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July-August 2013

Lessons We Have Learned Recovery After a Tragedy Rachel’s Challenge Takes a Proactive Approach with School Safety

Volume 66, No. 1



A Climate of Safety

School district Employee Healthcare Costs Save 14%

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JULY 2013

4 �������������Independence Day (no meetings)


Divisions 4 5 6 28 31


STRAIGHT TALK Kirk Schneidawind, MSBA Executive Director


P RESIDENT’S COLUMN Walter Hautala, MSBA President

2 �������������Labor Day (no meetings) 27 �����������Last Day for Submitting Resolutions (tentative)

VENDOR DIRECTORY Pierre Productions & Promotions, Inc.  SK MSBA A Sandy Gundlach, MSBA Director of School Board Services

Articles 8 14 18 20 24

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.)

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

Lessons We Have Learned Scott Staska

The Fourth “R” of a Crisis: Recovery Shamus P. O’Meara Rachel’s Challenge Takes a Proactive Approach with School Safety Joe Coles School Social Workers are the Vital Link to School Success Tammie Knick and Heather Alden Pope Safe schools start with climate, design and security systems Christopher Gibbs

The MSBA Journal thanks the students of Monticello Public School for sharing their art in this issue. COVER ART:

Kaitlyn Kordell July/August 2013        3

C O N T E N T S J u l y / A u g u st 2 0 1 3     V O LU M E 6 6 , N U M B E R 1


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.

Safety “With the unfortunate, tragic circumstances in December in Newtown, it became really clear to all of us that we can’t wait, that we need to move into action right away.” Dan Hoverman, Mounds View Superintendent

“Hopefully the board will hang on the wall for 50 years and never have to be used as anything but a marker board. If you don’t have it, you have a classroom with no protection. With it, you at least have an opportunity to have some protection.” Scott Staska, ROCORI Superintendent, on his district purchasing bulletproof whiteboards

“No one wants a crisis to take place, but I can say the district, after the internal examination that has occurred over the past two months and the steps being put into place, will be better prepared for the next incident. I have experienced a number of crisis situations over the years; each and every one of them is different. They have their own unique circumstances. Therefore, no matter how well you plan and train for such situations, it will not be managed perfectly.” James Bauck, Eastern Carver County Superintendent

Bullying prohibition “We’re putting our school districts in a very tough spot here by saying ‘You’ve got to do this, but yet we’re not going to fund it.’” Rep. Kelby Woodard of Belle Plaine, after the anti-bullying bill passed May 6 in the Minnesota House of Representatives

Innovation Zone

“Unlimited information is available to everyone on the planet in the palm of our hands. You can work with anyone anywhere. This is a different world that our students will have to be successful in and compete in and collaborate in. Schools have to change.” Jay Haugen, Farmington Area Superintendent, on his district partnering with Spring Lake Park in an Innovation Zone Pilot Project that allows the two districts to share training resources, curriculum, and strategies on how to incorporate personal technology into daily lessons

2013 Education Bill “More money for education doesn’t absolutely guarantee success, but less money for education absolutely guarantees failure. We’re not going to improve test scores, close the achievement gap, or get our kids ready for a very competitive world by reducing the investment in education.” Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, on the $485 million increase to the education budget

“This is the best education bill to be signed in Minnesota history.” Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, chair of the Senate Education Finance Committee

All-Day Kindergarten “There are many states that have kindergarten today, and they still struggle. It’s being touted as a silver bullet, and it’s just not.” Rep. Kelby Woodard, R-Belle Plaine

S traight Talk B N C A uilding a


Kirk Schneidawind MSBA Executive Director

I look forward to the challenge and demands of my new role as your Association’s executive director and I am hopeful you are equally eager in helping us build your Next Century Association.




With little noise, your MSBA has been preparing for the future. Eighteen months ago, MSBA Executive Director Bob Meeks announced to the membership that he would be retiring and I would be replacing him as MSBA’s sixth executive director on July 1. Bob was MSBA’s executive director for 10 years. Prior to that, he was the Governmental Relations Director and staffer for 25-plus years before retiring after 35-plus years. He is a man of great work ethic, passion, and skills for “telling it like it is.” His positive contributions and impact on your Association will long be remembered. Some may question my “trainability” because of the duration of my on-the-job training, but I can assure you that I am in a much better position today because of that experience.

After representing school board members’ interests at the state capitol for the last 13 years, I have become even more convinced that governance at a local level is the most efficient and effective method to improve student achievement. In an annual survey done by Phi Delta Kappan, the public is asked the same question regarding the ethical expectations they hold of their elected representatives—from those who represent them in Washington, D.C., to our state Capitol to our local governments. Every year the answer is the same: School board members receive the highest mark on the “ethical expectation radar.” Surprising? Not really. School board members are the closest in proximity to their electorate. They see their constituents in the grocery store, at the summer parade and at many of the high school activities. In my view, school board members are held to the highest form of accountability. They oversee one of most prized resources in a community—our public school students. The policy and funding decisions that are made in the board room in some way impacts all of the citizens in the community. It is important not only to preserve a school board’s decision-making authority, but to enhance the school board members’ skills as they make policy and funding decisions that prepare our most valuable resources for the world they will be faced with after

graduation – a world much more diverse to reflect the growing diversity in the student population. Your MSBA staff will continue to promote the value and importance of school boards and public education. My commitment to our membership is to build a Next Century Association. That is not something I can do alone. It means taking input from the membership, having a competent and well-trained staff whose mindset is mission-driven to best serve our members. That means aligning our efforts with the board-adopted Association goals by providing support to school boards so they can focus their governance on results for increased student achievement for all students; promoting the value and importance of school boards and public education; advancing legislative positions adopted by our members; and training school board members in effective methods of governance and school district management. That means enhancing the quality and value of the services we provide for our members; and also means that we need to be bold in our efforts as we prepare your Association for the future. That also means that your Association will be one that will not only think strategically, but act strategically. Tapping into the use of today’s technological advantages will be just one way of improving and delivering board and advocacy training. This will also help us align with the demands of our membership. As more Millennials enter into the school board ranks, they will not only demand greater value from their Association, but will also come to expect greater use of technology in the delivery of services. As we proceed into the next phase of MSBA, I am confident that your Board of Directors has laid out a clear vision for the future of your Association. I am equally assured that we have qualified and competent staff to meet today’s needs of our membership and prepare your Association for the future. I look forward to the challenge and demands of my new role as your Association’s executive director, and I am hopeful you are equally eager in helping us build your Next Century Association. July/August 2013        5

President’s Column Safety comes in many forms


When parents are surveyed about schools, one of the highest concerns always turns out to be safety—we are entrusted to keep their children safe while they are in a school setting. Schools now do tornado drills and other types of safety drills. There are policies to address safety and bullying prevention. Schools also have to look at safety in getting children to the school. Buses may now have stop arms and seat belts. For years, schools have had crossing guards—anything to make sure the trip to school is safe.

Walter Hautala MSBA President

Safety starts with education. So what better place to educate people on any number of safety issues than school?

And after school, safety is a big concern in sports. Whether it is wearing helmets or re-examining how we treat students with concussions—we are constantly trying to do whatever we can to keep children safe. For those who say, “Where does this all stop? How safe do we really need to be?” I say that we always have, and will always continue to look for ways to increase safety in every part of society. As more and more people were injured or killed driving, laws were passed requiring seat belts. Schools offer driver’s education classes. The invention of the air bag has saved thousands of lives. And now laws are cracking down on texting while driving. For almost every activity, there is a safety component involved. From the days when people would dive into a pool, we started offering swimming lessons, putting lifeguards at public pools, teaching people how to use life vests when on the water for boating. When I went to school, we played on whatever equipment, wherever we could find it.

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Monkey bars with a paved asphalt surface below? No big deal...until the first kid was severely injured. Now we have programs like the National Playground Compliance Group to prevent injuries on school playgrounds. Safety starts with education. So what better place to educate people on any number of safety issues than school—from sports safety to transportation safety. Even hunting clubs have courses on gun safety for participants. Those safety precautions aren’t there to make sure I don’t go anywhere unless I wear a helmet and a suit of armor. I know we can’t protect people from everything. The precautions are there because the more we learn about safety—and ways to incorporate it into everything our children do—it makes sense. So whether you do an activity in school or out of school, I hope you get the training you need to have a safe summer for both you and your family.

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Lessons We Have Learned


On September 23, 2003, events unfolded at ROCORI High School that significantly changed the ROCORI School District. We experienced a school shooting in which, ultimately, two students died and another student was incarcerated for a long time.

Scott Staska

Since that event, our system has experienced a number of other emergency situations that have tested our district and community. Although we have experienced a number of extreme situations, each incident has allowed us to learn, grow and develop.

As a district, we committed to help others—if we were able to do so from our experiences. As we approach the 10th anniversary of our tragedy, we were asked by MSBA to share some of the lessons we have learned. INCIDENTS CAN HAPPEN ANYWHERE Perhaps the first and most important lesson learned from the ROCORI tragedy in 2003 is that incidents may happen anywhere. If a school shooting could happen at our high school, a similar event is possible in any other community. We all have the belief that our schools, students, staff and community are immune to extreme tragedy. We read or hear about incidents and tragedies in other places, but we really do not think it will happen in our own communities.

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The ROCORI School District is a pretty typical community and school system. In many ways, we are just like the schools all around us. We have good things happening in the classrooms across the district; we are actively engaged in academic improvement efforts; we have financial struggles; we have many students involved in activities; we have quality staff members providing the best services they are able to provide. We are very much like schools across the state of Minnesota. We also experienced the most serious tragedy that can happen on a school campus. If it can happen on our campus, it can also happen in any other setting. RELATIONSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT School systems are all about people—we are in the people business! Our task is to help young people develop and grow to realize their potential. Our focus is people helping people. More than any other business, our primary expenditures are for people—staff members to teach young people, support staff to enhance the educational work, and other staff to allow schools to function. We are a people business. Because we are focused on people, relationships among and between staff and students are the most important things we can develop. The conversations that occurred across our community following our tragedy—and through several incidents that have followed—continue to remind us to work on, build and develop relationships. As a district, we are certainly not perfect in our practice to build relationships. We are still human and will continue to make mistakes. However, we continue to place emphasis on initiatives, efforts, and strategies that can help improve interactions. We continue to remind ourselves that we are people—and need to learn about each other, be there for each other, and encourage each other. INTENSE MEDIA ATTENTION An intense tragedy in a school setting will bring intense media attention—both immediately and for an extended period after the event. Certainly a school shooting of any kind will draw media focus. The immediate media response to a tragic event is quite intense. School officials and authorities should expect many

different levels and types of media response. Television, radio, newspaper and other media arrive on the scene within minutes of a situation. The media, as part of our “instant” society, remain on site, cover the community, and present their perspective of information immediately and dramatically. Although legal processes unfold in a completely different manner and timeframe, media seeks to provide immediate answers to the general public. This makes for a very tense and difficult process. Working with the media requires an open approach, direct interaction, and as complete information as possible given the situation. At the same time, there is often a delicate balance of information that can be provided without violating data privacy expectations. Working with law enforcement and other communications officials is helpful in such circumstances. Long after a tragic incident is over, the media attention remains. We have experienced media contact in the first year following our situation and on “significant” anniversaries since. When incidents occur in other settings or other locations, media contacts will be made to learn about the impact of the event. When situations occur in other places, members of the media will inquire to determine if there are similarities or differences in the conditions. Media presence is intense and long-lasting. EMERGENCY PROCEDURES ARE IMPORTANT Before, during and after the tragic events at ROCORI, we have learned that it is important to have security plans in place, to evaluate those plans regularly and to strengthen steps as it is possible to do so. At the time of our incident, we had emergency procedures in place. As a district, we practiced the procedures and we continue to do so. The fact that we practiced the procedures, in my best professional judgment, allowed the emergency response to unfold in a very deliberate and practical manner. Even so, we learned there were things we could improve and there were simple steps that we could take to enhance our response. Shortly after the incident, we implemented a more consistent use of name badges and IDs, for example. There are multiple reasons for identification steps—

July/August 2013        9


assistance to emergency responders in the heat of an incident, tracking individuals within the system, helping students to have a level of comfort with people in the building, processing visitors within our system. In addition, we have learned to pull together emergency packets for each of our buildings to gather all critical information in one location. We have learned that our processes for evacuation, identification of secure and unsecure rooms, access to maps and building information, and other steps need to be evaluated and updated regularly. We have learned that incorporating emergency responders in our drills and practices can improve our efforts and procedures. We have learned that security procedures and processes come in many different layers. Adding tools to assist and provide options, providing good information, and/or continually defining steps in the emergency processes help to make us more effective in responding to emergencies. Emergency response unfolds in many different ways and with many different layers. Extending our ability to respond only strengthens our ability to meet the demands of the emergency situation. We need to continue to remind ourselves of the importance of many of the steps because, even though we experienced tragedy, it is easy to become complacent or forget about the value of particular measures. It is easy to forget about the value of ID tags. It is easy to take drills for granted or allow them to become “routine.” It is important to remind ourselves of the meaning and the nature of the security steps. ATTEND TO THE PROFESSIONALS The effects of a serious situation last a long time. Although many of us believe we are strong and are 10        MSBA Journal

able to survive tragic events, it is important to take time to attend to the professionals involved in a serious situation. Those most directly involved in a situation certainly need assistance, support, and encouragement. The ability to debrief from the incident and to share personal experience is important to a healthy response to a tragedy. This is true for individuals across the building or system in which an incident occurs. Also important is the opportunity to provide care to the caregivers. One of the most insightful comments I received following our tragedy was a reminder to be sure that leaders within our system had opportunity to receive support and care. ENCOURAGE REPORTING Individuals holding knowledge or experience that might be valuable in addressing a situation need to be encouraged to share their information with appropriate leaders. A positive and respectful reporting process is essential to the ability to anticipate issues, to respond appropriately when an event unfolds, or in taking steps that might prevent something from happening. Sharing information can help prevent many different kinds of situations. We have learned, from training and experts in bully prevention, that if individuals are aware of behaviors and report them, there is a much better chance to respond in a positive manner. The same is true of information that may lead to the prevention of other serious incidents. Emily Carda

Students, staff, parents, community and any other person who may have pertinent information should be encouraged to report it in a timely and appropriate manner. As leaders, it is important for us to encourage timely and appropriate reporting of information.


Kate Johnson

Immediately following our incident, and frequently after other incidents around the nation, there are thoughts expressed about increasing the amount of physical security systems in school settings. There are calls for implementation of metal detectors, security scans, or other physical measures. While there may be a need for physical security systems in some situations, each individual school setting needs to be carefully considered. The most important system to apply is common sense. In most cases, like that of ROCORI, adoption of a system of metal detectors would require an intense application of resources. Consider the amount of staffing and structure needed to provide security at airports. In order to provide similar levels (which are not fool-proof either) of security in a school setting, a similar deployment of personnel and structure would be needed. There are certainly steps that can be taken. At ROCORI, we have improved our camera systems to help monitor our facilities and observe interactions (when needed). We have taken steps to change our entrances and strengthen our ability to control access to our facilities. We have improved our efforts to secure doors and windows within our buildings. We have included security provisions in construction efforts and have placed more electronic processes in our system to enhance control. Each step has been evaluated based on our community needs and expectations. RECOVERY TAKES A LONG TIME The healing and recovery process from an extreme tragedy is lengthy and requires resources of many different kinds. It is my experience and understanding that the more severe or intense the situation, the longer it is likely for the recovery to take. Our experience would suggest that there are many layers to recovery. There is an initial response to the tragedy or emergency situation. The advice offered to us was that a

“return to normal” routine and procedures as quickly as possible was an important step to provide stability for our students, staff and community. Securing resources to assist with social and emotional recovery was also critical on both a short-term and longterm basis. We were able to bring local and regional resources to provide mental health support. We were able to secure professional training opportunities to help our staff understand the steps necessary for recovery. We were able to tie in to agencies, programs, and expertise to assist with planning and opportunities to grow. Many steps that were first taken in response to the school shooting still take place in the ROCORI Schools, and several have been expanded. The district uses a Respect Retreat for ninth-grade students, which has grown into programs in the middle school and is moving into the elementary level. We received support from parents and community members who were, and still are, willing to be a “Friendly Presence” in our schools to interact with students. July/August 2013        11

Those efforts made a difference for students immediately— and continue to make a difference today. In many ways, there are still steps to recovery unfolding— even almost a decade later. Each instance that occurs somewhere in the nation brings back memories and emotions which indicate there is still healing occurring.

EXPERIENCE DOES NOT MEAN EXPERTISE Although we had a tragic experience, and several other significant events in the years following, the fact that an incident occurred does not make the district or individuals experts. We have experience, not expertise.

RELATIONSHIPS WITH EMERGENCY OFFICIALS ARE CRITICAL We have had, and continue to cultivate, positive relationships with emergency responders in our area. Having relationships with law enforcement, first responders, fire and rescue, and other emergency officials is important in allowing an effective response to an emergency situation. The most critical time to develop the relationship is prior to the actual need for response. We work with law enforcement officials, both through our School Resource Officer and in independent interactions, in many different settings. Local police officers, including the chief of police, are involved in our lockdown practices and drills. We consult with local police on many different matters and issues. As a district, we open our buildings to other emergency drills and practices—especially those that are needed by emergency responders. We have given maps of our buildings to fire and rescue officials, as well as law

enforcement. There are annual efforts to walk through buildings to better understand the facilities and allow officials to know our sites.

We do not, however, have all the answers to tragic events. As in many educational experiences, we learn and grow from each other. We can share our information, how we have grown, and what we have learned. We gather ideas and information from others. We, too, learn as situations unfold. We learn from the experiences of others. We grow in knowledge and understanding with each event in our own system and in observing the processes and procedures others use. We have learned a great deal during and following our tragic event. We continue to learn and grow as we move along. We also want our experience to be of assistance to others—if at all possible—and we have committed (from the very beginning) to help others learn from our situation. Scott Staska is the superintendent for ROCORI Public Schools. To contact him, email at



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The Fourth “R”of a Crisis:


Missy Zillmer


Shamus P. O’Meara

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, has caused school districts to review their emergency preparedness, and raised concerns about the safety of students and staff. The recent tornado disaster in Moore, Oklahoma, highlights that emergencies of all types can strike school communities, and that crisis plans must be developed to prepare school districts for “all hazards,” from natural disasters to health crises and incidents of violence. Effective emergency management plans utilize important federal guidelines, including the four phases of emergency management (prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery) that engage community partners in effective strategies to assess and mitigate risk, avoid injury and exposure, promptly respond to any emergency, and deliver

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timely and appropriate resources to facilitate recovery following a crisis. Importantly, the recovery phase of emergency management must be addressed in the preparedness phase of planning for a school crisis. The Minnesota School Safety Center, in its Comprehensive School Safety Guide, states:

The goal of recovery is to restore the learning environment and infrastructure of the school as quickly as possible. The plan for recovery needs to be developed during the preparedness phase, not after an emergency or crisis situation. Recovery consists of four main components: emotional, academic, physical/structural and business/fiscal. In recovery planning, all four components need to be addressed. The recovery process may be short-term or long-term depending on the circumstances of the event. Time and resources need to be allocated accordingly.1 By using a preplanned, structured approach to address emergencies, school districts develop a framework that allows for positive actions and flexible response to the crisis situation at hand. Minnesota statutes, recognizing the importance of school safety, require that schools develop their emergency management plans in collaboration with community partners. This approach recognizes the important partnership between school, law enforcement, fire, medical, and other community assets to share information, resources and ideas for the development of an effective emergency management system. This collaboration is critical in the planning for recovery actions that follow a school crisis. The school district’s emergency response team must promptly and accurately assess the crisis situation and engage several

Brennon Fleagle

resources to assist recovery operations. In a natural disaster or weather event, school buildings or infrastructure may be damaged or destroyed. There may be injuries or deaths involving students or staff. Regular communication systems can be rendered inoperable or destroyed. Incidents of violence may involve law enforcement operations and a lengthy criminal investigation. With the goal of returning to learning and restoring the infrastructure of the school as quickly as possible, there are many recovery action items that must be planned before a crisis strikes. Federal guidance from the U.S. Department of Education,2 and practical reflection, suggests that schools should determine the roles and responsibilities of staff and others who will assist in recovery actions during the preparedness phase of emergency management. These steps include having

1. %20Safety%20Guide.pdf 2. For example, the U.S. Department of Education Emergency Planning website, emergencyplan; and Emergency Response and Crisis Management Technical Assistance (TA) Center,;

July/August 2013        15

The Fourth “R”of a Crisis: Recovery

district counselors train school staff to assess the emotional needs of students and colleagues to determine intervention needs. The district, in collaboration with its community partners, should also establish a Crisis Intervention Team that will be involved in recovery efforts. The Crisis Intervention Team can be a centralized recovery team, or individual school-based teams that address recovery at the local school level. In either model, it is important to be flexible to address changing circumstances through allocation of additional resources. The roles of the Crisis Intervention Team should be defined, and members should participate in practice and mock crisis trainings to exercise and understand how the team will be deployed following a crisis situation. Recovery efforts will likely involve both buildings and people. Depending on the crisis event, the teams preselected to address recovery may need to engage a safety audit to assess the safety of buildings and infrastructure needs. The school district’s insurer, as well as its architect and legal counsel, should be consulted in the emergency planning phase to discuss and plan for crisis recovery as well as possible liability issues. Current building plans and facilities information should be updated and readily available following a crisis. The district and community partners should have in place memoranda of understanding, mutual aid agreements or similar arrangements to facilitate joint cooperation, and effective and timely recovery resources, and avoid jurisdictional disputes. It is also important to have a protocol in place to address the varied issues presented by multiple third parties that may provide services to the school district following a crisis. In addition, the district’s recovery planning should include the emotional needs of students, staff, families and responders. The district’s Crisis Intervention Team should plan for grief counseling and mental health resources that can be utilized in recovery efforts. Depending on the crisis event, age-appropriate group interventions may be beneficial to students and staff. Following a crisis, it is critical to maintain effective internal and external communication.

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Federal guidance recommends daily debriefings for staff, responders and others assisting recovery efforts to support those helping others and to maintain professionalism and support for sustained recovery operations. The district’s recovery planning should also include regular community updates through a public relations resource or other predesignated representative who can provide regular effective information to the public. Depending on the nature of the crisis event, recovery efforts may take many months, or even years, with varying issues to address. Emotions may also be triggered by anniversaries of the crisis or other causes creating a need for further support services. Recovery planning should include appropriate recognition of these situations through memorials, group events or similar community activities. Recovery actions following a crisis also include evaluating the incident and the effectiveness of the school district’s emergency management system: How can operations be improved? What additional resources are needed? Responders and team members should be interviewed, and critical information gathered and assessed. The district’s emergency management plan should be reviewed, mindful of this important evaluation, and adjusted as necessary. By engaging in emergency preplanning for recovery actions, school districts will be better equipped to manage and deliver effective resources during the important recovery phase following a school crisis. Shamus O’Meara is a partner with the Minneapolis law firm of O’Meara, Leer, Wagner & Kohl, P.A. He represented two Minnesota school districts involved in school shooting incidents, works with state and federal agencies and education organizations to promote safety in schools and on campuses, and serves as an expert witness and consultant to educational institutions on safety and security matters.

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Rachel’s Challenge

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Takes a Proactive Approach with School Safety

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Joe Coles

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In my 35 years of working in education, school safety has certainly been an interesting topic. I have found that a lot of schools have been very reactive in this area. When there is a crisis, they spend a lot of money and time reacting to what has happened. They want to see what they can do differently to prevent it from happening again. I find that a lot of schools want to do things that are measurable. They want to be able to see and feel the results of their actions. Some of this is very important. But there are two areas where we need to be very proactive. These areas are not as measurable. First, I believe that building relationships to prevent a crisis from happening is huge.

Kate Johnson

If we recognize, anticipate and address the needs of out-of-control and at-risk students by building relationships with them, then we can deal with these individuals and be proactive in stopping negative behaviors. Second, it is very important for the staff to teach students the social, emotional, and ethical skills they need in order to handle these conflicts. These skills will support nonviolent conflict resolution, flexible problem-solving, and learning. There needs to be a school-wide approach where adults and students work together to create a climate for learning and safety. Rachel’s Challenge mission statement reads: “We exist to inspire, equip and empower every person to create a permanent positive

culture change in their school, business and community by starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion.”

into a school or bring something into a school, they will find a way. The key is to help prevent them from wanting to do these things!

If you visit with school principals, the students that they worry about the most are those that have not had positive role models or no role models at all growing up. How can we expect young people to be good parents if they didn’t have a positive role model in that area growing up? We must replace these cycles and help them develop proper skills in being a good parent. By doing this, we can assure that their children will have positive role models when they grow up. I call this cycle replacing!

By promoting these relationships, students will experience a feeling of social and emotional safety that will enhance learning and healthy development. Teaching students the skills, knowledge, and beliefs that foster core social and emotional competencies is a major strategy that creates safer and more caring schools. Emotional safety refers to accepting and feeling safe with your own internal feelings, thoughts, and impulses.

These strategies are more difficult to measure than buying a metal detector or putting locks on the doors, but I believe they are far more important. If a person wants to get

Joe Coles is a Kansas native who has been a teacher, coach, counselor, school administrator and athletic director. Part of the Rachel’s Challenge team, he will be the closing speaker for MSBA’s Summer Seminar.



Rachel’s Challenge Objectives for Schools: • Create a safe learning environment for all students by re-establishing civility and delivering proactive antidotes to school violence and bullying. • Improve academic achievement by engaging students’ hearts, heads and hands in the learning process. • Provide students with social/ emotional education that is culturally relevant. • Train adults to inspire, equip, and empower students to effect permanent positive change.

health care alliance

Join the hundreds of Minnesota school districts, cities and counties that have joined forces to provide affordable and high quality health coverage to their employees. Contact your Minnesota Service Cooperative, agent or Blue Cross sales representative to learn more about this powerful health care alliance.

Lakes Country Service Cooperative (Fergus Falls) (218) 739-3273 ~

Northeast Service Cooperative (Mountain Iron) (218) 741-0750 ~

Northwest Service Cooperative (Thief River Falls) (218) 681-0900 ~

Resource Training & Solutions (St. Cloud) (320) 255-3236 ~

South Central Service Cooperative (North Mankato) (507) 389-5109 ~

Southeast Service Cooperative (Rochester) (507) 281-6673 ~

Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative (Marshall) (507) 537-2240 ~

July/August 2013        19

School Social Workers

are the Vital Link to

School Success

The passing of the Rehabilitation Act/Section 504 (1973) and Individuals with Disabilities Act (1975), created a new role for school social workers and delineated some of the services to be provided. Social work services in schools, as identified in section 300.34(c)(14), included: • Preparing a social or developmental history on a child with a disability • Group and individual counseling with the child and family • Working in partnership with parents and others on those problems in a child’s living situation (home, school, and community) that affect the child’s adjustment in school • Mobilizing school and community resources to enable the child to learn as effectively as possible in his or her educational program • Assisting in developing positive behavioral intervention strategies


Tammie Knick and Heather Alden Pope

Most recently, because of their knowledge, skills, and values, school social workers are being recognized as important visionary leaders in two major movements in education: Response to Intervention (RtI) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) (Johnson, 2012). Kate Johnson

Although the profession of school social worker has been around for more than a century, many people still do not understand in what capacity a school social worker functions in the educational setting. Partially, this is due to the ever-changing role of the school social worker. This year marks the 106th anniversary of the profession of school social work as it originated in Chicago during the settlement house movement (Johnson, 2012). Initially, school social workers were known as visiting teachers, and their work centered on visiting schools and homes in order to work closely with and foster harmony between schools and community groups to promote understanding and communication. During the early years of the profession, school social workers met with families in their homes to facilitate the children’s education and to ensure children attended school after the passing of the compulsory attendance law. School social workers became the vital link between home, school and community because they understood the social needs of the underprivileged families and filled the important role of advocating for children and families.

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The uniqueness of having school social workers implementing RtI is that they use what’s known as an “ecological perspective,” which includes looking at children, families, cultures, physical and social environments, and policies to identify the strengths among these systems, and to develop evidencebased prevention and intervention programs and practices in the education setting. School social workers are part of a multidisciplinary team that includes school psychologists, school nurses, school counselors and chemical health specialists, providing a continuum of care. School social workers also use “holistic thinking” to provide a paradigm for understanding how systems and their interactions can maintain a student’s academic, social, or emotional behavior. School social workers serve as a resource to teachers and other school staff on understanding the process and requirements of RtI initiatives. Through the process of RtI, school social workers use a system-wide approach to provide prevention and intervention services using a three-tier model of implementation. This approach allows for early identification to help resolve issues or barriers to student success. School social workers assist school staff to understand mental health and behavioral concerns of students identified as needing assistance, and the potential impact of chosen interventions.

School Social Workers Response to Intervention Implementation Model

Intensive, Individual Interventions • Community liaison to ensure adequate and appropriate resources for students and families in need • Helping students to develop and maintain social, emotional and academic competencies


of the student population

Targeted Group Interventions • Social skills instruction

• Crisis response for students in critical need • Individual counseling services • Functional Behavior Assessment

• Comprehensive family services

• Development and monitoring on Behavioral Intervention Plans (BIP)

• Small group counseling services • Group behavioral strategies

• Mental health services including psychoeducation and therapy

• Classroom coaching and consultation

15% of the student

• Comprehensive formal and informal ecological assessments including academic functioning, social/emotional and mental health functioning, adaptive functioning, and family and community interactions

• School-based mentor program • Truancy prevention


• Link schools and families with child-serving and community agencies to assist with housing, transportation, health care, nutrition, and financial support

Universal School-Wide Interventions

• Parent education groups Copyright of Minnesota School Social Workers Association May 2013

• Consultation to and with educators to ensure understanding and support of struggling learners

• Culturally responsive practices • Positive school climate

80% of the student population

• Development of Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) • Bullying prevention initiatives • Parent and community partnerships • Crisis prevention and management • Social skills and character education instruction • ATOD prevention programs • Data-based decision-making • Student/teacher assistance team member

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) falls under the umbrella of RtI and epitomizes the work of the school social worker. SEL plays a critical role in improving children’s academic performance, social interactions and mental health.

July/August 2013        21

School Social Workers are the Vital Link to School Success

SEL is the process through which we learn to recognize and manage emotions, care about others, make good decisions, behave ethically and responsibly, develop positive relationships, and avoid negative behaviors (Zins et. al. 2004). School social workers implement SEL by teaching children specific skills such as how to calm themselves when angry, make friends, resolve conflicts respectfully, make ethical and safe choices, and contribute constructively to their community (Payton et. al., 2008). School social workers utilize evidence-based SEL programs to teach students the specific skills needed to become productive citizens. School social workers also collaborate with educators to integrate these skills into the core curriculum on a daily basis. Children who have not developed these skills tend to struggle academically, socially, emotionally and behaviorally. Children with mental health disorders struggle even more so with acquiring these skills. Due to the fact that all students must attend school, there is an imperative need to have school social workers in school to support these students. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five children have a mental health disorder, yet few of them have been properly diagnosed and fewer still don’t receive treatment to support their healthy functioning (Merikangas et. al., 2010). Children are more than capable of accessing learning and experiencing social success when they have the skills and tools to manage their daily life. School social workers are able to work within the school system to assist in identifying students with mental health disorders, assessing students’ needs, and developing a plan to give students the tools they need to be successful. Examples of this work may include school social workers teaching social thinking skills to children with autism spectrum disorders, behavior management and coping Collin Scherber strategies to children with depression, anxiety, a mood disorder or oppositional defiant disorder, impulse control to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or organizational skills to children with fetal alcohol syndrome.

22        MSBA Journal

School social workers also address the acute needs of students who are in crisis, or whose families are in a situation where support is needed to stabilize the environment or person. Crises that may arise include but are not exclusive to: suicidal ideation, domestic violence, sexual violence, homelessness, grief and loss, and child abuse or neglect. Many of these children can be seen walking the halls of our schools. They deserve to feel safe and supported so they can access learning at their highest potential, and develop healthy relationships which give them the security to take academic and social risks. So how are school social workers linked to school success? Students’ academic achievement is the priority of all school social workers, as they are responsible for assisting kids to overcome the barriers that are in the way of their learning. School social workers are travelers with the children, their families and school staff, helping them to achieve academic and social success. Students who develop meaningful relationships with adults at school are more likely to attend school. The more time students spend in school, the more exposure to curriculum they receive, which leads to increased academic success. Students who learn coping skills will be more focused in the classroom, which leads to greater engagement in their learning. Students who learn how to make good decisions or to solve problems will have greater self-esteem and confidence in their abilities. Students who learn to manage their emotions will have greater self-control and ability to develop social competencies, which leads to a healthier, happy lifestyle. Children are often the “canaries” who will speak or act up when something in their environment is amiss, just as the canaries served that purpose in the mines for the miners. Children will share when someone listens and will trust when someone is authentic with them. They deserve the greatest attention, as they are the future stakeholders and decision makers; they will remember when they were listened to and cared for, as well as when they were invisible or ignored. With the help and support of school social workers, the outlook for students experiencing educational, social or emotional barriers to learning can become more

optimistic and full of hope for a better future. School social workers are the vital link between schools, students and families, and the community, often being the constant variable for all of these systems.

Meghanne Bartlett

Tammie Knick, LICSW, is the Minnesota School Social Workers Association President; and Heather Alden Pope, LICSW, is the Minnesota School Social Workers Association Past President and 2012 National School Social Worker of the Year. References Johnson, A. (2012). “For school social workers: The changing role of the school social worker.” National Association of Social Workers Illinois Chapter. Retrieved from: Merikangas, K.R., He, J., Burstein, M., Swanson, SA., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., Benjet, C., Georgiades, K., & Swendsen, J. (2010). “Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Study - Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A).” Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(10), 980-989. Payton, J., Weissberg, R.P., Durlak, J.A., Dymnicki, A.B., Taylor, R.D., Schellinger, K.B., & Pachan, M. (2008). “The positive impact of social and emotional learning for kindergarten to eighth-grade students: Findings from three scientific reviews.” Chicago, IL: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Zins, J. E., Bloodworth, M.R., Weissberg, R.P., Walberg, H.J. (2004). “The scientific base linking social and emotional learning to school success.” In Zins, J. E. Editor, Weissberg, R.P. Editor, Wang, M.C. Editor, & Walberg, H.J. Editor Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning: What Does the Research Say? (pp. 3-22), Teachers College Press, NY.

July/August 2013        23

Emily Carda

Safe schools

Start with Climate, Design and Security Systems

Christopher Gibbs


Concerns for school safety and security are pivotal in every community. School districts all over the country struggle with maintaining a balance between creating a user-friendly, welcoming school climate and providing a facility that is secure from unwanted intruders. There is no catch-all solution—each facility needs to be assessed individually with an eye toward the building’s structure, age of students, building uses, and natural phenomena likely to occur in the area.

Safety and security topics fall into three general categories: those who wish to do physical or emotional harm to persons (both intruders and students), those who wish to do harm to property (theft and vandalism), and natural phenomena (tornado, rain, fire). Safety concerns focus on the physical structure of the building, while security concerns focus on intentional and deliberate actions of individuals. A security expert can devise a district-wide plan, but the educator’s

24        MSBA Journal

signage and landscape to clearly guide people and vehicles to and from the proper entrances. The goal is to unobtrusively direct the flow of people while decreasing the opportunity for crime. Creating barriers to entry discourages outsiders from unauthorized access; creating barriers for unauthorized egress discourages students from leaving the building. If it is hard to get out, they might not even try. Passive controls include strong doors and hardware, perimeter fences, and corridor bisecting doors. An auto lock-down system provides a more stringent level of access control, and may be considered once other more cost-effective measures have been implemented.

Sammy Penn

Natural Surveillance: A person is less likely to commit a crime if they think someone will see them do it. Visibility is created by passive elements such as good sight lines, interior and exterior lighting, windows, doorless restrooms, height- and density-appropriate landscaping and widened alcoves. Teachers should catch a student’s eye and make daily contact with troubled students. The best thing a school can do is improve access control and allow the office staff to see the front door. During the day, visitors should be funneled through the office before entering the rest of the building. Sidelights, or windows next to classroom doors, allow teachers to keep an eye on corridors or adjacent student activity areas and quickly see who is entering the room. Electronic surveillance systems

perspective is critical to the success of any policy. An incremental approach will allow a district to test systems over time before installing in every school, saving potential expenditures on solutions that are not necessary. Three main components of an integrated safety policy are climate, design, and security systems.


Norms: Practiced procedures produce effective responses. Knowing what to do in a dangerous situation is crucial to success. All school staff should practice emergency drills and exercises. The use of security devices, such as metal detectors, should be governed by procedure and utilized according to board policy. Measures to keep drugs, alcohol and weapons from entering the school should be in place and monitored daily. Attitudes: A school culture that supports students, parents and all staff reporting suspicious behavior is key to a sound safety policy. All adults on campus, including custodians and volunteers, have a responsibility to support this approach.


Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is an approach to deterring unwanted behavior. Four principles of CPTED are Natural Access Control, Natural Surveillance, Territorial Reinforcement and Maintenance.

Financing available through

Access Control: CPTED utilizes walkways, fences, lighting, July/August 2013        25

can provide an added level of surveillance to these components. Territorial Reinforcement and Maintenance: Sites and buildings that are well-kept tell a potential offender that the district will take action if there is a crime committed. While components such as fences, signs and quality landscaping help convey that message, quality maintenance is a strong reinforcement. Tagging should be fully removed within 24 hours. Landscaping should be well maintained. Exteriors should be painted on a schedule. School spirit signs and posters, addressing positive attitude messages and anti-bullying campaigns, should be prevalent both within and without.

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Hardware: Teachers need to be able to secure their classrooms from the inside in the event an unauthorized person has gained entry to the building. Classroom door handles and locks must meet fire code requirements for exits; it is recommended, then, that the local fire marshall approve classroom door locks prior to installation. Technology: CCTV and other surveillance systems can be very expensive and may not be appropriately designed for the facility. A failure to integrate the use of technology equipment with human, procedure and other school safety strategies will lead to limited success. Other solutions to existing building materials can provide more cost-effective solutions. One example is a new transparent film installed over access-point windows, creating a barrier that helps keep the glass intact after gunshots or impact. This barrier takes time to penetrate and allows staff time to respond. Every classroom should have a telephone that allows occupants to contact both the office and emergency personnel. Policies: Every school needs an emergency plan tailored to the age of the students. For example, elementary students need more guidance in emergencies, but older students can make better or more rational decisions. A widely recommended resource is the “Safe Schools Plan” from the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) ( SafeSchoolsGuide.pdf‎). Christopher Gibbs is a member of the American Institute of Architects and is a partner with the DLR Group. To reach Christopher, you can email him at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Larson Engineering, Inc. (Michael Murphy) 3524 Labore Road White Bear Lake, MN 55110 651-481-9120, Fax 651-481-9201

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

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

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

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

28        MSBA Journal

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

MSBA Playground Compliance Program (in partnership with National Playground Compliance Group, LLC) (Tim Mahoney) PO Box 506 Carlisle, IA 50047 866-345-6774, Fax 515-989-0344 Attorneys Kennedy & Graven, Chartered (Neil Simmons) 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 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 Fitness Equipment 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment (Shon Hartman) 7585 Equitable Drive Eden Prairie, MN 55344 952-240-4512, 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 Health Insurance PreferredOne (Mike Thielen) 6105 Golden Hills Drive Golden Valley, MN 55416 763-847-3549, Fax 763-847-4010

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 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/Communication Systems Arvig 888-992-7844 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

July/August 2013        29

Advertisers ATS&R Planners/Architects/Engineers.......................... Page 12 Eide Bailly........................................................................... Page 13 Hoglund Bus Co., Inc........................................................ Page 26 Kennedy & Graven, Chartered .......................................... Page 7 Knutson, Flynn & Deans, P.A............................................ Page 23 Mackin Educational Resources......................................... Page 27 The Minnesota Service Cooperatives............................... Page 19 MSBAIT.............................................................................. Page 32 MSDLAF+............................................................................. Page 7 Paulsen Architects.............................................................. Page 13 PreferredOne....................................................................... Page 2 Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A. ...................................... Page 17 Rupp, Anderson, Squires & Waldspurger, P.A................. Page 30


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p ealing with a tornado and its aftermath


Sandy Gundlach, MSBA Director of School Board Services

Most school board members likely will be members of a board that will have to deal with at least one major crisis during their tenures. As a former board member, I have a few insights about governing during a crisis.

Proximity On March 29, 1998, at about 5:25 p.m., a series of tornadoes struck St. Peter and the surrounding areas. Earlier in the day, the superintendent, two principals, the curriculum director, and two board members, including myself, had flown to Chicago to attend a conference. During the opening keynote session, someone tapped on my shoulder and told me that a tornado had struck St. Peter and the damage was widespread, electricity and phone service were down, roads in the hardest-hit areas were impassable, and that the National Guard had been activated to help manage the initial emergency and look for victims. Naturally, each of us worried about our families and friends, our students and their families, our staff and their families, and our school and the community. We needed to get back to St. Peter as soon as possible. The superintendent took charge and rebooked our return flights so we could leave the next morning. Meanwhile, back in St. Peter, after the storm had passed and things settled down, district staff carefully began to assess the damage. Even 500 miles away, our superintendent took charge of the situation and was in contact with district staff as soon as phone service was restored. Hire Good People Many board members believe that a district is only as good as the people it employs, and that sentiment is especially true during a crisis. Effective boards employ a superintendent and delegate authority to the superintendent to lead and manage the district. Like most boards, we worked hard to be clear about “whose job is it?” Our board supported the superintendent and district staff as they worked to assess the damage and develop and implement a plan to return students to school for the remainder of the year and fix damaged buildings and structures. We didn’t have a lot of time to study the issues before

making a decision, so the board relied on the superintendent and staff for guidance as we made decisions. Ultimately, the board trusted the superintendent and staff because we were clear about each other’s roles and responsibilities. Communication Communication is a vital component of a successful organization and good communication is especially important when dealing with a crisis. In situations like this, a district needs a spokesperson. In our case, the superintendent handled all questions from the media and community about the school district’s tornado-related needs. The board chair helped when needed (for example: lobby for tornado relief funding, etc.). Having a district spokesperson was important because the board was assured the information provided was both accurate and timely. The board also drafted an open letter to the community that was published in local newspapers. Specifically, the board acknowledged the impact the tornado had on our friends, families, and the community and shared the school district’s plan to get the students back to school for the remainder of the year. The letter generated a lot of positive feedback from staff and the community. Good Insurance I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention how important it was have a good insurance policy and to have smart people advocating for our district. At the time, the district was, and still is, a member of the Minnesota School Boards Association Insurance Trust (MSBAIT). The MSBAIT staff was great to work with! They were smart and very knowledgeable! They really advocated for the district to get the most return on our insurance claim. Ultimately, I learned that districts need good insurance coverage and who you work with is important.

July/August 2013        31




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MSBA Journal: July-August 2013  

Minnesota School Board's 2013 July-August Journal Magazine

MSBA Journal: July-August 2013  

Minnesota School Board's 2013 July-August Journal Magazine