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May-June 2012

Volume 64, No. 6

Going Year-Round Minnesota’s NCLB Waiver Prevents “Slow-motion Train Wreck” Cabinet to Cloud: Click Here to See my Learning

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VO L U M E 6 4 , N U M B E R 6

Calendar M AY 2 0 1 2 2–4 .........MASBO Annual Conference 7–10 .......FREE BoardBook Webinars 17–18 .....MSBA Board of Directors’ Annual Meeting 23 ...........Minnesota School District Liquid Asset Fund Plus Meeting 28 ...........Memorial Day (no meetings)

4 5 6 28 31

JUNE 2012 14 ...........MSBA Insurance Trust Meeting


J U LY 2 0 1 2

STRAIGHT TALK Bob Meeks, MSBA Executive Director


PRESIDENT’S COLUMN Kent Thiesse, MSBA President VENDOR DIRECTORY Pierre Productions & Promotions, Inc. ASK MSBA Sandy Gundlach, Director of School Board Services

4 .............Independence Day (no meetings)

5 .............Early Bird Workshops 5 .............MSBA Board of Directors’ Meeting 5 .............MSBA Insurance Trust Meeting 5–6 .........MSBA Summer Seminar 7 .............Charter School Training 7 .............MSBA Phase I & II Combination 7 .............Minnesota School District Liquid Asset Fund Plus Meeting 14 ...........Primary Election Day (no meetings or activities 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.)

C O N T E N T S M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 2


Articles 8





CABINET TO CLOUD: CLICK HERE TO SEE MY LEARNING Jen Green, Stacy Warneke, Justin Jourdan, and Jen Hegna





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

Connor McLaughlin MAY/JUNE 2012


OFFICERS President: Kent Thiesse, Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial President-Elect: Walter Hautala, Mesabi East 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: Marilynn Forsberg, Spring Lake Park District 6: Kevin Donovan, Mahtomedi District 7: Roz Peterson, Lakeville Area District 8: Elona Street-Stewart, St. Paul District 9: Karen Kirschner, Mora District 10: Dana Laine, Frazee-Vergas District 11: Tim Riordan, Virginia District 12: Ann Long Voelkner, Bemidji Area District 13: Deb Pauly, Jordan STAFF Bob Meeks: Executive Director Barbara Lynn: Executive Assistant/Director of Board Operations Kirk Schneidawind: Deputy Executive Director John Sylvester: Deputy Executive Director Tiffany Rodning: Deputy Executive Director Greg Abbott: Director of Communications Denise Drill: Director of Financial/MSBAIT Services Amy Fullenkamp-Taylor: Associate Director of Management Services Sandy Gundlach: Director of School Board Services Donn Jenson: Computer and Information Systems Manager Bill Kautt: Associate Director of Management Services Grace Keliher: Director of Governmental Relations Katie Klanderud: Director of Board Development Gary Lee: Associate Director of Management Services Bruce Lombard: Associate Director of Communications Bob Lowe: Director of Management Services Kelly Martell: Director of Technology Cathy Miller: Director of Legal and Policy Services Erica Nelson: MSBA Advertising 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.

Ending the Jan. 15 penalty

Girls basketball team volunteering as elementary school mentors

“In economic times like these, for a school district to have to take money out of the general fund because they don’t have a contract with a bargaining unit is not good. The penalty was imposed on one party. This levels the playing field.”

“It is so important for young learners to have appropriate models in their lives. This high school mentorship creates a relationship between two students who can learn from each other. Over expanded time, we hope that young learners will begin to perceive school as an important part of their lives. Mentors can help instill confidence in young students’ daily lives.”

Gary Amoroso, Executive Director of Minnesota Association of School Administrators

Attack by the pink slime “I feel deceived by the government—we’re counting on them to send us stuff fit for human consumption. To think we’re giving something like this to kids just doesn’t seem morally right.” Sandy Meyer, Buffalo-HanoverMontrose lunch worker

District purchasing iPads for students A magazine is an iPad that doesn’t work. Lisa Snyder, Lakeville Superintendent



Jesse Peterson, Aitkin Elementary Principal

Cyberbullying other kids from home “None of that [cyberbullying] is being generated at the school. It’s all outside in the community, at home, but it filters into the school, where they’re all there together, and we end up dealing with it.” Gail Griffith, Cottage Grove school resource officer

Teaching kids from illegal immigrant homes All too often I hear on the news that “illegal immigrants” are “destroying our country.” I hear that they are “stealing American jobs.” I hear that they sell drugs and cause all sorts of mayhem. What I see is entirely different. I see Brian, a boy who won the Model Student Award for excellence in character and academics. I see his mom holding a camera with tears streaming down her face as he received the award. I see his dad working three thankless jobs. Nobody else I know would choose such work, but he does it with humble dignity, knowing that he is doing a father’s duty and is taking care of the family the best he can. Justin Tiarks, St. Paul City School teacher




I received a reminder in the mail this week about how important it is that public school boards do their job: It’s the 2012 Public Education Primer from the Center on Education Policy ( It is full of some basic (and sometimes surprising) facts about the U.S. educational system.

Bob Meeks MSBA Executive Director

Public schools and the boards who oversee those schools still have the major responsibility to make sure all students learn and are ready for the working world of the future.

Perhaps the biggest fact is that 90 percent of all students (55 million) are educated in public schools. Public schools and the boards who oversee those schools still have the major responsibility to make sure all students learn and are ready for the working world of the future. Despite all the talk of reform, vouchers and private schools, the percentage of students in public schools stands at 90 percent. But here is what HAS changed: • Between kindergarten and eighth grade, only 5 percent of students never changed schools. About 13 percent of students changed schools four or more times through eighth grade. • About 45 percent of the nation’s public school students are children of color, with the fastest-growing segment being Latino children—from 16 percent to 22 percent in just 8 years. • About 45 percent of public school students are eligible for free or reducedprice lunch. • The largest 2 percent of school districts (those with 25,000 or more students) educate 35 percent of all students.

As a nation, we’ve seen families become more and more mobile. Most of the moving results from issues of poverty (moving to areas with less expensive rent), but it can also be linked to economics (moving closer to a job or moving to a different town or state because of a job opportunity). The research is there to tell us that the more times a student is pulled from one school and dropped into another, the lower his or her achievement. This is why, especially in urban areas, it is important to have efforts that keep children in their school despite the family moving across town. Or to set up programs for students new to a school to find out where they are academically, and

to bring them up to speed and make them feel welcome. Our nation is becoming more diverse. Estimates from the Center on Education Policy predict that by 2020, there will almost be more students of color than white students. Our younger students are much more diverse, which means schools have to be ready to teach across cultural and racial lines. And boards need to seriously focus on closing racial achievement gaps in learning. An educated, diverse population is this country’s future. We need to reach out to, include, and have high standards for everyone. Unfortunately, our nation is also becoming less wealthy. As our middle class is squeezed, the percentage of families qualifying for free or reduced meals has grown to nearly half of the total student population. We all know that poverty brings its own myriad of challenges. Poverty is another reason why school boards need to be proactive in keeping strong preschool programs and push to get every child to reading proficiency by third grade. We need to keep funding for healthy food programs in the school so all children are ready to learn— not thinking about how hungry they are. We also need to look at the resources we can provide to our largest school districts. Those districts are educating more than one-third of all students in the country. If those large districts fail, we fail more than one-third of the children in our country. We know it takes much effort, and sometimes more resources and money. But we can’t afford to let down the 18 million children in large urban schools. Yes, some of the challenges for school boards are scary. Some of the facts in the Education Primer seem daunting. But that’s why it is important that ALL school board members be on top of their game. Work WITH the rest of your board to find solutions, not secondguess them. Work WITH your administrative team to find new ways to help children, not sabotage ideas that have not yet been tried. Get INVOLVED with your schools at the local level, your Association and state legislators at the state level, and your Congressional representatives on the federal level. It’s a lot of work. And the reminder I take away from reading the Education Primer is simply this: We know that the future of 55 million students and the future of our country depends on school boards being on top of their game. That’s why we’re here to help you. MAY/JUNE 2012



W Kent Thiesse MSBA President

One best practice for a school board is to set aside all or part of a work session in June to review goals and accomplishments of the previous year, and to begin setting goals for the following year.



When serving on a school board, it’s sometimes all you can do to simply keep up with everything that’s happening in the school district. Whether you are updating policies, developing a budget for the coming year, or trying to understand possible new laws that may result from the state legislative session, there are always many ongoing activities and tasks to be completed. But as with anything, sometimes board members have to take off the running shoes, in order to allow time to sit back and reflect on what has been accomplished during the year, and whether the district has met its goals for the past school year. Understanding district goals is the first step for any school board. Over the summer months, board members should spend some time thinking about what they want to accomplish in the upcoming year. One best practice for a school board is to set aside all or part of a work session in June to review and update goals all based on your strategic plan.

These goals should be adopted by the board, and referred back to often during the school year, as well as measured at the end of the school year. Remember that not every goal may be fully accomplished in the first year; however, your district can make significant progress toward a goal during that year. Goals that are achieved and every positive step in the process should be recognized and celebrated at the end of the school year. Some districts have incorporated the goal-setting and measurement process right into their strategic planning efforts. Too often, very good strategic plans are completed, but the school board does not have a good implementation process for making the plan happen. Regular evaluation of those goals is one step toward implementing a strategic plan.

Many districts compile a list of the student accomplishments during the year, which is many times quite long and very impressive. However, far fewer districts take the time to reflect and list the school board accomplishments at the end of the school year. These reflections can be as formal or as informal as a board wants, but the important part of the process is looking back on the school year and reflecting on what was accomplished, as well as on what areas the school board needs to work on in the coming year. As a school board member, I know there are always many speed bumps that can detour board evaluation efforts. Tasks such as hiring a new superintendent, dealing with budget cuts or an upcoming referendum, or negotiating employee contracts can prevent a school board from taking appropriate time for strategic planning, goal setting, and evaluation. School boards need to deal with the management and problem solving of the school district; however, it is important to focus on the goals and longer-range plans for the district as well. Sometimes, if there has not been a history of strategic planning and goal setting in a school district, it can be difficult to get started. The first step is easy: Set up a work session this summer to make sure the school board sets some goals, updates a strategic plan, or simply brainstorms what should be accomplished in the coming school year. Hopefully, by the end of the next school year, there will be a nice list of accomplishments to discuss with your board, your staff, and your community.

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Going Year-Round Two Minnesota principals reflect on their alternative schedules

Graham McKee


According to the National Association for Year-Round Education (NAYRE), more than 3,000 schools (mostly at the elementary level) nationwide have adopted year-round programs—with 26 in Minnesota.

Sumner Elementary School (Austin) and Crossroads Elementary School (St. Paul) are two Minnesota schools utilizing a year-round schedule.

Bruce Lombard

Principal Celeste Carty has been with Crossroads Elementary since its creation as a year-round school in 1999. Crossroads operates under the same number of school days (173) as the other schools in the St. Paul Public Schools system—along with an additional 23 days of optional intersession.

“Right now we are the only school in the district operating on a year-round calendar,” Carty said. “The other school (Four Seasons A+ Elementary) changed to a traditional calendar this past fall.”

Sumner Elementary, on the other hand, just adopted its year-round program for this current school year on August 1, 2011. Sumner’s 175-day schedule is also equivalent to its fellow schools in the 8


Austin Public Schools system. Sumner’s schedule calls for it to start its school year earlier than the other Austin schools, but it will conclude on the same day as the rest. Sumner Principal Sheila Berger said the school takes the first three weeks off in October as their fall break, then a couple of weeks over the winter holidays and then three weeks in March. Sumner students also enjoy a seven-week summer vacation. As mentioned, Crossroads was conceived as a year-round venture from its inception by the St. Paul School Board. But why did Sumner make the switch from a traditional schedule? “Our population of students that we serve here has a high free and reduced lunch percentage,” said Sumner Principal Sheila Berger. “As we looked at different ways to help students increase their academic achievement, the yearround schedule seemed to be something specific for a plan that would address those needs, as well as some of the other things, like a higher percentage of English language learners here. I think the schedule complemented a couple areas of need that we had, and it cost us no money to implement.”

Year-round reactions Berger said the schedule has yielded a much happier staff. “When you work in a building like ours, it is very exhausting,” Berger said. “Not that teaching isn’t exhausting anyway, but we’ve kind of become the stability in the students’ lives. It’s nice for our staff to be able to refresh and regenerate and come back after a three-week break ready to go for another nine weeks. The kids seem to be doing well (with the schedule), too.” Sumner also offers two-week intersessions during the fall and spring breaks. Berger said the intersession classes are a big advantage for everyone. “The students are coming to our schools with our staff,” she said. “We know the kids, we know their deficits and know how they operate and learn best. We feel that pays off for them, versus having them go to a school across town in the summer and meet up with a new staff member that they’ve never see before. We feel like we are able to address some of their remedial needs while they are still in school. We feel like that’s another positive from the schedule as well.” Carty said that while intersession is optional at Crossroads, they “strongly encourage anyone below grade level to attend at least two out of the three intersessions.” She said the only minor problem with intersession is scheduling the teachers to teach the classes. Currently, Crossroads teachers are not contracted to teach intersession. Crossroads uses retired teachers or guest teachers to fill the gap. Carty also said a vast majority of her students and teachers are doing well in general with this schedule. Both Berger and Carty agree continuity is one of the biggest plusses of the schedule.

Jay Robie

“We know that when our kids leave us in June, we’ll be back with them July 31,” Berger said. “We almost get to work with them year-round because of the intersessions in the fall and the spring. We feel like we’ve made more of a relationship with them and are able to make a much greater gain with them than we were able to before.” Carty seconded those sentiments, noting that not having students away on break longer than four or five weeks has been a big plus. Berger said after some initial concern, the vast majority of her families have been positive about the new schedule. “Some of the toughest things for families to deal with were (scheduling issues) if they had older kids—middle school or high school students—on the traditional calendar,” she said. Day care was an initial concern, but Berger said families have appeared to work around that issue as well. Sumner helped in that area by offering after-school activities.

Improved student performance? Berger said students generally showed improvement based on mid-year evaluations held in December 2011. “On our kids’ initial assessments, they scored much higher in the fall than they have in previous years,” she said. “The growth has been very similar to what we have seen in other years.” MAY/JUNE 2012


“The teachers felt like they could get into the heart of the curriculum much more quickly in the beginning of the year,” Berger said. “Which is what the research said, but it was nice to see for ourselves. This was especially true in math. We didn’t have to spend a month going back through our curriculum.”

Going Year-Round

Berger said she couldn’t make a clean call on her school’s achievement compared to the others in the district, due to the fact that Sumner has a much different student group. Carty said student achievement has fluctuated for Crossroads. “This is the first year Crossroads Science did not make AYP since 1999,” she said. “But we are working toward improving our scores.” The lack of time to prepare for the MCAs is the biggest downside. Carty said her school is at a disadvantage by having five weeks less (than their traditional schedule counterparts) time to prepare for the MCA tests. “We’re trying to cram in a lot more information before the students take the tests,” she said. Carty said that when her students take the math test in the summer, they are equal to or usually above the rest of the district’s schools. “For MCAs, it’s always a quandary: Have we been able to even cover everything because of the November and February breaks?” she observed.

A mixed bag of analysis A number of studies have been done over the years on year-round education, and most have been inconclusive on student achievement gains and other matters. In 1999, Elisabeth Palmer and Amy Bemis (of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement) compiled a report on year-round schools, culling their data from other studies from the previous 30 years. Palmer and Bemis noted that they had difficulty drawing conclusions on student achievement and other outcomes due to poor research designs or incomplete data. However, from what they could gather from 75 analyses they reviewed, 42 studies showed no significant effect on student achievement for year-round students—while 27 studies demonstrated significant positive effects. In their summary, Palmer and Bemis concluded “that students attending year-round schools are likely to perform as well as, if not better than, their peers in traditional nine-month programs, especially at the upper elementary school level.”



Palmer and Bemis’ study also revealed: • Mixed results in student attendance rates • A slight decrease in teacher absenteeism • Mixed findings on student attitudes • An improvement in teacher attitudes the longer they were exposed to the schedule • More difficulty for teachers to schedule professional development events • No significant differences in administrative burnout • Mixed results in the impact on families (i.e., scheduling vacations, day care, etc.) A 2007 study authored by Paul von Hippel (an Ohio State University research statistician and sociologist) found “over a full year, math and reading test scores improved about the same amount for children in year-round schools as they did for students whose schools followed a traditional nine-month calendar.” Von Hippel’s study used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, a national survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. Von Hippel examined reading and math test scores of children in 748 public schools and 244 private schools from around the country. However, it’s worth noting that the results sampled students from only kindergarten and first grade. “On purely academic grounds, I wouldn’t advocate a year-round calendar, but I can’t recommend against it, either,” von Hippel said. “On the other hand, if a school is considering a year-round calendar in hopes of boosting academic achievement, it seems unlikely that those hopes will be realized.” An article from the April 2010 edition of Education Leadership magazine (produced by ASCD—formerly called the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) also seconded the lack of conclusiveness regarding the impact on student achievement. “Research indicates that summer learning loss is a real problem for students—especially for economically disadvantaged students. One study . . . found that low-income students made similar achievement gains to other students during the school year; the widening of the achievement gap between the two groups occurred over the summer. Another study found that summer learning loss is more pronounced for math facts, spelling, and other academic material that is concrete rather than conceptual. Berger emphasized the problem of the information all students lose during a three-month summer break. “For English language learners, this is very critical; as typically, students don’t have much exposure to anyone at home who speaks English, so their learning loss is even greater,” she said.

Whitney Magnuson

Education Leadership went on to report: “Unfortunately, research is inconclusive on whether year-round schooling is an effective solution to this problem. Two major metaanalyses of studies on year-round schooling have shown that the findings are mixed and that many studies suffer from weak research designs or methodology—for example, failing to account for family socioeconomic level or parental education. However, both of these meta-analyses . . . did find support for the following conclusions:

“There’s a misunderstanding that the traditional calendar is based heavily on research—and there’s absolutely none to support it educationally,” Berger said. “Our year-round calendar has research to support it and I would encourage people to take a look at it . . . given how life is changing for our kids—they’re not working at home on the farm. . . . Right now, I think our school board members are waiting to see how things will look for us after a year or two. I think they are going to see how it pans out for us first.”

• Students in year-round schools do as well or slightly better in terms of academic achievement than students in traditional schools.

Carty concurred. “I know a number of my colleagues believe in a year-round calendar and have said they wish the entire district could change to a year-round,” she said.

• Year-round education may be particularly beneficial for students from low-income families.

Bruce Lombard is the Associate Director of Communications at the Minnesota School Boards Association. You can contact him at

• Students, parents, and teachers who participate in a yearround school tend to have positive attitudes about the experience. “The research also indicates that when year-round schooling has resulted in higher academic achievement, the schools in question are usually doing more than just rearranging the school calendar. These schools are also providing remediation and enrichment for students during the breaks so that students have opportunities to relearn material, practice skills, catch up, or experience nonacademic enrichment activities continuously throughout the year.” Regardless of what the data says—or doesn’t say—both Berger and Carty said they are pleased with their respective schools’ schedules and the outcomes produced. Berger said more schools should move away from the traditional agrarian-based calendar and go in this direction.

Further Reading 449.htm apr10/vol67/num07/Year-Round_Schooling.aspx MAY/JUNE 2012


Minnesota’s NCLB Waiver Prevents

“Slow-motion Train Wreck”

Piper Cashman


When Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called No Child Left Behind (NCLB) a “slow-motion train wreck” last summer, he was referring to the increasing number of schools mislabeled as failing. Pushing the train further off the tracks was the impending 2014 goal for 100 percent of students to show proficiency on standardized tests and the requirement that schools direct funding toward initiatives that have yielded little success to move student achievement.

If NCLB was a train wreck, Minnesota’s schools were among its passengers. Despite having some Sam Kramer of the highest ACT and NAEP scores in the country, in 2011, more Minnesota schools failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)—the accountability measurement tied to that 2014 goal— than made AYP. Meanwhile, more Minnesota districts were labeled failing than in any other state in the Midwest. The inevitable result had been demoralized educators, poorly allocated resources and widespread confusion about school accountability. 12


Fortunately, Secretary Duncan responded to this crisis by allowing states to apply for a waiver to some of the most problematic provisions of NCLB. When the opportunity was announced in September, Governor Mark Dayton instructed the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to apply. This started an important conversation with stakeholders about how best to hold our schools accountable for performance and provide supports for those most in need of improvement. The result of those conversations was a waiver proposal, approved in February, built around the goals of closing achievement gaps and promoting high growth for all students. With that approval in hand, we now have a new accountability system that will measure schools in a fairer, more robust way, while providing new flexibility to districts in the way they use their federal funds and plan for school improvement. At the core of the new system is a better measurement for school accountability: the Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR). The MMR avoids the weakness of AYP, which looked at school performance only through the proficiency lens. By contrast, the MMR looks not only at proficiency, but also at student growth, achievement gap reduction and graduation rate. Under the waiver proposal, every school will get an MMR that shows how they compare to other schools around the state on these four important measurements, as well as on an overall basis. Rather than looking at school performance as black and white, the MMR captures the important shades of gray that will provide parents, community members, and school boards with more data on the performance of schools. While state statute still requires us to calculate and report AYP each year, it is the MMR that will drive school improvement decisions.

monitoring from MDE. Finally, the 10 percent of Title I schools making the greatest contribution to the state’s achievement gap will be identified as Focus Schools, and will be required to work with their districts to develop a plan for closing the achievement gap. Both Priority and Focus Schools will be identified for a period of three years while they work to turn things around. Greater local control for school improvement is at the heart of our new accountability system. The one-size-fits-all interventions of NCLB proved unsuccessful in many schools; we believe better results will come by allowing local conditions to dictate the improvement planning process. To aid in this effort, MDE will release more data on school performance than ever before. And when schools are identified as Priority or Focus Schools, districts, schools and communities will play a larger role in determining their path forward. This is not a pass on accountability, but rather a new system of creating more meaningful accountability for schools and districts. Developed to be fairer, more transparent, and more responsive to the local needs of every school and district, it is a tremendous opportunity for us to start fresh with new goals and new ideas. MDE looks forward to continuing our work with all stakeholders across the state to make sure that we use this opportunity well. Sam Kramer is the Federal Education Policy Specialist for the Minnesota Department of Education.

Equally important, the new system will provide more targeted, strategic, and locally tailored support for school improvement activities. We know that while most of our schools are performing very well, there are some in need of change in the way they operate. To accomplish these changes, the current AYP stages and mandated financial setasides are replaced with a tiered system of recognition, accountability and support that better responds to the unique needs of schools and districts. Using the MMR, we will now identify three main groups of schools from the group of schools in the state that receive federal Title I funding. At the top end of this list will be our Reward Schools, the top 15 percent of Title I schools according to the MMR. Singled out for public recognition, these schools will also provide us the opportunity to learn from their best practices. At the other end of the spectrum will be the lowest-performing 5 percent of Title I schools designated as Priority Schools. These schools will be required to undergo a turnaround effort to change the way the school operates, with the goal of improving student performance; all with technical assistance, support and

Anna Steege



Cabinet to Cloud: Click Here to See My Learning

Jen Green, Stacy Warneke, Justin Jourdan, and Jen Hegna


If your school is anything like ours, every year, we would regularly head to a dark, cluttered closet filled with poorly organized and overcrowded file cabinets to collect and file student writing portfolios. At some point, the files would ceremoniously be given to seniors . . . who unceremoniously dropped them in the trash on their way out of the room. The only people who really invested any meaningful time with those paper portfolios were the teachers; other than a trip down memory lane, students saw and felt little value or use for them. Real use of these files for reflection and growth measurement was usually impossible and impractical. Enter the digital age, and the portfolio is reemerging as a valuable and practical tool—not just for writing and English, but for ALL student learning. With the creation, organization, and management of portfolios put into students’ hands, they are empowered and engaged to create, reflect, and share their work on a whole new level. As a student shared with us, the ePortfolio makes his work “look honored and important, instead of just turning it in for a simple grade.”

Our Journey Began... When Byron High School’s English department began discussing how best to prepare our students for their future, our discussion centered on the idea of electronic portfolios; however, the teachers had experienced the “old” system of cumbersome paper files and were not interested in returning to it. We all agreed on the value and potential in the idea, Alex Jenkins



but it was the old reality that stopped us cold. Since becoming a Google Apps school in 2009–2010, our use and integration of Google’s suite of tools has grown exponentially. This culture of embracing technology and change opened the door for the portfolios to move from the cabinet to the cloud in the form of ePortfolios in Google sites. A brief pilot and overwhelming positive student feedback, combined with our belief in the project, encouraged us to proceed with a larger scale implementation. After the entire department took an online summer course1 in the pedagogy, the instruction, and the theory of ePortfolios, we wrote a mission statement to guide our process: “By implementing ePortfolios, BHS will empower students to become active participants in their own personalized education. Through the use of reflection, technology, and collaboration, students will develop skills that will lead them to achieve and showcase progress toward their lifelong goals.” Prior to the start of the 2011 school year, the department laid out the required ePortfolio elements for each grade level and developed a common rubric for assessing students’ work.

Our Plan... The implementation of the ePortfolios consists of two parts: a storage portfolio (grades nine to eleven) and a showcase portfolio (grade twelve). In grade nine, students will primarily include writing samples and reflections. For tenthand eleventh-graders, non-writing projects, such as videos, are required to demonstrate learning. Students in grades ten and eleven are also required to use papers or projects from other classes in order to demonstrate their strengths and personalize the ePortfolio. Additionally, all levels are required to include one artifact from a non-English course and one artifact from outside school; these two elements allow students to truly showcase themselves through their strengths and talents. Every year, students will update their biography and goals in order to show reflection and growth. After completing her eleventh-grade ePortfolio, a student commented, “I liked how we could personalize it [the ePortfolio] and that it was our OWN place.” Seniors create a new “Showcase” ePortfolio to house their required elements. This ePortfolio is much more professional, personalized, and unique to each student. By creating a new portfolio, students must judiciously choose what to include from their nine-to-eleven storage portfolio. Seniors add required artifacts from English courses, nonEnglish courses, and outside of school, in addition to a resumé and cover letter. If students have created other

Artifact from a non-English course shared through an English portfolio

ePortfolios they are proud of, they can link that entire portfolio to their showcase portfolio. As seniors leave, they can transfer ownership of their site and keep it for future use in college and the work force. By far, the most meaningful piece of the ePortfolios is the student reflection. So often, students are not required or encouraged to truly note their strengths or weaknesses on any given assignment. As part of the common assessment, the department developed and agreed on four reflection questions for each artifact: • What did I learn? • What did I do well and what was I proud of? • What did I struggle with? • What would I do differently if I could do it again? The ePortfolio gives students an opportunity to make thoughtful comments about their work and progress; they can see the growth that takes place over the course of their high school experience. In the words of one student, “It shows me how much I’ve grown as a student.”

To Infinity and Beyond... ePortfolios have proven to be so much more than just a writing tool. Given the culture of innovation and transformation at Byron Public Schools, other departments and grade levels see the power and potential and have implemented their own versions of ePortfolios. Students in Geometry and Statistics, for example, are creating ePortfolios to demonstrate understanding of mathematical concepts. The elementary and middle school teachers are creating ePortfolios with their students as well—fourthgrade students document their musical growth in ePortfolios during the year, and seventh-grade students are developing English ePortfolios. Access to students’ previous work gives their future teachers an instant snapshot of each child’s strengths, abilities, and personality; teachers no longer have to wait to “get to know” their students. As part of the continuous improvement model, Byron High School is working toward creating common assessments in



Click Here to See My Learning

Cabinet to Cloud:

all departments, which are directly linked to the Minnesota state standards; thus, the use of ePortfolios provides proof of learning. We also recognize that ePortfolios are an assessment of technology literacy and 21st-century skills2 as outlined in the National Education Technology Plan.3 These skills include collaboration, creativity and innovation, communication, and critical thinking—necessary skills for student success in future academic and professional careers and the competitive global society they will soon enter. If our task as educators is to educate the whole Example of math in the real world from Chelsie D’s Geometry ePortfolio. Applying conditional statement logic to advertising. child, the use of ePortfolios both as an assessment tool and a celebration of students’ talents and passions makes perfect sense. We 1 would be remiss as educators if we fail to embrace the Creating Student ePortfolios with Google Sites (free Moodle course for schools) new technologies that will allow our students to demonstrate learning on their terms. In the same way 2 we moved from cabinet to cloud, educators are National Technology Standards ISTE Standards moving from assessments based on memorization and recall to creating real-world artifacts as proof of The Partnership for 21st Century Skills learning. Using this model, teachers can begin to think about instruction and student learning in a 3 National Education Technology Plan whole new way, and the possibilities become infinite indeed. Jen Green is the Byron High School Mathematics & Language Arts Instructor,; Stacy Warneke is the Byron High School Language Arts Instructor,; Justin Jourdan is the Byron High School Language Arts Instructor,; and Jen Hegna is the Byron Public Schools Director of Information and Learning Technology,

Alex Jenkins

Artifact from a non-English course shared through an English portfolio



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Taylor Werdel

MSHSL officials offer advice on how to handle supporters 18



The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) has only one specific policy in regard to booster clubs. Still, the MSHSL has experienced a variety of situations with booster clubs and their relations to member schools.

The main policy in place is that booster clubs cannot provide funding to student athletes for their Bruce Lombard participation in camps or clinics outside of the regular season. The first bit of advice to school board members? Establish your own policies and procedures.

“School boards need to have policies about how booster clubs will be treated and how school boards will allow booster clubs to function with school activities, because you’re the ones hosting those programs,” said MSHSL Executive Director Dave Stead. “What do the statutes say you have to do? What does Title IX say you have to do about booster clubs and how they relate to your programs?” Adhering to Title IX laws is essential when establishing your own rules. Passed by the U.S. Congress in 1972, Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities by recipients of federal financial assistance —which include schools, colleges and universities. “Generally, Title IX requires school boards to treat programs equally,” Stead said. “If your school funds a boys basketball team and the school provides a nice chartered bus for them to travel to (away) games, then the same thing must be done for the girls. Treat your programs equitably. That’s what Title IX requires. It’s the right thing to do as well.” Stead said that oftentimes, school board members or athletic directors will encounter representatives from sport-specific booster clubs (e.g., the football booster club, the boys hockey booster club, the girls swimming booster club) donating money with the intent of only their program getting those funds. “There are ways for school boards to accept specific dollars and expend them as the giver intended,” Stead said. “But there are some limitations on what can be done as well.” The MSHSL has a manual on Gender Equity in Athletics on its website at entitled “Providing Equal Athletic Opportunities—A Guide to Compliance” (located under the “Popular Links” section). Accepting booster club donations doesn’t mean there have to be strings attached. Stead said it is the district’s discretion as to the manner they expend donated funds.

Stead gave an example: Person X wants to be an assistant football coach at the high school. Booster Club Member Y says she will pay Person X to be the assistant coach. After the school board does the background check on Person X, Booster Club Member Y pays Person X. “That is a violation,” Stead said. “According to Minnesota state statutes, the funds for the programs under the jurisdiction of school boards would have to be given to the district. The booster club can donate the money to the district—then the district pays Person X as a volunteer. But the district must then deduct all the applicable taxes. There are specific state statutes that govern what schools must do.” Stead said that IRS has been looking into booster club expenditures much more closely nationwide. “School boards can use booster club funds, but the school board has to manage those dollars,” Stead said. “Board policies need to be in place in order to receive and expend the dollars for your programs.” MSHSL has provided this information to all the schools’ athletic directors, and a new “Gender Equity In Athletics” guide will be distributed during the Area Meetings conducted by the League this fall. This manual is being written by Sara Winter (Division of Compliance and Assistance at the Minnesota Department of Education) and published by the MSHSL. Kevin Merkle, the MSHSL Associate Director and a former school athletic director, seconded Stead’s assessment. “One of the places where booster clubs can get into trouble is with finances,” Merkle said. “As a school district you cannot control their finances, because booster clubs are a separate entity.” Sharing state laws and guidelines with booster clubs can be helpful in assisting them with proper financial procedures. Merkle said, for accounting and other reasons, it is best for “booster clubs to gift money to the districts and allow the district to make the expenditures. Most districts have policies in place in regard to how gifts are received and about how gifts can be designated for a specific use.” Merkle said it is good public relations for the district when this is done, as it allows them to properly recognize the donors. Also, publicizing donations can lead to more donations in the future —for athletics, as well as for fine arts activities and academics. This also sends a message that the community supports its local schools.




School districts can then control the expenditure of donated funds. Schools can usually make purchases at reduced rates on items such as uniforms, equipment and scoreboards. Districts also are not subject to state sales taxes. More importantly, the district has the freedom to purchase the quality, style, color, etc., within the guidelines established by the gift agreement. This will avoid problems such as a parent buying black uniforms when your colors are green and gold, or buying other items that may not meet necessary safety standards or rule requirements. Once purchased, the district owns the item. That means the district will be responsible for installation, repair and possibly replacement; but it also means that if the donor’s child is injured or cut from the team, you don’t have to give the item back. Getting a handle on booster clubs Merkle said that while booster clubs like to support programs and provide money, there are two other areas that can more easily lead to difficulty: having direct influence or control on a particular program, or being involved with hiring or firing coaches. “Sometimes they want to do the job of the athletic director or principal,” he said. Merkle learned many dos and don’ts from his predecessor at another district. “When we started a booster club, we started things the right way with the right people for the right reasons,” he said. “We established an umbrella booster club that supported all of our sports and activities.”

board, and attend all the booster club meetings. While not a voting member, the AD can provide guidance. He or she can help make sure that funds are shared equitably between programs, and that the gender equity guidelines are followed. If a boys team gets funding for new uniforms or equipment, you don’t have to run out and get the same for the girls immediately, but over the course of time you can make sure that funds are distributed equitably. “We worked together to pick the right people to be on the booster club board of directors, those who were able to focus more on the big picture and did not have individual agendas,” he said. “We had a rule that we would not talk about coaches or problems within a specific program.” The few times something of that nature would come up in a meeting, Merkle would say: “No, we’re not going there during this meeting—but we can set an appointment to talk about those issues individually. We can deal with the issues, but not at the booster club meeting.” Are booster clubs positive or negative? They can be either, but with the proper structure and the right people, they can provide many benefits to a school and community and provide a great way to build community support for the entire school program. Bruce Lombard is the Associate Director of Communications for the Minnesota School Boards Association. You can contact him at Special thanks to MSHSL’s Dave Stead and Kevin Merkle for their contribution to this article, most of which was presented at an MSBA Leadership Conference workshop.

Merkle said that under an umbrella booster club system, you can support and fund all programs. Fundraising activities can be more focused, as area businesses are solicited one time instead of having requests from multiple booster clubs during the course of a year. Merkle also shared how an umbrella booster club can earn funding through the sale of program ads and concessions. A form of grant program can be conducted to allow coaches to request funds for needs they have. Merkle also recommends that the athletic/activities director be an ex-officio member of the booster club 20


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Zach Ofness

Making a Change: Selecting a Self-Funded Healthcare Plan Matt Mons and Julie Cink




Last summer, Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools made the switch to its own self-funded healthcare plan after having been part of a different insurance plan for more than 10 years. It was a change we made after reviewing all the options, meeting with our employee groups, and taking our recommendation to the school board. The decision to move to a self-insured health plan has provided transparency, saved money and allowed for the creation of a reserve that will provide greater stability in the face of the ever-increasing cost of health insurance.

In spring 2011, we decided to go out for bid on our medical insurance plan in order to ensure that we were offering our health benefits in the most affordable manner possible for the district and our employees. While we were waiting for our annual rate adjustments from the former plan, we obtained bids for fully insured healthcare models from Medica and PreferredOne, and also for a self-insured healthcare model from PreferredOne. The best bid for a fully insured model came from the cooperative and guaranteed us a 5 percent rate increase through a two-year period, which would cost the district approximately $350,000. After analyzing our claims history and the premiums we were paying out to the cooperative, we were able to predict that if our current trends continued we would be significantly overpaying under our current model, and by switching would be able to save the district from the 5 percent premium rate increase. In addition to being able to avoid the 5 percent rate increase, we were also able to find significant savings in the administrative costs associated with offering our benefits through a self-insured model. The district was able to cut $800,000 in administrative costs by changing plans. These savings will be used to create a reserve which will allow the district and our employees to insulate ourselves from dramatic swings in the cost of providing health benefits. After we had analyzed the bids, the self-insured option was clearly worth exploring. In order to better understand what a self-insured model would mean for our district, we first had a discussion with PreferredOne, which had provided the bid and would be the administrator, to get a better understanding of the plan. We also sought counsel from Al Hofstede from Corporate Health Systems, who helped us review the numbers and gain a comfort level with changing to a self-insured plan. It is a lot of work to make a change in a healthcare plan, so a school district needs to have a compelling reason to make this change. After running the numbers and realizing the kind of savings and long-term stability the change could offer, we made the decision that it was in the district’s best interest to change plans. We knew we had a significant opportunity, but that making a change would come with challenges. The two biggest challenges are timing and employee buy-in.

Ozzie Secundino

From the day we decided to recommend the change to a self-insured model, it took one month to educate our board and employees and formally adopt the plan, and it took an additional month to implement the plan. It is a common misperception that changing plans is a process that must take many months or even years, but we found that the process can work on an abbreviated timeline as well.



Making a Change: Selecting a Self-Funded Healthcare Plan

Employee buy-in is crucial to the success of making the change to a self-insured model. We found that district and employee interests aligned in a desire to keep premiums low and avoid costly rate increases. The greatest concerns for our employees were the ability to retain the same benefits they had previously received, and continue to see the doctors with whom they had formed relationships and utilize the same prescriptions. Under the self-insured model, we were able to alleviate their concerns by duplicating our plan design exactly. Once these concerns were laid to rest, our employees were able to recognize the value to both the district and themselves in changing plans. Nearly a year into the change, our employees are more knowledgeable about our health plan due to the transparency that comes with a change to selfinsurance, and we have recognized the benefits we anticipated, which include these:

Camren Notermann



• Lowering of administrative costs by $800,000 annually, which will be ongoing and has helped us to build a reserve • Cost avoidance of $350,000 by not needing to increase premiums by 5 percent as dictated by our fully insured bids • Retention of the difference between our actual claims and premiums paid, which will also help to build our reserve This change has taken a significant amount of time and energy to make, but we are confident it was the right decision. Matt Mons is Director of Human Resources and Julie Cink is Director of Business Affairs for the Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools. The district has 7,200 students at 12 sites and has 1,000 full-time and part-time employees.

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Director, Market Development

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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 Web site at Most listings in the Web version of this directory include a link so you can head instantly to a Web site or e-mail address. The directory includes everything you need to know to contact a company quickly—phone numbers, fax numbers and addresses—in an easy-to-read format. If you have a service or product you would like included in this directory, please contact Sue Munsterman at 507-934-2450 or Actuary Hildi Incorporated (Jill Urdahl) 11800 Singletree Lane, Suite 305 Minneapolis, MN 55344 952-934--5554, Fax 952-934-3027 Appraisal/Capital Assets Hirons & Associates, Inc. (Mark T. Hessel) 225 E. Fairmount Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53217 414-906-1921, Fax 414-906-1932 Architects/Engineers/Facility Planners Architects Rego + Youngquist inc. (Paul Youngquist) 7601 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 200 St. Louis Park, MN 55426 952-544-8941, Fax 952-544-0585 ATS&R Planners/Architects/Engineers (Paul W. Erickson) 8501 Golden Valley Rd., Suite 300 Minneapolis, MN 55427 763-545-3731 Fax 763-525-3289 Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A. (Judith Hoskens) 201 Main Street SE, Suite 325 Minneapolis, MN 55414 612-817-8839, Fax 612-379-4400 DLR Group (Jennifer Anderson-Tuttle) 520 Nicollet Mall, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-977-3500, Fax 612-977-3600 GLTArchitects (Evan Larson) 808 Courthouse Square St. Cloud, MN 56303 320-252-3740, Fax 320-255-0683



Hallberg Engineering, Inc. (Rick Lucio) 1750 Commerce Court White Bear Lake, MN 55110 651-748-4386, Fax 651-748-9370 ICS Consulting, Inc. (Pat Overom) 5354 Edgewood Drive Mounds View, MN 55112 763-354-2670, Fax 763-780-2866 INSPEC, INC. (Fred King) 5801 Duluth St. Minneapolis, MN 55422 763-546-3434, Fax 763-546-8669 Kodet Architectural Group, Ltd. (Edward J. Kodet, Jr.) 15 Groveland Terrace Minneapolis, MN 55403 612-377-2737, Fax 612-377-1331 MSBA Playground Compliance Program (in partnership with National Playground Compliance Group, LLC) (Tim Mahoney) PO Box 506 Carlisle, IA 50047 866-345-6774, Fax 515-989-0344 Paulsen Architects (Bryan Paulsen) 209 S. Second Street, Suite 201 Mankato, MN 56001 507-388-9811, Fax 507-388-1751 Perkins + Will (Steve Miller) 84 10th Street S., Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55403 612-851-5094, Fax 612-851-5001 TSP, Inc. (Rick Wessling) 18707 Old Excelsior Blvd. Minneapolis, MN 55345 952-474-3291, Fax 952-474-3928

Widseth Smith Nolting (Kevin Donnay) 7804 Industrial Park Road Baxter, MN 56425 218-829-5117, Fax 218-829-2517 Wold Architects and Engineers (Scott McQueen) 305 St. Peter Street St. Paul, MN 55102 651-227-7773, Fax 651-223-5646 Athletic Sports Floors/Surfacing Fisher Tracks, Inc. (Jordan Fisher) 1192 235th Street Boone, IA 50036 515-432-3191, Fax 515-432-3193 MSBA Playground Compliance Program (in partnership with National Playground Compliance Group, LLC) (Tim Mahoney) PO Box 506 Carlisle, IA 50047 866-345-6774, Fax 515-989-0344 Attorneys Kennedy & Graven Chartered (Neil Simmons) 200 South Sixth Street, Suite 470 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-337-9300, Fax 612-337-9310 Knutson, Flynn & Deans, P.A. (Thomas S. Deans) 1155 Centre Pointe Dr., Suite 10 Mendota Heights, MN 55120 651-222-2811, Fax 651-225-0600 Pemberton, Sorlie, Rufer & Kershner, PLLP (Mike Rengel) 110 N. Mill Fergus Falls, MN 56537 218-736-5493, Fax 218-736-3950

Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A. (Jay T. Squires) 730 2nd Ave. S., Suite 300 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-339-0060, Fax 612-339-0038 Construction Mgmt & Consulting Bossardt Corporation (Greg Franzen) 8300 Norman Center Drive, Suite 770 Minneapolis, MN 55437 952-831-5408 or 800-290-0119 Fax 952-831-1268 ICS Consulting, Inc. (Pat Overom) 5354 Edgewood Drive Mounds View, MN 55112 763-354-2670, Fax 763-780-2866 Kraus-Anderson Construction Co. (John Huenink) 8625 Rendova Street NE Circle Pines, MN 55014 763-792-3616, Fax 763-786-2650 Metz Construction Management, 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 (Linda Mitchell) 615 Olof Hanson Dr. Faribault, MN 55021 800-657-3996/507-384-6602 Fax 507-332-5528

Renaissance Learning 2911 Peach Street Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494 800-338-4204 Energy Solutions Johnson Controls, Inc. (Brent Jones) 2605 Fernbrook Lane N., Suite T Plymouth, MN 55447 763-585-5039, Fax 763-566-2208 Facilities Maintenance & Supplies Marsden Bldg Maintenance, LLC (Diane Lewis) 1717 University Ave. W. St. Paul, MN 55104 Financial Management MSBA-Sponsored Administration and Compliance Service (A&C Service) Administration and Compliance Service (Paige McNeal, Educators Benefit Consultants, LLC) 888-507-6053/763-552-6053 Fax 763-552-6055 MSBA-Sponsored MNTAAB (MN Tax and Aid Anticipation Borrowing Program) MNTAAB (DeeDee Kahring, Springsted, Inc.) 800-236-3033/651-223-3099 Fax 651-223-3002 MSBA-Sponsored P-Card (Procurement Card) Program P-Card Program 800-891-7910/314-878-5000 Fax 314-878-5333 MSBA-Sponsored (Jim Sheehan, Ann Thomas) Sheehan: 952-435-0990 Thomas: 952-435-0955 PaySchools (Patrick Ricci) 6000 Grand Ave. Des Moines, IA 50312 281-545-1957, Fax: 515-243-4992

PFM Asset Management, LLC MSDLAF+ (Donn Hanson) 45 South 7th Street, Suite 2800 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-371-3720, Fax 612-338-7264 Floor Coverings Hiller Commercial Floors (Dave Bahr) 2909 S. Broadway Rochester, MN 55904 507-254-6858, Fax 507-288-8877 Food Service Products & Services Lunchtime Solutions, Inc. (Deni Ferlick) 717 N. Derby Lane North Sioux City, SD 57049 712-251-0427, Fax 605-235-0942 Insurance Minnesota School Boards Association Insurance Trust (MSBAIT) (Denise Drill, Gary Lee, John Sylvester, Amy Fullenkamp-Taylor) 1900 West Jefferson Avenue St. Peter, MN 56082-3015 800-324-4459, Fax 507-931-1515 Janitorial Contract Services Marsden Bldg Maintenance, LLC (Diane Lewis) 1717 University Ave. W. St. Paul, MN 55104 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 School Supplies/Furniture CTB (Kevin Stachowski) 26327 Fallbrook Ave. Wyoming, MN 55092 651-462-3550, Fax 651-462-8806 Software Systems PaySchools (Patrick Ricci) 6000 Grand Ave. Des Moines, IA 50312 281-545-1957, Fax 515-243-4992

Minnesota School Bus Operators Association (Shelly Jonas) 10606 Hemlock Street NW Annandale, MN 55302 320-274-8313, Fax 320-274-8027 North Central Bus & Equipment (Sandy Kiehm) 2629 Clearwater Road South St. Cloud, MN 56301 320-257-1209, Fax 320-252-3561 Telin Transportation Group (Jamie Romfo) 14990 Industry Avenue Becker, MN 55308 866-287-7278, 763-262-3328 Fax 763-262-3332

Sustainability Consulting Paulsen Architects (Bryan Paulsen) 209 S. Second Street, Suite 201 Mankato, MN 56001 507-388-9811, Fax 507-388-1751 Technology PaySchools (Patrick Ricci) 6000 Grand Ave. Des Moines, IA 50312 281-545-1957, Fax 515-243-4992 Transportation American Bus Sales, LLC (Jason Lustig) 12802 N. 103rd East Avenue Collinsville, OK 74021 866-574-9970, Fax 918-274-9970 Hoglund Bus Co., Inc. (Jason Anderson) 116 East Oakwood Drive PO Box 249 Monticello, MN 55362 763-295-5119, Fax 763-295-4992



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HOW BOARDS CAN HELP A NEW SUPERINTENDENT At some point in time in their tenures, most board members must search for and hire a new superintendent. Once a hiring decision has been made, board members typically will breathe a sigh of relief because they have their new superintendent under contract for the coming year(s); however, they quickly realize that their work must now shift to developing and maintaining a good working relationship with their superintendent for the betterment of the students and the district. This article addresses three questions school boards face in the superintendent post-hiring time period.

A By Sandy Gundlach, MSBA Director of School Board Services

This article addresses three questions school boards face in the superintendent post-hiring time period.

Question: Who should develop the superintendent’s job performance expectations? Ideally, the board and superintendent work together to establish the expectations and priorities for the superintendent’s performance for the coming year(s). Setting expectations is important because they form the basis for the superintendent’s performance evaluation. Hopefully, these expectations and priorities will be aligned with the district’s goals and priorities and are designed to move the district forward. The parties should agree on what the evaluation priorities are, what tool(s) will be used, when updates will be provided, and when the final, summative evaluation meeting will take place. See Chapter 3 of the MSBA Service Manual for sample superintendent evaluation forms. The board should also spend time thinking about its performance and ways in which it can be improved. Many boards participate in an annual board self-evaluation to help them identify their strengths and weaknesses, and areas in which improvements could be made. Ultimately, both the board and superintendent benefit from an annual performance review, and that is good for the district. Contact Katie Klanderud, MSBA’s Director of Board Development, for more information.

Question: How soon after the new superintendent’s first day of work should the board and superintendent get together to set those expectations? The meeting at which the expectations for the superintendent’s performance are set should be held as soon as possible after the new superintendent’s first day of work so that everyone is “reading off the same page.” Many school boards schedule a special meeting for this purpose, while some address the issue during a regular meeting. The conversation about the board’s expectations for the superintendent’s performance must occur in an open meeting, because no exception exists in state statute that allows a board to close a meeting for this purpose. Question: What are important factors to consider when developing a good boardsuperintendent working relationship? Wise school board members and superintendents know and understand the value of having a good working relationship. Board members and superintendents know that having consistent, open lines of communication are keys to success. They also know how important it is to talk about and reach a consensus on topics such as handling complaints from the public; preparing the board meeting agenda; handling comments at board meetings; and the process to be used when developing the budget and deciding on personnel issues. MSBA offers several different opportunities designed to help boards and superintendents develop strong board-superintendent relationships. In-district workshops are an option for boards and superintendents who want to focus on specific topics such as developing mutual expectations or clarifying roles and responsibilities. The in-district workshops are customized to meet a specific district’s needs. Contact MSBA’s Board Development Team for more information about in-district workshops and trainings.





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MSBA Journal: May-June 2012  

The May-June 2012 Journal Magazine from the Minnesota School Boards Association

MSBA Journal: May-June 2012  

The May-June 2012 Journal Magazine from the Minnesota School Boards Association