Fluency With so many resources now at their fingertips, students are researching information for classes on a daily basis. Teachers are reporting that students look up terminology and definitions, as well as further investigate content, more so than they have ever seen prior to the 1:1 iPad program. Teachers have discovered students are now routinely adding to class discussions and contributing knowledge they have just acquired by accessing and researching information online with their iPads during class. Students are reporting that they investigate topics they don’t understand since the resources are so easily accessible. Students are also researching more about topics, going beyond the basic requirements for assignments and learning. Social studies teachers have found the iPad to be a wonderful tool to bring current events and information about topics directly into classroom discussions. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making Science teachers are using tools and apps on the iPad for students to collect data during experiments, as well as move the experiment outside of the laboratory and into their homes to collect additional data. Math teachers are reporting that students are investigating functions and formulas more thoroughly now that they can manipulate the size of graphs with their fingers to analyze slopes of lines, change the angles within shapes, and more. Teachers are noticing increased student understanding reflected in assessment scores, which they attribute to a better understanding of problems due to the ability to critically think and analyze like never before possible. Examples of students identifying these skills are evident in our survey results. Seventy-nine percent

12        MSBA Journal

of students in our iPad program indicate that in classes where technology is used they apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills daily or weekly. In addition, 95 percent of students in the iPad program indicate that they can apply learning in new ways when using technology in school. Digital Citizenship One of the benefits of using Schoology as our online e-learning platform is that it creates a model for appropriate use and interactions within a 21st-century social networking environment. Every student and staff member has a Schoology profile, similar to that found on sites like Facebook. Conversations routinely take place about what appropriate interactions are, as well as what responsible, safe and ethical practices should take place in this environment. Due to the increased levels of responsibility required of students working in the open spaces of the Internet, teachers intentionally emphasize online responsibility. Parents report that the impact on student behavior has been positive. Parents also report that the firewalls and protections set up by the district have provided clear parameters for students as they work on their iPads outside of school. Before distributing iPads, teachers also discussed with students the importance of being a good digital citizen who uses technology safely and responsibly ( To learn more about Minnetonka’s 1:1 iPad Project, visit and plan to attend the Second Annual iPad Institute on Friday, June 28, held at Minnetonka High School Author Background Dave Eisenmann, M.A.Ed., has been the director of instructional technology & media services at Minnetonka Public Schools for ten years. To learn more about Minnetonka’s 1:1 iPad Project, go to Also, join Minnetonka schools for the Second Annual iPad Institute on Friday, June 28, held at Minnetonka High School

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Putting Students First Bemidji schools are developing talent for the future with a program that pairs students with adult “success coaches”

• Growing, retaining and attracting talent; • Growing and developing leaders and relationships.

With four months of Students First under his belt, Chad had something he was bursting to say. During the first student session of the 2012–2013 school year, educators asked Lara Gerhardson the “veteran” eighth-graders to explain their experience with the program to new students. Chad’s hand flew into the air and he stretched his body taut to ensure that he was the first one called on. “Yes, Chad?” Chad stood up to face the class and bobbed from side to side gesticulating as he told them, “Well, first you come in and they tell you that you are in Students First and you are like ‘What is this?’ and ‘Why am I here?’ Then you learn stuff about yourself and meet your coach and that is the most amazing thing to ever happen in my life!” I keep those words posted on a corkboard next to my desk. Endorsements come in from coaches and students regularly but this one really struck a chord as I sat observing the class. The enthusiasm coming from Chad stood in direct contrast to himself four months earlier. Four months earlier, he was reticent to speak much or make eye contact. Students First is a community effort to help students reach their full potential by pursuing their Success Plan goals with support from caring adults. Students First has been described as Bemidji’s “moon shot”— an ambitious and innovative plan that has been the brainchild of a “small town with big dreams.” 16        MSBA Journal

Students First was envisioned by members from community groups, such as Bemidji Leads! and Impact 20/20. These citizen action groups are committed to creating goals to strengthen our community. In 2009, Bemidji Leads! held an intensive strategic planning session to establish a new action agenda to present to the community. Three goals emerged that are vital to our rural community’s success: • Creating a culture of innovation; and

m Ranu Ellie


The Beginnings

The Students First Initiative would be aimed at growing and retaining talent through an innovative approach. Secondary school students would develop a plan for success and receive individual attention from a community member in monthly conversations about their goals. The initial program outcomes envisioned for students were: on-time graduation, increased postsecondary enrollment, and a stronger connection to the community. It was an idea that was so exciting that our community decided to take the steps to identify the possibilities and challenges of implementing it. An advisory team was recruited with members representing various sectors—charter and district school administration, teachers, counselors, parents, county government, business, and youth-serving organizations. They discussed research findings and also input gleaned from interviews with various community members who have special expertise in fields such as mentoring, volunteer management, technology, and cultural inclusion. Input from students was also gathered and weighed. A three-year pilot phase of Students First was developed at these meetings. The pilot would serve students at both Bemidji Area Schools and TrekNorth Junior and Senior High Schools. We are currently in the second year of implementation at each of the schools. The first group of seventhgraders entered the program in January 2012 which included the entire seventh-grade class of TrekNorth (21 students) and a randomly selected group of 70 students from Bemidji Middle School. This class of now eighth-graders was joined by 105 new seventhgraders (75 from Bemidji Middle School, 30 from TrekNorth) in January 2013. In contrast to many programs, Students First’s mission is to serve all students and not focus on a particular demographic. There are students who are excelling and others who are struggling, but we believe that all students are best served when they

can identify their unique talents and develop them. From this knowledge, they are able to invest in their futures with goalsetting activities and the creation of Individualized Success Plans.

now off of truancy or that they were in the nurse’s office sick but found out that it was a Students First day and decided to come to work with our strengths educators and success coaches instead of going home. The increasing student engagement is palpable.

How Students First works

Coaches are equally excited by their experiences. Many of them tell us that they believe they are learning just as much as the students are, if not more. They have reported that they feel this is “History in the making! I love being a part of it!” They are also impressed with their student matches and have reported, “My student told me at the last meeting that she worked toward the goal from the goal sheet exercise and she accomplished it! That was rewarding to hear!” and “My student match was great. When I signed up for the program my biggest concern was communicating with my student. My match was a great communicator and our conversations were fun and engaging.”

During the school year, participating students meet with a Students First Strengths Educator one to two times per month to learn about goal-setting while also discussing their strengths. In the eighth grade, they take the Clifton StrengthsExplorer assessment to directly identify their talent themes. Additionally, the students meet with their volunteer community “success coaches” during 40-minute in-school sessions which are facilitated by Students First staff. We have recruited a dynamic group of 180 success coaches that represent a diversity of experience, careers, hobbies, and skills to correspond with the wide range of interests reported by the students. Our coaches are committed, caring adults who are interested in seeing our students and our community succeed. As the number of participants increases so, too, do the important connections within the community. It is a testament to Bemidji’s investment in this initiative that in a town of 13,000, we have been successful at recruiting nearly 100 new coaches in each of the first two years and carry over a small “waiting list” of coaches at the end of each matching phase. Local employers have shown their support by allowing their employees time to participate as success coaches in Students First during the work day. Businesses in the community have donated their services to create a secure website, logo, and promotional materials. Community investment and word of mouth is imperative to our success both now and in the future. Since the initial implementation of Photo by Lara Gerhardson. Students in the Students First in Students First program meet with their success January 2012, we coaches to discuss goal setting and individual have already seen strengths. Success coaches are (from left to right) Nita Fetzer, Wendy Thompson, Megan Richer, positive responses Bob Peters and Genny Lowry. Kelley Hengel, on both qualitative strengths educator, is standing. and quantitative evaluation measures. The power of recognizing each individual student’s strengths has spurred energy and excitement in our students and community as measured by end-of-year interviews and assessments. Students have told us, “I like how you can talk to your coach and get good feedback—that they can help you and it is cool to set goals and achieve them” and “I like the plan that we are making to follow through high school.” They have described their coach matches as “nice and supportive—we have lots in common” and “outstanding … a new person to help me in my life.” We have had students report to us that they are

Increasing Hope Along with the feedback that we receive from surveys and interviews, one of our primary evaluative measures is the Children’s Hope Scale (CHS). In our first four months, we were excited to report an increase in the average CHS score from 27.06 to 27.47. In other new programs, it has been reported that CHS scores often dip slightly in the initial implementation of the program. Students First is distinguishing itself by already showing an increase in the average score of student participants. According to the Gallup Organization, Hope drives attendance, credits earned, and GPA of high school students. Additionally, Hope scores are “more robust predictors of college success than are high school GPA, SAT, and ACT scores.” The pilot phase of Students First has shown that the excitement for both Individual Success Plans and community volunteer success coach recruitment is “catchy.” Students First has received requests from communities across the state of Minnesota and from as far away as California for more information on implementation. Although the program would necessarily have to be tailored to suit the unique needs of each school, it is a program that shows great potential for replication in other schools and communities. There is no doubt that it is a highly ambitious plan—to match each student with a coach means that eventually the program will grow from a pilot group of approximately 100 students and coaches entering the program annually to over 350 being added each year. However, the schools and community have been more than willing to come together to develop models that will allow us to sustain the program as it moves forward. Over the three-year pilot, we will continue to look at where we are making the most impact, how to continue the positive trends, and how to grow. We may not have made it all the way there yet, but some days it seems like the moon is a little closer. Lara Gerhardson is the program coordinator for Students First. For more information about Students First, contact Lara at May/June 2013        17


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School district’s unconventional outreach to senior citizens yields positive results


Community engagement is a vital undertaking for school districts. An open line of communication provides transparency, helps build trust and produces allies. Every district-resident demographic is important, but the continuing “graying of America” has made the senior citizen community the most critical group of them all.

Bruce Lombard

Officials from Chesterfield County Public Schools—located in the state of Virginia—have made this realization. For the past 15 years, they’ve made a concerted effort to reach out to their ever-growing senior population. Out of approximately 145,000 households that make up Chesterfield County, 63 percent of them do not have a child in the school district—and the county’s older population continues to grow at a fast rate. “Senior residents are a critical audience for us,” said Tim Bullis, Chesterfield County Public Schools Director of Community Relations. “With their large numbers, reliability, when it comes to voting and their ability to swing an outcome at the ballot box, they need to understand and see the importance of public education. If they don’t feel invested in public education and understand the benefits as they apply to them, then they are not going to be supportive of our efforts.” The Chesterfield School District (or school division as it’s called in Virginia) is a large one comprised of 62 schools, nearly 60,000 students, and nearly 8,000 full-time employees, with an operating budget of $533 million.

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Keeping the senior community invested in their local schools is first and foremost the right thing to do. No school community is complete without the involvement of its seniors. However, this process is also done out of self-interest—districts need allies in the voting booth if they want to maintain a healthy operating budget come referendum time. “We need to make sure those folks are engaged if we want to go forward with a bond referendum or a building addition,” Bullis said. In addition to the more traditional methods of community engagement the district has utilized over the past decadeplus, school officials have really stepped up their efforts the past four years to engage seniors in fun, unconventional and impactful ways.

Super Senior Prom

Bullis said he and his colleagues are always trying to provide their senior citizens with new opportunities to get involved in their schools and acquainted with the student body in order to showcase what they are doing in the district. However, there are some tried and tested methods that keep senior residents coming back for more. One of these proven opportunities includes the Super Senior Prom. This prom is a popular annual event held each spring (attendance is capped at around 400 senior participants with a waiting list of 100-plus people) that serves as an entertaining way to bring seniors into a local high school. Bullis said the seniors are served hors d’oeuvres and nonalcoholic drinks, made and served by baking and culinary arts students attending the school division’s technical center. They “dance the night away with each other” and sometimes with the student chaperones. “The students do a good job of mingling with the seniors,” he added. “The seniors love it. They love the interaction with the kids.” Such intergenerational interaction is helpful in breaking down barriers. The seniors can see what nice, bright students the district has—and the students can appreciate the elders who built their community and support their schools. Like many of the senior-focused programs the district has in place, Bullis calls this prom a “high-impact, low-cost effort.” The prom is hosted in a school facility, so no cost there. A partnership with the county government’s Senior Advocate Office and the Parks and Recreation Department helps fund the cost of the food prepared by students. The district receives $1,000 from a corporate sponsor to fund the band. Bullis said the district spends less than $500 to conduct the prom.

Senior Passport Program

Chesterfield’s Senior Passport Program represents another popular senior-oriented offering. For the past 10 years, the Passport Program has offered another way for seniors to be invested in their local schools by giving them free admittance into athletic events (except for playoff games) and arts performances. Bullis said seniors appreciate their free admission to Friday night football games the most. The district’s athletic directors had some initial misgivings over this program, fearing this could lead to some lost revenue at the gate. School division leaders reasoned with them, noting that even if there were reduced paid-ticket sales, it would still be a worthwhile investment. Without the support of seniors, any potential operating budget referendums could fail— which could certainly put any of the athletic programs in worse shape should they be in the crosshairs come budgetcutting time. Bullis said the Passport Program gives seniors an opportunity to get out to the schools in a different way and also allows seniors to get some use out of the buildings they helped pay for with their tax dollars.

Senior Idol

Chesterfield’s seniors dance at the prom—and they can sing at the Senior Idol. The district partners with the county’s Senior Advocate Office to stage this “American Idol”-inspired talent competition for singing seniors. The program is just two years old, but is already a big hit. Interest in Senior Idol is so great that the district, like “American Idol,” has to hold auditions for its contestants. The event itself is well-attended—approximately 900 viewers showed up to watch last year. As with the Super Senior Prom, the event has been housed at a school facility. Students are used as hosts and ushers and provide the intermission entertainment. Again, this offers more senior citizen-student interaction, allowing seniors to see students in a positive light. “These events let seniors know what the students are like and what they stand for,” Bullis said.

Senior Ambassador Program

Chesterfield County Public Schools also offers a new Senior Ambassador Program, conducted through a joint partnership with the county government. The Ambassador Program gives seniors a tour of school facilities and shows them how their tax dollars are being May/June 2013        19

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allocated. Bullis said about 20 to 25 seniors at one time take the tour in a school bus. “Invariably, there are one or two people that have never been on the school bus before, so it’s an exciting trip for them,” he said. An average tour usually commences at a high school technical center, where seniors see firsthand that the district isn’t just preparing kids for college, but for the workforce, too, if some students are not interested in college. Also, school officials and teachers discuss how education has changed in the past 50 years—and what has been added and changed regarding curriculum. Then the Ambassador tour makes its way to a K–5 elementary school to demonstrate new ways of instruction in math and the introduction of foreign languages like Chinese. “Some seniors tend to remember how education was back in the 1950s and they may not understand what we are doing now,” Bullis said. The senior tour group then has lunch with the elementary school students. “If the seniors don’t leave the cafeteria with smiles on their faces after eating lunch with the elementary students, we quickly check their pulse,” Bullis joked. The tour wraps up back at the technical center where seniors learn about adult continuing education opportunities for themselves “so they can see ways to continue their own lifelong learning,” Bullis said. He said the only expenses for the Ambassador Program are the lunch and transportation.

Super Senior feedback

In the district’s strategic learning plan, high school students are required to complete community service in order to graduate. Working with seniors is one way for students to fulfill this graduation requirement. Some students log in hours at older-living home facilities. Some of the technical students work as handymen to complete projects (like plumbing repair and HVAC work) at seniors’ residences. “These programs are designed to be mutually beneficial,” Bullis noted. The seniors get free repair work out of it—and more positive interaction with the students—while the students get hands-on working experience.

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The big question: have these senior engagement efforts paid off? The answer is a resounding “yes.” The school district held their last bond referendum in 2004—and it passed with an 87-percent success rate. This is especially impressive when you consider nearly two-thirds of the households didn’t have a direct tie to a child in the district. The district puts out a Citizen Satisfaction Survey every other year. In 2011, 86 percent of those surveyed said the district was a “good or great school district.” The school district has also seen an uptick in volunteer rates and hours—among both its seniors and general district population. Also, Bullis said grades on response cards for all of its programs—including the senior-focused ones—always score high. “The responses are always ‘good to great’ for our programs . . . we have never seen anything rated below a ‘three’ on a one-to-five survey card” (with five being the best). Bullis has made a number of presentations nationwide about their senior programs. He said the first question he was asked at his first presentation was from a school official from a smaller school district: “Our communications team is just one person; how do we do all this?” Bullis said districts big and small can pull off these senior events, stressing the importance of having strong community partners on board to assist. “If you have community partners that can come in and help you out, it won’t take a long time to do,” he said. Bullis said just getting one program under your belt helps lay the groundwork for future events, and then you just build on the same model each year. “It’s not as time-consuming as you might think,” he said. “In a time when we are competing for reduced resources, we have to make sure people understand the value of what we are doing in public education—and that they feel vested and engaged. They are all feel-good activities. People leave with a good, lasting impression of the school, and more often than not their impression of the school is their impression of the school division.” Bruce Lombard is the associate director of communications for the Minnesota School Boards Association. You can reach him at For more information about Chesterfield County Public Schools’ senior-engagement program, contact Tim Bullis at

May/June 2013        21


A Hidden Jewel Membership in the American Schools Foundation Alliance can pay off in a big way for your education foundation


Does your school district need advice and resources in starting or improving an education foundation? Look no further than the Chicago-based American Schools Foundation Alliance (ASFA), which has 271 members (including seven from Minnesota) in 44 states.

Bruce Lombard

ASFA—which launched in October 2009—is a nonprofit membership association for public K–12 school foundations. This organization has three main objectives: (1) to provide a national network for its members, (2) to provide resources to educate foundations on the benefits of alternative revenue streams, and (3) to provide benefits designed to help foundations make more money (through special events, grant funding, saving money through administrative discounts, etc.). Nancy Dye, ASFA’s Executive Director, said school districts interested in creating an education foundation can use ASFA’s Basic Steps Checklist (available online at as a starting point. “This is a checklist of all the different steps to follow to create a school foundation,” Dye said. “Either a community member who is going to spearhead the initiative to create the foundation or a superintendent can use this checklist if a school board decides that a superintendent’s goal is to get a foundation up and running.”

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The benefits ASFA provides its foundation membership with an abundance of benefits. Foremost among them is a list of 90 corporate grant opportunities that are specific to 501(c)(3) organizations for education. “Many of these schools need a foundation’s tax-exempt status to be able to bring the money into their district,” Dye said. “Giving USA has reported in the last few years that about $14 billion was given each year by corporate foundations to not-for-profits. Grants are probably one of the biggest reasons why foundations join ASFA. They don’t have to search for grants—they are on our website.” ASFA can also help school foundations connect with grant writers or consultants if needed. Other benefits include:

comparative study in a 2012 newsletter about different donor software packages and their related costs. The current newsletter is always available for anyone to see, but the online archive is for members only. The newsletters tout alternative revenue streams as well as infrastructure protection.”

Joining ASFA If your school foundation is interested in joining ASFA, visit for an application. Newcomers can apply online and use a credit card, or they can print out an application and mail in a check. If a school foundation’s annual gross revenues are between zero and $100,000, the cost for a one-year membership is $75. If a foundation’s annual gross revenues are more than $100,000, then the membership costs $150. School districts planning to establish a foundation may also join while awaiting the 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service.

• List of 36 successful fundraising ideas: “Not-for-profits sometimes compete with other local not-for-profits for donors’ dollars,” Dye said. “Some of these 36 ideas are very unique in a particular community but they may have worked “If foundations use our resources— somewhere else. Generally these ideas whether it’s from an event or a grant or are very universal—what will work in saving on administrative costs—they can Montana, will work in Minnesota, Indiana get a return on investment and more on or Maine.” One idea Dye cited was the their ASFA membership fee.” “Parade of Pigs 4 Kids” in California. Want to learn even more about school This fundraiser had school kids paint foundations? Dye said ASFA’s next piggy banks and put them in 20 different national conference is scheduled for businesses, an effort that collected $5,000 November 19–20, 2013, in Chicago. “Last in change within five months. “This year’s conference had representatives from fundraiser was not labor-intensive and • District 279 Foundation in 26 different states, including Minnesota,” raised money for foundations in Indiana, Maple Grove Dye said. Texas and Illinois,” Dye added. • Foundation 191 in Burnsville Marie Bilik, Chief Operating Officer for • Foundation for Eden Prairie • Document exchange: If ASFA-member the National School Boards Association Schools foundations are looking to rewrite a (NSBA), serves as an advisor to ASFA’s • H  opkins Education solicitation letter to bring in more donors Board of Directors. Dye said that ASFA Foundation or if they are reviewing their policies (like and NSBA often collaborate and that most • M  ahtomedi Area a conflict of interest policy, for example), of the state school boards associations— Educational Foundation there are sample documents (from other including the Minnesota School Boards • P  artnership Academy members) available for their use. Association—are members. Foundation in Richfield • Discount on school foundation insurance: • The Partnership Plan in “I truly believe that school foundations are “Some foundations mistakenly believe Stillwater the hidden jewels in communities because they are covered under their school they bring many extraordinary educational district policy,” Dye said. “The best opportunities to local students that might advice that I can give them is to check not otherwise exist,” Dye said. with their attorney. One emerging trend is donors filing

Have a question about setting up an education foundation? Ask these ASFA member districts.

lawsuits against not-for-profits and their directors and officers over how donations are managed. This could result in a multifaceted claim involving the foundation that the school district’s policy may not cover, thus putting the foundation’s directors’ and officers’ personal assets at risk.”

Bruce Lombard is the associate director of communications for the Minnesota School Boards Association. You can reach him at For more information about the American Schools Foundation Alliance, visit or contact Nancy Dye at or 312-930-6136.

• Library of archived newsletters: “I get a lot of good feedback on this,” Dye said. “I just had a member from Colorado call the other day asking what donor software I would recommend. We have a consultant that wrote a May/June 2013        23

School Safety Lessons Learned:

From Cleveland to Newtown Stephen Sroka


I dealt with school violence before it was fashionable and funded. To me, any child killed anywhere, anytime, is a huge tragedy. But decades ago, when children were killed in the inner city of Cleveland, you probably never heard about them. When the killings moved to suburbs such as Columbine, they became national news. The Newtown shootings shocked the United States like no other school violence. Now, school violence prevention is front-page news. Working with school safety for more than 30 years, I have tried to help schools and communities keep our youth safe and healthy so that they can learn more and live better. Here are several lessons that I have learned.

School violence can happen anywhere, but not here. After school shootings, I often heard, “I cannot believe that it can happen here.” As we have learned, school violence can happen anywhere. But don’t be surprised after the next tragedy if someone says, “I cannot believe that it can happen here.” Denial is human.

Be prepared, not scared. Schools are not powerless. Awareness, education, and advocacy can help break down the attitude that it can’t happen here. Schools and districts need to have a schoolcommunity emergency plan of action in place for students, staff, and parents. It should be both practiced and proactive. Practice drills are crucial. Denial allows violence to grow unseen. Preparation allows violence to be dealt with as soon as it is seen. Social media has changed how we communicate. Texts, tweets, and Facebook posts, which were not around at the time of the Columbine shootings, now offer instant information—and misinformation. Before problems occur, students need to be part of a dialogue with parents and educators about how schools can responsibly use social media to make schools safer. Social media may prove to be one of the best new tools to help keep our schools safe and parents 24        MSBA Journal

informed, and to encourage students to take ownership of their schools and education.

Bullying is a symptom, and mental health is the issue. Bullying is a hot topic and often is blamed for many of the heinous actions that result in deaths. Bullying is serious and needs to be addressed. Some experts today do not see bullying as a cause, but rather as a symptom of a mental health problem. In fact, bullying is often mentioned as a cause for violence even when it is not, as with the Columbine shooting. Issues such as mental illness, depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, anger, family violence, and substance abuse are often at the root of such destructive behaviors.

Treat the illness, not the symptom. Many professionals would like to provide a comprehensive mental health approach for the schools, families, and community. Perhaps depression screening for all students may prove to be more helpful in identifying those at risk of hurting themselves as well as others. Some experts are now suggesting that teachers be taught mental health first aid to assist those in crisis. As we often see, hurt people hurt people; and the use of mental health professionals, such as school counselors, school social workers, school nurses, school psychologists, and school resource officers may enable us to help people help people.

Building relationships is key. We may need more metal detectors, but we must have more student detectors. The Secret Service found that school shooters usually tell other kids, but not adults. Adults trusted by kids may be given lifesaving information. We need to put a human face on school safety. Teaching to the heart, as well as to the head, to reach the whole child, not only academically, but also to the social, mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual dimensions, will help build a school and community of respect. Social-emotional learning can help students learn in a safe environment. We

often say to police officers that you have a more powerful weapon in your heart than in your holster to make your school safer. School safety needs to be built in, not tacked on. Students respond to people, not programs. You cannot mandate kindness, but you can nurture it by building relationships with communication, collaboration, cultural awareness, and caring. Words can kill, and words can give life. You choose.

When kindness fails, you need to be aggressive, forceful, and effective. An emergency plan of action needs to be in place, practiced, and proactive. Teachers and students should be trained and allowed to practice lockdown drills. Parents need a low-tech and high-tech communication system for responding to school emergencies. Gone are the days of Columbine when police waited for hours to enter the school. Today police and community emergency response teams are trained for active shooter/rapid response, to take out the shooter ASAP.

Healing is personal. Schools need to be prepared to deal with the consequences of violence immediately and long after the incident. Individuals react to grief in a wide range of ways, and there is no best way to grieve. Where some people need to process the grief immediately, others need to be left alone. Grief has no specific timeline for everyone. School safety has entered uncharted waters.

knife; now it is automatic weapons. What will be next? The unthinkable is now doable, and probably unpreventable. The Newtown shootings raise disturbing issues and questions. Controversial approaches, which once would have been considered ridiculous, are now being debated, such as arming teachers and having teachers and students take out the shooter by any means possible. Guns, metal detectors, mental health issues, zero tolerance, and other emotional issues make for complex and difficult decisions. A voice of reason is often lost in the heat of hysteria.

There are no guarantees, only intelligent alternatives. Today we are better prepared to deal with and prevent school violence than we were in the earlier days in Cleveland and Columbine. There still is no 100 percent guarantee that our schools will be free from violence. There are no easy solutions, but there are intelligent alternatives to reduce the risks. It’s time for all schools to explore these alternatives. For some, tomorrow may be too late. © 2013 Stephen R. Sroka, PhD, Lakewood, Ohio. Used with permission.

Stephen Sroka, PhD, is an adjunct assistant professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, and president of Health Education Consultants. He has worked on school violence issues worldwide for more than 30 years. Connect with Sroka on his website, or by e-mail at

When I started working in school safety decades ago, the weapon of choice for school violence was a box cutter or

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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 Website at Most listings in the Web version of this directory include a link so you can head instantly to a Website 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

Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A. (Kevin J. Rupp) 730 2nd Ave. S., Suite 300 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-339-0060, Fax 612-339-0038

ICS Consulting, Inc. (Pat Overom) 5354 Edgewood Drive Mounds View, MN 55112 763-354-2670, Fax 763-780-2866

TSP Architects & Engineers (Troy Miller) 18707 Old Excelsior Blvd. Minneapolis, MN 55345 952-474-3291, Fax 952-474-3928

Construction Mgmt & Consulting 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

Widseth Smith Nolting (Kevin Donnay) 7804 Industrial Park Road Baxter, MN 56425 218-829-5117, Fax 218-829-2517 Wold Architects and Engineers (Vaughn Dierks) 305 St. Peter Street St. Paul, MN 55102 651-227-7773, Fax 651-223-5646

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 Clark Engineering Corporation (Douglas Fell) 621 Lilac Drive North Minneapolis, MN 55422 763-545-9196, Fax 763-541-0056 Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc. (Judith Hoskens) 201 Main Street SE, Suite 325 Minneapolis, MN 55414 612-379-3400, Fax 612-379-4400 DLR Group (Chris Gibbs) 520 Nicollet Mall, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-977-3500, Fax 612-977-3600 GLTArchitects (Evan Larson) 808 Courthouse Square St. Cloud, MN 56303 320-252-3740, Fax 320-255-0683 Hallberg Engineering, Inc. (Rick Lucio) 1750 Commerce Court White Bear Lake, MN 55110 651-748-4386, Fax 651-748-9370

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Kodet Architectural Group, Ltd. (Edward J. Kodet, Jr.) 15 Groveland Terrace Minneapolis, MN 55403 612-377-2737, Fax 612-377-1331 Larson Engineering, Inc. (Michael Murphy) 3524 Labore Road White Bear Lake, MN 55110 651-481-9120, Fax 651-481-9201 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

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 200 South Sixth Street, Suite 470 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-337-9300, Fax 612-337-9310

Paulsen Architects (Bryan Paulsen) 209 South 2nd Street, Suite 201 Mankato, MN 56001 507-388-9811, Fax 507-388-1751

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

Perkins + Will (Steven Miller) 84 10th Street S., Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55403 612-851-5000, Fax 612-851-5001

Pemberton Law Firm (Kristi Hastings) 110 N. Mill Street Fergus Falls, MN 56537 218-736-5493, Fax 218-736-3950

Kraus-Anderson Construction Co. (John Huenink) PO Box 158 Circle Pines, MN 55014 763-792-3616, Fax 763-786-2650 Metz Construction Management & Consulting Services (Deb Metz) 20759 Eastway Road Richmond, MN 56368 612-236-8665 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. Faribault, MN 55021 507-384-6602, Fax 507-332-5528 Renaissance Learning PO Box 8036 Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495 800-338-4204, Fax 877-280-7642 The Minnesota Service Cooperatives (Jeremy Kovash) 1001 East Mouth Faith Avenue Fergus Falls, MN 56537 218-739-3273, Fax 218-739-2459

Energy Solutions Johnson Controls, Inc. (Larry Schmidt) 2605 Fernbrook Lane N. Plymouth, MN 55447 763-585-5148, Fax 763-566-2208 Facilities Maintenance & Supplies Marsden Bldg Maintenance, LLC (Diane Lewis) 1717 University Ave. W. St. Paul, MN 55104 651-523-6756, Fax 651-523-6678 Financial Management Ehlers (Joel Sutter) 3060 Centre Pointe Drive Roseville, MN 55113 651-697-8514, Fax 651-697-8555 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 MNTAAB (MN Tax and Aid Anticipation Borrowing Program) MNTAAB (Patty Heminover, Springsted, Inc.) 800-236-3033/651-223-3058 Fax 651-268-5058 MSBA-Sponsored P-Card (Procurement Card) Program P-Card Program 800-891-7910/314-878-5000 Fax 314-878-5333 MSBA-Sponsored (Jim Sheehan, Ann Thomas) Sheehan: 952-435-0990 Thomas: 952-435-0955

MSBA-Sponsored PaySchools-Data Business Systems (Andy Eckles) 17011 Lincoln Avenue Parker, CO 80134 303-779-6573, 855-210-8232 X 130 Fax: 720-208-9852 PFM Asset Management, LLC MSDLAF+ (Donn Hanson) 45 South 7th Street, Suite 2800 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-371-3720, Fax 612-338-7264 Fire & Security Arvig 888-992-7844 Fitness Equipment 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment (Mike Adrian) 7585 Equitable Drive Eden Prairie, MN 55344 952-224-1210, Fax 952-544-5053 Floor Coverings Hiller Commercial Floors (Dave Bahr) 2909 S. Broadway Rochester, MN 55904 507-254-6858 or 888-724-1766, Fax 507-288-8877 Food Service Products & Services Lunchtime Solutions, Inc. (Deni Ferlick) 717 N. Derby Lane North Sioux City, SD 57049 605-235-0939, Fax 605-235-0942 Insurance Bullis Insurance Agency – Assured Risk Protection (Marc Bullis) 407 East Lake Street #201 Wayzata, MN 55391 952-449-0089

Minnesota School Boards Association Insurance Trust (MSBAIT) (Denise Drill, Gary Lee, John Sylvester, Amy Fullenkamp-Taylor) 1900 West Jefferson Avenue St. Peter, MN 56082-3015 800-324-4459, Fax 507-931-1515 Janitorial Contract Services Marsden Bldg Maintenance, LLC (Diane Lewis) 1717 University Ave. W. St. Paul, MN 55104 651-523-6756, Fax 651-523-6678 Playgrounds 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 Roofing Four Seasons Energy Efficient Roofing, Inc. (Darrell Schaapveld) 1410 Quant Ave. N. Marine on St. Croix, MN 55047 651-433-2443, Fax 651-433-2834 Security/Communications Systems Arvig 888-992-7844 Software Systems MSBA-Sponsored PaySchools-Data Business Systems (Andy Eckles) 17011 Lincoln Avenue Parker, CO 80134 303-779-6573, 855-210-8232 X 130 Fax: 720-208-9852

Technology MSBA-Sponsored PaySchools-Data Business Systems (Andy Eckles) 17011 Lincoln Avenue Parker, CO 80134 303-779-6573, 855-210-8232 X 130 Fax: 720-208-9852 Transportation American Bus Sales, LLC (Eric Edwards) 12802 N. 103rd East Avenue Collinsville, OK 74021 866-574-9970, Fax 918-205-5009 Hoglund Bus Co., Inc. (Jason Anderson) 116 East Oakwood Drive PO Box 249 Monticello, MN 55362 800-866-3105, Fax 763-295-4992 Minnesota School Bus Operators Association (Shelly Jonas) 10606 Hemlock Street NW Annandale, MN 55302 320-274-8313, Fax 320-274-8027 North Central Bus & Equipment (Sandy Kiehm) 2629 Clearwater Road 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, 763-262-3328 Fax 763-262-3332 Wireless Communications Arvig 888-992-7844

May/June 2013        29

Advertisers Arvig.................................................................................... Page 14 ATS&R Planners/Architects/Engineers.......................... Page 14 DLR Group....................................................................Page 25


Eide Bailly........................................................................... Page 13

2009, 2010 & 2012 Best Print Publication

Hiller Commercial Flooring............................................. Page 21 Kennedy & Graven, Chartered .......................................... Page 7 Knutson, Flynn & Deans, P.A............................................ Page 21 Mackin Educational Resources......................................... Page 27 MSBAIT.............................................................................. Page 32 MSDLAF+............................................................................. Page 7 North Central Bus & Equipment...................................... Page 13 PreferredOne....................................................................... Page 2 Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A. ...................................... Page 15 Rupp, Anderson, Squires & Waldspuger.......................... Page 26 Taher, Inc........................................................................... Page 26 Telin Transportation Group.............................................. Page 30

30        MSBA Journal

by the Minnesota School Public Relations Association Cited for “Comprehensive Coverage” “Impressive Student Artwork” Brought to you by YOUR MSBA


p ow can school boards avoid legal entanglements over the graduation ceremony?


Q: In our school district, we have student speakers at graduation. The students claim these speakers can say whatever they want to, because they have a constitutional right to free speech. Are the students right?

Cathy Miller, Director of Legal and Policy Services

School districts may decide not to have student speakers at graduation, but that decision should be made well in advance so students and parents are prepared.

A: No. The event with the student speakers at graduation is considered school sponsored, so the school must monitor the content of the speech. Student speakers may not proselytize religious beliefs, because the school-sponsored event must remain neutral on the subject of religion. A schoolsponsored event can neither support nor disparage religion or the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution would be violated. The Establishment Clause provides, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” This Clause applies to State actors through application of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and schools are considered State actors for these purposes. The school may also prohibit profane, lewd, vulgar, indecent, obscene, or offensive speech, and common sense dictates it do so. The school administration may require that student speeches be submitted for review prior to the graduation ceremony. The amplification system may be turned off if a student strays from an approved speech. School districts may decide not to have student speakers at graduation, but that decision should be made well in advance so students and parents are prepared. Q: The local pastors have asked to be included in the graduation ceremony to provide an invocation, prayer, and benediction. The school district wants to maintain a good relationship with the churches, so we can include the pastors in the ceremony, right? A: No. The graduation ceremony must be neutral in regard to religion. Including any of these religious aspects in the ceremony would violate the Establishment Clause. See the discussion above. If the school district would like to find a way to solemnize the

occasion, consider a moment of silence where the attendees are free to choose on their own how to use the moment. The community can organize a nondenominational or multi-denominational religious baccalaureate ceremony completely separate from the school-sponsored graduation ceremony. Individual churches can recognize graduating seniors in their own ways. The school district cannot be involved in these events. Q: Many of our seniors owe money to the school. Can we withhold the diplomas of these students until their debts to the school are paid? A: No. A student has a protected property interest in his or her diploma. If the student has met the requirements for graduation, receipt of a diploma may not be conditioned on payment of fees or return of school property. Also, a school board may not charge fees for graduation caps or gowns or diplomas. M.S. §§ 123B.35 & 123B.37, Subds. 1 & 2. The school district may pursue legal action to collect the fees. Q: Can seniors be disciplined with exclusion from the graduation ceremony? A: Yes. If the school district has given sufficient notice to students and parents of prohibited behaviors and that the potential sanctions include exclusion from the graduation ceremony, student discipline may preclude students from attending the graduation ceremony. The punishment should fit the offense, the school district must be consistent, and consideration should be given to the significance of this discipline. Parents or students often sue over this issue, because high school graduation is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Courts recognize both the significance of and the extracurricular or social nature of graduation. No protected property interest exists in the graduation ceremony. However, if a student has met the requirements for graduation, his or her diploma cannot be withheld as discipline. Q: If a student has not met the requirements for graduation, can s/he be excluded from the graduation ceremony? A: Yes. The school district can alternatively decide to allow the student to participate in the ceremony but not receive a diploma until the graduation requirements are met. May/June 2013        31




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MSBA Journal: May-June 2013  
MSBA Journal: May-June 2013  

The 2013 May-June Journal Magazine