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September-October 2013

Consolidation Proliferation Innovation Zone Moving Ahead in Spring Lake Park and Farmington Students Gain Insights from Board Members Working Together

Volume 66, No. 2


SUMMER SEMINAR Scrapbook page 22

A Climate of Safety

School district Employee Healthcare Costs Save 14%

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Divisions 4 5 6 28 31


STRAIGHT TALK Kirk Schneidawind, MSBA Executive Director  ESIDENT’S COLUMN PR Walter Hautala, MSBA President VENDOR DIRECTORY Pierre Productions & Promotions, Inc.  SK MSBA A Gary Lee, Associate Director of Management Services

Articles 8 14 18 22

Consolidation Proliferation Edited by Bruce Lombard Innovation Zone moving ahead in Spring Lake Park and Farmington Jim Skelly and Jim Elert

2 �������������Labor Day (no meetings) 27 �����������Last Day for Submitting Resolutions 10 �����������MSBA Fall Area Legislative Meetings (Anoka and Fergus Falls) 11 �����������MSBA Fall Area Legislative Meeting (Marshall) 12 �����������MSBA Fall Area Legislative Meeting (via WebEx)

OCTOBER 2013 3 �������������MSBA Insurance Trust Meeting 3–4 ���������MSBA Board of Directors’ Meeting 3–4 ���������MN Assn. of Educational Office Professionals Conference 6–8 ���������MASA Fall Conference 14 �����������Columbus Day Observed (optional holiday) 17–18 �����Education Minnesota Conference

NOVEMBER 2013 3 �������������Daylight Saving Time Ends 5 �������������Election Day (no meetings or activities 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.) 7–8 ���������MSBA Board of Directors’ Meeting 11 �����������Veterans Day (no meetings) 13 �����������Minnesota School District Liquid Asset Fund Plus Annual Meeting 13 �����������MSBA Pre-Delegate Assembly Meetings 14 �����������MSBA Pre-Delegate Assembly Meetings 14–15 �����MASBO Fall Conference 16 �����������MSBA Pre-Delegate Assembly Meetings 17–23 �����American Education Week 28 �����������Thanksgiving Day (no meetings) 29 �����������Optional holiday

Students gain insights from board members working together Greg Abbott and Bruce Lombard Summer Seminar Scrapbook MSBA Staff

The MSBA Journal thanks the students of Albert Lea and Greenbush Public Schools for sharing their art in this issue. COVER ART:

Erin Foss, Greenbush Public Schools

CONTENTS September/October 2013   VOLUME 66, NUMBER 2


September/October 2013    3

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 Kirk Schneidawind: Executive Director Kelly Martell: Executive Assistant/Director of Board Operations 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: Director of Technology 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.

Consolidation “Saying more small schools should consolidate is just as ridiculous as saying more large schools should be divided. One important factor that would help all school districts is stable, equitable and predictable state funding, which allows for long-term planning and program development. We believe our citizens and locally elected school board members are smart. They know how to run schools efficiently. They know what programs and resources are needed to help kids achieve. And they know when it’s time to cooperate, share or consolidate. They also know that many small schools are some of the best in the state.” MSBA Executive Director Kirk Schneidawind, in a counterpoint to a Star Tribune editorial that called for more small school districts to consolidate

DJ disparages schools on Twitter “I find it troubling that anyone— especially an adult—would use social media or any platform to make light of serious issues facing young people or to perpetuate stereotypes. This is the kind of behavior that we teach our children is wrong.” Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius, in response to Twin Cities radio DJ Dave Ryan’s Twitter posts that disparaged a number of schools across the state

School district: Field trips should be educational “The point is, we’re paid to provide instruction. It’s not to say you can’t take a field trip on the last day of school. Go to the Minnesota Zoo. Go to the Science Museum. Go to the Historical Society. Do something fun, but make it related to whatever you’re doing.” Rochester Public Schools executive director of curriculum and instruction Jean Lubke, regarding the district’s plan to eliminate field trips that are just for fun

Twenty-five years worth of wisdom “It’s critical to develop a sense of trust between what you do and the people you serve. You have to listen, listen, listen. You’ll find a grain of common ground, a glimpse of a solution and then you have to do what’s best for the students. No matter where you stand, no matter your personal beliefs. You do what’s best for students no matter what.” Anoka-Hennepin School Board Member Michael Sullivan, who recently announced he will not seek re-election in the fall after 25 years of service

The importance of early childhood education “The average kindergartner who comes from a disadvantaged community starts school in the fall a year to 14 months behind. And then we wonder why we have achievement gaps and dropout rates and all the other things. The stakes have never been higher and we’ve moved as a country far too slow in this area.” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Mental health “Schools are in over their heads with (students with serious) mental health problems. They think they can hire a few social workers and school psychologists to deal with this, but the reality is those folks aren’t trained in the clinical work.” Canvas Health CEO Mark Kuppe

Hats off to dress code “It isn’t just respect, it’s an issue for kids. They need to realize they’re in school to learn things. It isn’t just relaxing time in school. …It helps keep everybody focused on why they’re in school.” Morris Area School Board Member Kurt Gartland, on the district’s new dress code that bans hats

SS traight T alk ?P

ee a problem articipating in our Delegate Assembly process can help solve it


With state involvement in schools, sometimes board members may wonder what they can do to fix laws or advocate for changes that will benefit their students.

Kirk Schneidawind MSBA Executive Director

We take advocacy for our boards very seriously, so we give you many opportunities to tell us what you want and what your priorities are.

The answer for “What Can I Do?” came in the mail the first week of September. It’s a ballot for the 2013 delegates to the MSBA Delegate Assembly. By voting for your delegates, you are selecting school board representatives from your area to vote on policy and funding issues that will be included in MSBA’s legislative platform. In short, you are helping to pick local school board members who can support the legislative changes you want to see. And you can also join your board in writing a resolution on an issue that can be voted on at our December Delegate Assembly. You don’t need to be a delegate to submit a resolution. However, having the support from your local school board is extremely helpful in an attempt to garner support from other delegates. MSBA averages more than 30 legislative resolutions in an average year. If a majority of the school board delegates approve the resolution, it will likely become part of your Association’s platform for the 2014 legislative session. It’s all part of how MSBA keeps a grassroots advocacy system in place to push for issues that local school board members care about. Our Governmental Relations team of Grace Keliher and Denise Dittrich will use that grassroots feedback to push for your changes at the state Capitol. We take advocacy for our boards very seriously, so we give you many opportunities to tell us what you want and what your priorities are. Our three-part system kicks off with our Fall Area Legislative Meetings, scheduled across the state so board members can hear about changes that happened in the past session and what we might need to prepare for in 2014. Visit our website to find the nearest meeting for you. In November, we have six Pre-Delegate Assembly meetings where our staff runs through all of the resolutions that will be presented at the Delegate Assembly. We dig for the background on the issue, list pros

and cons and help answer any questions you may have on a resolution. Our final step is the December 6-7 Delegate Assembly, where school board delegates vote on each resolution. Delegates will be charged with voting for or against a resolution. Will this specific resolution help my district? The districts in my region? All of the districts in the state? While we encourage the delegates to think about all of these options, it is the statewide perspective that should be the ultimate filter for all of the delegates. Every district that is a member of MSBA should benefit from a legislative position that either repeals an unfunded mandate or adds value to school district programs in order to improve student achievement. It’s our best way to find out exactly what districts need so that when the 2014 session opens, we can be ready to advocate for those issues. In total, our Delegate Assembly includes 136 school board members, elected from 30 areas across the state – as well as your 15 MSBA Board of Directors. We will have delegates from our smallest school districts voting along with delegates from our largest districts. Each district has their own unique challenges, but when they come together to support a resolution that helps the Minneapolis as well as the Hills-Beaver Creek School District, the MSBA delegates are sending a powerful statement to the Minnesota Legislature. Because of this experience, I can assure you that each school board delegate will return to their local school district a better school board member. At MSBA, we listen to your concerns and want to represent YOU. Some past examples of pushing your resolutions have resulted in the repeal of the January 15 penalty for not settling teacher contracts, increasing equalization rates, full funding for voluntary all-day every-day kindergarten, as well as maximizing revenue from school district state trust lands. It’s all part of how we determine what issues we work on. It’s also one of the best things that you can do to help advocate for your students and district. September/October 2013    5

President’s Column Some of the best input for a board is


from students at the table This year Mesabi East will have a junior and a senior student school board member sitting at the table with us. I’ve always liked the student board member concept because it reminds all of us why we have board meetings and what our work should be about.

Walter Hautala MSBA President

To me, having a student school board member sitting at the table with us makes everyone a better board member.

MSBA has tracked at least 92 school boards that have students as ex-officio sitting members. And interest is growing. Almost every significant decision we make affects our students – whether it is deciding what to cut to make budget, how many teachers we can afford (which affects class size), or what policies we put into place for dress code, open campus for lunch, etc. And with a student at the table, you can get input on how those decisions affect students first-hand. Having a student school board member is also a chance for the board to model public service. With a well-functioning board, we can show students how to work together as a team – even when a decision doesn’t go our own individual way. We can explain some of the complexities that go into decisions on budget, programs and trying to implement state and federal mandates. It’s a wonderful exchange: Students get a taste of local government, and boards get real customer-based input to help make decisions.

In this issue, we feature a couple of those student school board members who won MSBA’s $3,000 scholarship. These are two of many amazing students who applied, but each time I read their essays, I’m drawn to Molly Sandstrom’s quote about what she saw on the Chisago Lakes Area School Board: “I have learned that alone, one school board member cannot pass a referendum or solve a budget crisis or work through staff contract negotiations. But together, as a team of six, they can truly move mountains.”

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I have great respect for the board members in Chisago Lakes for demonstrating what team leadership really means to their students. It’s easy to point fingers if something goes wrong. It’s easier to storm away and criticize some decision if you don’t agree with it. But it’s hard work to listen to everyone’s concerns, and include them in that team of six or seven who can move that mountain. Stephanie Chavez-Estrada of Richfield also gained an understanding of what a school board does. “The members of the school board leave a legacy as education reformers,” she said. “I hope to bring a legacy of my own.” Stephanie hit the nail on the head. What we do to help our students succeed is our legacy to the future. It should give everyone some motivation to make sure their meetings are focused on students, not dysfunctional arguments and grandstanding. Our legacy will be our children, and how well we rise to the occasion to make sure ALL of them succeed. To me, having a student school board member sitting at the table with us makes everyone a better board member. Those students can give board members the pulse on the feelings of the student body. And for students, having that student member participate in our meetings shows that we care about their needs and wants.

A passion for public law

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September/October 2013    7

Greenbush Public School

Consolidation Proliferation


Superintendents provide perspective of their respective school district mergers From 2007 to 2012, there were only four school district consolidations in Minnesota—one district closed and six others folded into three. In 2013, we have seen four consolidations alone. According to a Minnesota Public Radio news article, that total marks the largest number of consolidations in 16 years. This one-year spike in mergers now leaves Minnesota with 333 public school districts.

Edited by Bruce Lombard

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Effective July 1, 2013, the following four sets of districts were officially united: Oklee and Plummer (now known as Red Lake County Central), Morris Area and Cyrus, Round Lake and Brewster, and Brandon and Evansville. Superintendents James Guetter (Red Lake County Central) and Scott Monson (Morris Area) provide an overview of what went into their respective consolidations—including insight on what went right and what other school districts that are considering a future consolidation should look out for.

Superintendent James Guetter (Red Lake County Central)

Greenbush Public School

Overview — the road to consolidation Our two districts—the Oklee School District and the Plummer School District—have a long history of working together to provide their students with more academic and extracurricular opportunities while remaining independent school districts. Oklee and Plummer joined into an Academic Pairing Agreement for the 2002-2003 school year and became the Red Lake County Central Schools and have continued this cooperative effort since. In 2005, the schools changed to their current configuration of grades K-6 at the Plummer School and grades 7-12 at the Oklee School. Both schools still have their own preschool programs which run for three days per week for children from three to five years of age, at no cost to parents. The purpose of the academic pairing agreement was to enhance the educational quality and the number of different opportunities for the students of both districts. To do this at a time of declining enrollment and flat state funding would have been financially impossible for either district to accomplish on its own. Through a lot of planning and hard work by the staff of each district, the transition into the current K-6 elementary school and the 7-12 high school has become a reality that meets the original purpose. The combining of the resources and the people from each district has truly made for a stronger and more focused educational setting. However, the sharing of programs actually started back in 1982 with wrestling and 1987 with basketball. Football, cheerleading and track combined during the 1989-90 school year, and volleyball in 1991. Softball became a new venture for both in 1995 as baseball already existed with Red Lake Falls. There have been many individuals in speech, wrestling and track, and teams in football, baseball, track and girls basketball that have earned their way to the state tournament as the Mustangs. We currently have now entered into a second generation of co-oping activities with sharing programs in track, football, boys basketball, golf, baseball and speech with Red Lake Falls and are known as the Red Lake County Rebels.

So, as you can see, the future of the Red Lake County Central Schools looks bright. For the third year in a row, our student enrollment has exceeded the enrollment of the first year of the pairing agreement (2002-03) after many years of declining enrollment. This trend is projected to continue and is the result of two things: an increase in the number of children living in our districts. And the second reason is open enrollment—we now have fewer kids leaving our districts and also more kids are coming to our schools from other districts. This is a credit to our caring staff that takes the time to get to know each and every student. We are considered a small school and we take that as a compliment as we value small teacher-student ratios, and know that each student is special. Both schools have many special programs and services to meet the many needs and talents of the wide variety of students and families that are a part of our learning communities. We work to provide a safe emotional and physical learning environment for all students. Starting with the school boards, and then through all employees, the welfare and education of students is the number one priority. One of the biggest educational opportunities for juniors and seniors has been the earning of college credits while in high school. We offer this opportunity in two avenues— college in the high school classes and also online college courses. A student can earn more than 30 college credits while attending RLCC High School. This opportunity definitely helps save on the cost of college for students and their families while providing a challenging and diverse curriculum for the last two years of high school.

September/October 2013    9

Consolidation Proliferation

Some other increased educational opportunities are the preschool programs and all-day, every-day kindergarten. We have been fortunate in the area of securing grants to help us recognize and address a number of needs starting with: a comprehensive reform grant, facility grants, Safe Schools, two physical education grants, counseling, reading, System of Care, Response to Intervention, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables grants since 2008, and two Monsanto Rural Growth grants. These, combined with the support from the Plummer Lions Club, have provided many extra services for students. The schools have also been very fortunate to have the support of the communities and surrounding areas of Brooks, Plummer and Oklee. Support through volunteering, by just being involved, coming to events or by interacting with the kids, as it does take a village to raise a kid. And yes, also financial support through operating referendums, which neither district could survive without, which will need to be renewed in the future. The consolidation plan does not change the school setup or student offerings. Some of the main reasons the school boards felt that the time was right to take the next step in the cooperative effort of education our students are: • To improve the long-term future of the two school districts as one district. • To gain cost effectiveness by accessing economies of scale. • To maintain and possibly expand course offerings and technology for student learning. • A combined commitment to the future education for the communities served. What went right with the process? Timing—A realization that the future for the education of the children of these communities is as one entity, one district, and that there were benefits that we could access by becoming one district. The schools had already developed their own identities and had captured the benefits of combining together. People—The support of everyone, some with a quiet support of “yes I think it is a good thing” to others who would ask the tough questions. Some people also helped sell the idea and the future to anyone who wanted to visit about it. The people you will rely on to make the decisions and the changes be successful, the people who really do the work of raising children throughout the school and the communities. The people who work directly with our main purpose — education; continuing to 10    MSBA Journal

instruct to each and every student, at the student’s level, is our number one objective. To make our educational process successful as we prepare young people for a very busy and challenging life. Things school districts should look out for: I think in this day of school choice, you need to make sure you do not lose students/alienate families, and even weaken any community relationships, while making certain this opportunity of change results in an improvement in your local public education system. Like most things in the public view, you do need to sell — sell the situation — by being very honest with a simplistic message without all of our educational and finance jargon, talk with the people and also listen to the people. Not everything is always a win, recognize the challenges and the losses, but let your optimism of the future shine with the positive improvements of why you believe this is the best for the districts, the schools, the communities, the patrons, the parents, the students and the staff. I think you should also give consideration to the timing, the change process and pride. With timing, I feel it starts with beliefs and attitudes which in turn provide for behaviors. To really set the table, people need to believe, all people, whatever their role in the school or community is. And is there trust of the administration, of the boards, of the overall school? Change takes time and it takes communication— two-way communications … listening, and also effectively conveying your message, and some problem solving along the way. Pride can be a double-edged sword. Too much, and change and taking a risk can be interpreted as a loss. This will cause many problems for many years to come. Pride in moving ahead, helping to create a better educational opportunity is where I believe our situation is at.

Superintendent Scott Monson (Morris Area) Overview — the road to consolidation Several things led to the consolidation of the Cyrus and Morris Area School Districts. First, both school boards maintained a focus on providing a great education for all students. Other things that contributed to consolidation discussions, and ultimately the consolidation, included: • Geographic proximity (8 miles apart). • Cyrus was experiencing financial challenges.

• We had a history of a well-established collaborative relationship, as evidenced by a high school tuition agreement (since 1988), shared professional development (since 2006), and Morris providing transportation services for the past two school years. • Students living in the Cyrus district and attending elementary school in Cyrus were ultimately viewed as “Morris students,” because a vast majority of them were going to attend grades 7-12 in Morris through the tuition agreement. • Neighboring districts (Hancock, Minnewaska Area and West Central Area) chose not to participate in consolidation discussions. • Admittedly, the fear of dissolution — if voluntary, Morris could have lost our entire existing operating levy authority. Formally, the consolidation process started on November 29, 2011, when Cyrus officials notified districts they were exploring options for the 2013-2014 school year. Additional events that took place during the consolidation process include: • January 9, 2012: John Bulger, Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), provides information about consolidation and dissolution to several school districts.

• August 20, 2012: Morris School Board discusses potential consolidation during their regular meeting. • September 13, 2012: Morris School Board holds a work session in Morris. • October 4, 2012: Joint Cyrus-Morris work session held in Cyrus. • October 22, 2012: Morris School Board chooses “Plat A” based on percent of Cyrus resident students for determining percent of existing debt service levy to be spread on Cyrus residents. • November 29, 2012: Morris School Board tables plat and resolution and directs Superintendent Monson to work on potential changes. • December 3, 2012: Morris School Board approves revised plat and resolution at a special meeting. • December 13, 2012: Cyrus School Board approves revised plat and resolution at a special meeting. • January 28, 2013: Pope County auditor submits consolidation plat and supporting documents to the MDE for consideration. Greenbush Public School

• March 1, 2012: Cyrus representatives meet with Morris representatives.

• May 15, 2013: Pope County auditor notifies the MDE that the consolidation timeline has been completed.

• March 15, 2012: Cyrus notifies neighboring districts they are beginning initial consolidation discussions. • May 4, 2012: Administrators for potential consolidation/dissolution districts attend meeting and discussion in Cyrus. • May 24, 2012: Meeting with interested parties, including West Central Area, Minnewaska Area, Cyrus, Hancock and Morris. • June 18, 2012: Morris Superintendent Scott Monson provides overview information about potential consolidation during a school board meeting. • July 18, 2012: Morris School Board holds a work session to meet with Mike Hoheisel from Northland Securities regarding potential consolidation.

• March 6, 2013: MDE notifies Pope County that the plat and consolidation supporting statement have been accepted.

• May 20, 2013: Secretary of State office “approves” orderly reduction plan. • June 4, 2013: New district number assigned to the consolidated district. • July 1, 2013: Consolidated district begins operation. What went right with the process? The consolidation process continues to be a learning experience and various questions come up each week. However, several things went well during the process. One of the things that went right was a constant and continued focus on stakeholders — especially students, parents and the public. Everyone focused on being as transparent as September/October 2013    11

Consolidation Proliferation

possible, and that was an important step during the discussions and subsequent consolidation. While there may have been opposition to the consolidation, efforts to be transparent and proactive produced positive results and people understood why the consolidation was happening. Having both school boards unanimously support the consolidation was important and also went well during the process, even though there were challenges to work through. Because we enlisted the support of several people from various organizations, we had a relatively thorough action plan and a good idea of what needed to happen and when. Because we had this action plan and were frequently able to refer back to it, the process went smoothly. The bottom line is the people involved in the process were familiar with the reasons why consolidation was a good option and did what they could to support and move it forward. The support of stakeholders was important. Things school districts should look out for: What we learned during this process is the importance of over-communicating with various stakeholders, of accessing resources and outside assistance, and of developing an action plan. Consequently, districts thinking about consolidation need to watch out for not communicating enough, going it alone, and not having a well thought out plan.

with the process than we are. A variety of people at the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota School Boards Association were very helpful during the process. Cyrus and Morris agreed to use the same legal counsel and the same financial advisor for legal and financial advice during the process and that was extremely helpful. Unless districts have been through this process before, there will be a long list of questions—consequently, feeling comfortable asking questions and seeking input and assistance from others is very beneficial. Since there are a variety of deadlines associated with consolidation, timing is important. In order to best meet all of the deadlines, having a specific action plan—including deadlines and who is responsible— helped our districts during the process. Having an unstructured approach may have worked but would have caused more problems than what we encountered. Bruce Lombard is the Associate Director of Communications at MSBA. You can contact him at blombard@mnmsba. org. For further reading about school consolidations, see the May-June 2010 edition of The Journal for “Lessons Learned From Consolidations” (pages 12-16).

Consolidation is a significant change for many people, largely because there are many questions, many of which may not be asked. Consequently, we were deliberate and intentional with efforts to keep stakeholders informed, and we tried to anticipate — and answer — questions as often as we could. In addition to a variety of media communications (newspaper articles and radio interviews), staff were kept up-to-date on what was taking place, a public mailing was sent to every resident in both districts and informational meetings were held. Over-communication is not possible during an important change process such as consolidation. While consolidation seems like such a simple process, it is more complicated than people might understand. It is necessary to ask questions and enlist the help of those more familiar

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12    MSBA Journal

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September/October 2013    13

Innovation Zone moving ahead in Spring Lake Park and Farmington

The Innovation Zone application included an illustrated video produced at no-cost to the disticts by national award-winning illustrator, documentary filmmaker, and information designer Anthony Weeks. Visit or search “A New Design for Education” on YouTube to view the video.


Although the Spring Lake Park School District and Farmington Area Public Schools are separated by more than 40 miles and are at northern and southern ends of the Twin Cities metro area, the strategic direction of each is closely aligned.

Jim Skelly and Jim Elert

Not only does each have a strategic plan that prioritizes customized learning and meeting the unique needs of every student, the districts are the two largest in the metro area to implement the integration of iPads and learning devices for all students. So, when the Minnesota Legislature created Innovation Zone legislation in 2012 encouraging school districts to work together to find new ways to deliver education in Minnesota, Spring Lake Park and Farmington Area were more than up for the challenge. In February, a joint application by the districts to become an Innovation Zone was submitted and subsequently approved by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) in April 2013. With the decision, students will be presented with new possibilities and the districts

14    MSBA Journal

will serve to meet both the goals of their strategic plans, but also serve to improve educational opportunities for students statewide. Dr. Brenda Cassellius, MDE Commissioner, said that such collaboration would help to “drive innovation” and “provide a model that other districts may choose to emulate.” The Innovation Zone designation is not a grant and does not come with any additional funding. It may, however, allow the districts flexibility from some mandates and exemptions in order to think and act creatively in customizing learning and meeting the unique needs of students. At the core of the Innovation Zone concept is redesigning school. In Farmington Area and Spring Lake Park, In Spring Lake Park, students immediately expressed their enthusiasm about how placing devices in the hands of all students teachers were now delivering content, how projects are assigned, and how research was is really just a first step. The districts’ now anytime/anywhere with the iPads. Westwood Middle School Principal Paula Hoff, educators know that technology by itself shown visiting a classroom, said teachers were excited about the increase in engagement, does not lead to improved learning. collaboration, and critical thinking resulting from this more personalized learning. Advancements are made when the technology is paired with quality educators, who then can redesign learning to provide improved levels of personalized, engaging instruction. The Innovation Zone will support a culture where schools can develop learning practices that capitalize on staff creativity and position schools for emerging change and technologies, with the goal of meeting the needs, interests, and aspirations of all students. “This isn’t something a school board, an administrator, or even a teacher is going to achieve on their own, but rather a different way of doing school,” commented Jay Haugen, Farmington Area superintendent. “The type of innovation we’re exploring is about fundamentally changing school. We will ensure that all the standards are met, but this approach is more about connecting school in a meaningful way to students’ passions, and developing the very best in every student.” Spring Lake Park and Farmington Area teachers have discovered first-hand that learning activities in classrooms are much more vibrant and engaging for student learning than they were just a year ago, or even a few months ago. Just as emerging technologies are changing the world each and every day, they are changing the educational landscape in classrooms, creating a fresh and exciting experience for students.

Farmington/Spring Lake Park Innovation Zone Focus Areas

Shared Resources – Examine processes and determine efficiencies in curriculum improvement, professional development, personnel, data analysis and test analysis. Time-Bound Learning – Develop alternatives to “traditional schooling” that divide learning into age/grade levels and structure of the school day, a structure which does adequately recognize that students learn at different paces. Personalized Student Engagement – Create a system of continuous progress where students move at an appropriate pace, continually increasing the depth and rigor of their learning. Personalized Interactions – Using powerful learning devices like the iPad that eliminate boundaries of time and space, students will create personal learning networks while working independently and in collaboration with inspiring, well-trained, professional teachers. Budget Process – Finance administrators will develop revenue and expenditure budgets and reporting standards for specific programs.

“Ultimately, our efforts should lead to deeper engagement, resulting in students practicing the life and career skills of collaboration and self-direction,” September/October 2013    15

Innovation Zone

said Dr. Jeff Ronneberg, Spring Lake Park superintendent. “In the first few months of implementation we have already seen greater levels of engagement. This initiative isn’t about improving test scores, it’s about designing personalized learning experiences that students will enthusiastically engage with and persist with through difficulty, resulting in students who are prepared to take ownership of their learning beyond school.” That’s a dramatically different description of what happens in classrooms from what some have called a “factory model” or “assembly line” approach. There is little doubt that teachers across the state are innovating and creating a personalized education for their students. But is there a way to create that type of system that ignites a spark for learning and develops the potential for all students across an entire school district?

Five Things to Know about the Innovation Zone •S  pring Lake Park and Farmington are one of two such Innovation Zone pilot programs in Minnesota, and the only such program in the metro. • Innovation Zone initiatives will meet the strategic directions of each district’s strategic plan, with a goal of developing new systems to benefit students statewide. • Innovation Zones were created by the state Legislature in 2012. • The Innovation Zone designation will last for five years. • The Innovation Zone designation does not come with additional funding.

The Innovation Zone designation begins this school year and will be in place for the next five years. Jim Skelly is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator for the Farmington Area Public Schools. Jim Elert is the Communications Coordinator for the Spring Lake Park School District. The Farmington Area/ Spring Lake Park Innovation Zone designation was one of two such awarded in the initial phase. The South Central Consortium, a partnership of five school districts near the Minnesota-Iowa border was the other designee named by the Minnesota Department of Education in April.

16    MSBA Journal

Farmington High School Science Teacher Julian Buss created a “hybrid” classroom, effectively reducing the number of students in his labs to an average of 17 and allowing him more interaction time with students. Here Buss demonstrates the use of a VernierLabquest2 device, a data collection tool that works with iPads and students to collect and analyze data from lesson plans. The district secured these devices through a grant from the Monsanto Corporation.

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Students gain insights from board members working together

Chisago Lakes Area’s Molly Sandstrom was one of two recipients of the 2013 MSBA Student School Board Member Scholarship.


With a record number of applications for MSBA’s Student School Board Member Scholarship, the committee of board members had a tough time narrowing down the applicants to the two scholarship winners. This year, the $3,000 scholarships went to Molly Sandstrom of Chisago Lakes and Stephanie Chavez-Estrada of Richfield. In this article, we’ll focus on the two winners and showcase how these students contributed to an effective school board.

Greg Abbott and Bruce Lombard

Molly Sandstrom, Chisago Lakes High School Molly had challenged herself in school, diving into her classes and getting involved in student activities. But she also wanted real-world experience, and becoming a student school board member for the Chisago Lakes Area School District was the exact experience she wanted. “As part of the Honor Society, you learn how a group is supposed to run,” she said. “But it’s different to be part of a board in the real world. You see how people have to work together, how they have to find solutions to problems and prepare for any issues that are out there.” In her time on the board, she saw how board members hit difficult issues that not everyone agreed on. She saw the board discuss the issue, try to find a solution and — even if someone still disagreed, the members supported the majority decision.

18    MSBA Journal

Richfield’s Stephanie Chavez-Estrada was awarded the other 2013 MSBA Student School Board Member Scholarship. “When the motion passes, we need to put aside our own thoughts and accept the decision of the collective board so that we may come together and support it whole-heartedly.” Molly said one of her best experiences was sitting in on a superintendent search. She was part of the interview process for the finalists and asked questions of all the candidates. “It was a great experience to see how the process occurs,” she said. “The board involved the community, parents, staff and students.” The MSBA committee picking the scholarship winners liked not only what Molly learned from the board, but also her spirit of volunteering in the community. Molly has volunteered at the Chisago Lakes Public Library for the past three years and has helped with child care services at the Osceola Medical Center’s Wild River Fitness “Wild Kids” program. During discussions about what student needs could improve the high school, Principal Dave Ertl saw Molly jump into a leadership role that helped to create the Gay-Straight Alliance organization. “Molly sets high standards for herself and others, and maintains those beliefs under extreme pressure,” Ertl said. To pick a student for the board, Chisago Lakes announces an opening for the position and takes applications. Students go through an interview process with the superintendent and some board members. Board ViceChair Lori Berg said Molly exhibited a level of insight and self-awareness rarely seen in students. Molly has also excelled in extracurricular activities — serving as president of the Minnesota Association of Honor Societies, helping with the school’s freshman transition program, and participating in both the math league and knowledge bowl.

Her interest is in history, which she pursued in an independent study that focused on childhood in America and how gender and religion shapes people. She plans to continue her studies in history at Brown University in Providence, RI. One experience she’ll take with her is how her own school board puts in so much effort to make their schools better for students. “I have learned that alone, one school board member cannot pass a referendum or solve a budget crisis or work through staff contract negotiations. But together, as a team of six, they can truly move mountains.” Stephanie Chavez-Estrada, Richfield High School The Augsburg College-bound Stephanie Chavez-Estrada has always been interested in education and plans on pursuing a career as a special education teacher. She’s practically been a teacher her entire young life, helping shape the minds of her three younger brothers. Growing up, Stephanie loved “playing school” with her little brothers (ages 15, 8 and 2) and “teaching them new things they did not know before, and challenging them in the process.” One of her brothers is on the autism spectrum, the major reason she wants to work in special education. Stephanie joined the Richfield School Board during fall 2011, a new responsibility that added to an already-long list of responsibilities that included student leadership, tutoring, extracurricular activities and volunteer commitments. “Stephanie is selfless, a fearless leader and a strong public speaker,” Richfield High School teacher Michael Cunningham wrote in his scholarship recommendation letter for Stephanie. “She is president of the Richfield High September/October 2013    19

School Honors Society, a member of our student government and an active volunteer within the Richfield community. Stephanie is simply something special.” Stephanie is indeed special — and finds giving up her own time to the community to be special as well.

Students gain insights from board members working together

“By giving up your time, you can make a real difference, whether it be at an event or at a local shelter,” she said. “You learn values and you appreciate what you have. It’s taught me a lot. I’ve told my brothers that they have to volunteer, too.” Despite balancing several activities and taking a heavy load of rigorous courses, Stephanie was still able to produce an eye-popping 4.1 grade-point average. Stephanie doesn’t see a busy schedule as a hindrance — she sees it as a benefit. “Some students don’t take extracurricular activities because they say they’d rather focus on school work, but honestly if it wasn’t for extracurricular activities, I don’t know what I’d be doing with my time,” she said. “I feel like it focuses me more. I feel like I have an advantage through them. I’ve read statistics that kids who do extracurricular activities do better in school than those who don’t.” Stephanie was featured on a KARE 11 TV broadcast back in October 2012 as one of the station’s Academic All-Stars. The TV profile detailed how Stephanie didn’t learn to speak English (as second language to Spanish) until elementary school. Richfield High School Assistant Principal Teresa Rosen called Stephanie’s tale a “classic American success story.”

20    MSBA Journal

Chrissy Meza, Albert Lea Public Schools

“(Stephanie) did the right thing, cared for others, really had that goal in mind and kept her eye on it, but never stepped on anybody else to get there,” Rosen told KARE 11. “And, (she) wants to pay back, and that’s a great part of the American story.” Sandy Belkengren, Richfield School Board treasurer, wrote in her scholarship recommendation letter that Stephanie’s insightfulness and professionalism were apparent from her initial interview for the student board position. “(Stephanie) possesses the ability to understand and identify with student concerns,” Belkengren wrote. “Her involvement in such a wide range of activities and experiences has provided a wealth of knowledge that forms a strong base for her ability to represent the student body.” Stephanie said her time on the school board has given her valuable experience in the world of education and for the path ahead. “I now understand why districts make levies, referendums, approves agendas, resolutions and presentations,” she said. “The members of the school board leave a legacy as education reformers. I hope to bring a legacy of my own when I become an elementary school teacher in the Richfield School District — and serve on the school board as chair — in my future career as an educator.” Greg Abbott is the communications director for the Minnesota School Boards Association. You can reach him at Bruce Lombard is the associate director of communications at the Minnesota School Boards Association. You can reach him at






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A Climate of Safety 2013


Speaker Joe Coles had the crowd on their feet and partnering up in an activity during his presentation on Rachel’s Challenge.

Fellow Keynote Speaker Shamus O’Meara talked about school safety’s four topics: Prevention, Crisis, Response and Recovery. A large crowd listens to Keynote Speaker Rick Kaufman talk about his response during the Columbine tragedy and how to prepare for a crisis.

The conversations in the hallway after a seminar are usually just as informative as what board members hear in the room. It is also a good time to network and hear from other board members. 22    MSBA Journal

MSBA’s Grace Keliher gave an overview of the 2013 legislative session, and some ideas about what is to come next year.

Attorney Jennifer Earley and MSBA’s Executive Director Kirk Schneidawind talked about the impact of the possible Safe Schools Act.


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re c o n f i g u r a t i o n

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collaboration celebration Contact

David Maroney, AIA/NCARB 800.545.3731

Innovation and Creativity for 21 st Century Teaching and Learning

September/October 2013    23

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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

Architects/Engineers/Facility Planners Architects Rego + Youngquist, inc. (Paul Youngquist) 7601 Wayzata Blvd., Ste. #200 St. Louis Park, MN 55426 952-544-8941, Fax 952-544-0585 ATS&R Planners/Architects/Engineers (Paul Erickson) 8501 Golden Valley Road, 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

Hallberg Engineering, Inc. (Richard Lucio) 1750 Commerce Court White Bear Lake, MN 55110 651-748-1100, Fax 651-748-9370

Wold Architects and Engineers (Vaughn Dierks) 305 St. Peter Street St. Paul, MN 55102 651-227-7773, Fax 651-223-5646

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

Athletic Sports Floors/Surfacing Fisher Tracks, Inc. (Jordan Fisher) 1192 235th Street Boone, IA 50036 515-432-3191, Fax 515-432-3193

Kodet Architectural Group, Ltd. (Edward Kodet) 15 Groveland Terrace Minneapolis, MN 55403 612-377-2737, Fax 612-377-1331

Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc. (Gary Prest) 201 Main Street SE Suite 325 Minneapolis, MN 55414 612-379-3400, Fax 612-379-4400

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

DLR Group (Christopher Gibbs) 520 Nicollet Mall, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-977-3500, Fax 612-977-3600

Paulsen Architects (Bryan Paulsen) 209 South 2nd Street, Suite 201 Mankato, MN 56001 507-388-9811, Fax 507-388-1761

GLTArchitects (Evan Larson) 808 Courthouse Square St. Cloud, MN 56303 320-252-3740, Fax 320-255-0683

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

28    MSBA Journal

Widseth Smith Nolting (Kevin Donnay) 7804 Industrial Park Road Baxter, MN 56425 218-316-3618, Fax 218-829-2517

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 Booth & Lavorato LLC (Laura Tubbs Booth) 10520 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 200 Minnetonka, MN 55305 763-253-4155, Fax 763-253-4160 Kennedy & Graven, Chartered (Neil Simmons) 470 U.S. Bank Plaza, 200 S. 6th St. Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-337-9300, Fax 612-337-9310 Knutson, Flynn & Deans (Thomas S. Deans) 1155 Centre Pointe Drive, Suite 10 Mendota Heights, MN 55120 651-222-2811, Fax 651-225-0600 Pemberton Law (Mike Rengel) 110 N. Mill Street Fergus Falls, MN 56537 218-736-5493, Fax 218-736-3950

Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A. (Joseph J. Langel) 730 2nd Ave S., Ste. 300 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-339-0060, Fax 612-339-0038 Construction Management & Consulting Services ICS Consulting, Inc. (Pat Overom) 5354 Edgewood Drive Mounds View, MN 55112 763-354-2670, Fax 763-780-2866 Kraus-Anderson Construction Company (John Huenink) 8625 Rendova Street NE Circle Pines, MN 55014 763-792-3616, Fax 763-786-2650 Metz Construction Management & Consulting, Inc. (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 (Brad Harper) 615 Olof Hanson Drive Faribault, MN 55021 507-384-6602, Fax 507-332-5528 The Minnesota Service Cooperatives (Jeremy Kovash) 1001 East Mount Faith Avenue Fergus Falls, MN 56537 218-739-3273, Fax 218-739-2459

Electrical Engineers/AV Systems Widseth Smith Nolting (Kevin Donnay) 7804 Industrial Park Road Baxter, MN 56425 218-316-3618, Fax 218-829-2517 Energy Solutions Johnson Controls, Inc. (Larry Schmidt) 2605 Fernbrook Lane N. Plymouth, MN 55447 763-585-5148, Fax 763-566-2208 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 or 763-552-6053 Fax 763-552-6055 MSBA-Sponsored MNTAAB (Minnesota Tax and Aid Anticipation Borrowing)Program MNTAAB (Patty Heminover, Springsted, Inc.) 800-236-3033 or 651-223-3058 Fax 651-268-5058 MSBA-Sponsored P-Card (Procurement Card) Program P-Card Program 800-891-7910 or 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 Ave 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

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

Fitness Equipment 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment (Shon Hartman) 7585 Equitable Drive Eden Prairie, MN 55344 952-240-4512, Fax 952-544-5053

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

Floor Coverings Hiller Commercial Floors (Dave Bahr) 2909 S. Broadway Rochester, MN 55904 507-254-6858 or 888-724-1766 Fax 507-288-8877

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

Health Insurance PreferredOne (Mike Thielen) 6105 Golden Hills Drive Golden Valley, MN 55416 763-847-3549, Fax 763-847-4010

Security/Communication Systems Arvig 888-992-7844

Indoor Air Quality Minnesota Department of Health Indoor Air Unit (John Olson) P.O. Box 64975 St. Paul, MN 55164-0975 651-201-4614, Fax 651- 201-4606 schoolenvironments

Software Systems PaySchools-Data Business Systems (Andy Eckles) 17011 Lincoln Ave Parker, CO 80134 303-779-6573; 855-210-8232 X 130 Fax 720-208-9852

Technology PaySchools-Data Business Systems (Andy Eckles) 17011 Lincoln Ave 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 E. Ave. Collinsville, OK 74021 866-574-9970, Fax 918-205-5009 Hoglund Bus Co., Inc. (Jason Anderson) 116 E. Oakwood Dr., PO Box 249 Monticello, MN 55362 800-866-3105, Fax 763-295-4992 Minnesota School Bus Operators Association (Shelly Jonas) 10606 Hemlock St. 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 Ave Becker, MN 55308 866-287-7278 or 763-262-3328, Fax 763-262-3332 Wireless Communications Arvig 888-992-7844

September/October 2013    29

Advertisers ATS&R Planners/Architects/Engineers.......................... Page 23 Booth & Lavorato LLC...................................................... Page 26 DLR Group......................................................................... Page 26 Eide Bailly........................................................................... Page 13 Johnson Controls, Inc....................................................... Page 25 Kennedy & Graven, Chartered .......................................... Page 7 Knutson, Flynn & Deans, P.A............................................ Page 23 Mackin Educational Resources......................................... Page 13 Midwest Dairy Council...................................................... Page 27 Minnesota Department of Health – Indoor Air Unit..... Page 21 MLA Architects.................................................................. Page 30 MSBAIT.............................................................................. Page 32 MSDLAF+............................................................................. Page 7 National Insurance Services, Inc...................................... Page 24 PreferredOne....................................................................... Page 2 Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A. ...................................... Page 17 Rupp, Anderson, Squires & Waldspurger, P.A................. Page 30 Taher, Inc........................................................................... Page 24 Telin Transportation Group.............................................. Page 12 Widseth Smith Nolting...................................................... Page 25

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tart work on Affordable Care Act this year


Q: What is the Affordable Care Act? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also referred to as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or ObamaCare, was signed into law in March of 2010. This law includes broad, sweeping changes to health care insurance. As 2014 approaches, many of the requirements of the ACA are just being implemented. The bottom line of the ACA is that it requires all U. S. citizens to have health care insurance. The goal of the ACA is to ultimately drive down the cost of insurance by creating a broader and more inclusive customer base.

Gary Lee, Associate Director of Management Services

MSBA recommends that school districts continue to work toward compliance of the ACA and not put this action off for a year.

Q: What do school districts need to do to get ready for the ACA? School districts need to take inventory of their unique mix of factors before proper strategies and actions can be taken. MSBA has partnered with the independent accounting firm of Eide Bailly to assist its member school districts in determining their current level of compliance and possible strategies for achieving compliance. Eide Bailly has developed an analytic tool that uses payroll information for all school district employees and provides comprehensive and detailed reporting for the administrative team. MSBA chose Eide Q: What are the effects of the ACA on Bailly because it can provide an unbiased school districts? strategy since it does not have a vested The effects of the ACA on school districts interest in any specific solution – it does not will vary and is highly dependent upon the provide insurance plans, reimbursement current level and type of health care benefits accounts, or savings accounts. Rather, Eide offered and the mix of employees. The ACA Bailly’s analytic tool provides a snapshot of is so broad and contains so many changes the school district’s position and guidance that identifying global effects is basically on finding solutions. impossible. For some school districts, the ACA will render the entire health insurance School districts will continue to partner benefit non-compliant, while, for other with the solution providers of their choice school districts, little -- if any -- changes will (service cooperatives, insurance brokers be necessary. These changes may include and agents, third party administrators, leveling the benefits across the organization PEIP, self-insurance, etc.) to implement so all employees have access to the same the strategy the school district has chosen. benefits; they may require school districts MSBA is in the planning stages of providing to increase their contributions or risk ACA training sessions that will feature exposure to penalties; they may require that Eide Bailly and solution providers. MSBA employees are offered new plans; and they is also meeting with statewide employee may push school districts into changing their organizations to explore a coordinated hiring practices. effort for deploying common and consistent information regarding the ACA. For school districts that already provide affordable health insurance for all eligible MSBA recommends that school districts employees (no more than 9.5 percent of an continue to work toward compliance of the employee’s salary is required to purchase ACA and not put this action off for a year. an individual health insurance plan), no Now is the perfect time to address the issues changes in operations may be necessary. because school districts are in negotiations However, for other school districts, the price with bargaining units and working on tag may be significant as they define their budgets for the upcoming year. exposure.

September/October 2013    31




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MSBA Journal: September-October 2013  

The September-October 2013 issue of the Minnesota School Boards Association Journal Magazine

MSBA Journal: September-October 2013  

The September-October 2013 issue of the Minnesota School Boards Association Journal Magazine