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Volume 62, No. 3

Ethics of Leadership


fo r




Showing Darkness in a Whole New Light


Lessons Learned from H1N1


November-December 2009

Happy Holidays from Wells Fargo Government & Institutional Banking We wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season. Wells Fargo Government & Institutional Banking is proud to participate in the 89th annual MSBA Leadership Conference January 14-15 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Come visit us at booth # 410.

Pam Lang Senior Vice President (800) 267-1262

Mary Webster Assistant Vice President (800) 832-2265, ext. 73110 Wells Fargo Public Finance (WFPF) bankers are registered representatives of Wells Fargo Brokerage Services, LLC, or Wells Fargo Institutional Securities, LLC, brokerage affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company and Members of FINRA and SIPC. © 2009 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved


The purpose of the MSBA Insurance Trust (MSBAIT) is “to provide for its members and their employees and officials various forms of insurance, including any forms of permitted Amy Fullenkamp-Taylor group insturance, for the benefit of school 800-324-4459 districts which are members of the MSBA and to effectuate cost savings in the procurement and administration of such programs.” John Sylvester For more information about MSBAIT, visit 800-324-4459 Denise Drill 800-324-4459

Property, Inland Marine, and Crime Workers’ Compensation School Leaders’ Legal Liability Automobile



Group Term Life Long-Term Disability General Liability Excess Liability


Calendar N OV E M B E R 2 0 0 9

Divisions 5 6 35

STRAIGHT TALK Bob Meeks, MSBA Executive Director PRESIDENT’S COLUMN Jackie Magnuson, MSBA President

ASK MSBA Denise Drill, Director of Financial/MSBAIT Services

Articles 8



DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR KIDS 89th Annual Leadership Conference


LESSONS LEARNED FROM H1N1 Scott Staska, Gary Kubat and Katie Kaufman





1 .............Daylight Saving Time Ends 3 .............Election Day (no meetings or activities 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.) 4-5 ..........MSBA Board of Directors’ Meeting 11 ...........Veterans Day (no meetings) 11-12 ......MSBA Pre-Delegate Assembly Meetings 14 ...........MSBA Pre-Delegate Assembly Meetings 17 ...........Minnesota School District Liquid Asset Fund Plus Annual Meeting 26 ...........Thanksgiving Day (no meetings) 27 ...........Optional Holiday (no meetings if declared a holiday)

DECEMBER 2009 1 .............MSBA New Board Member Orientation – Phase I, Marshall 3 .............MSBA New Board Member Orientation – Phase I, Plymouth & Owatonna 4 .............MSBA Insurance Trust Meeting 4 .............MSBA Board of Directors’ Meeting 4-5 ..........MSBA Delegate Assembly 9 .............MSBA New Board Member Orientation – Phase I, St. Peter 11 ...........MSBA New Board Member Orientation – Phase I, St. Cloud 12 ...........MSBA Phase II Orientation, St. Cloud 25 ...........Christmas Day (no meetings)

J A N U A RY 2 0 1 0 1 .............New Year’s Day (no meetings) 4 .............Terms Begin for Newly Elected Board Members 12 ...........MSBA New Board Member Orientation – Phase I, Minneapolis 13 ...........MSBA Phase II Orientation, Minneapolis 13 ...........MSBA Board of Directors’ Meeting 13 ...........Early Bird Workshops 14-15 ......MSBA Leadership Conference 15 ...........MSBA Board of Directors’ Meeting 18 ...........Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday Observed (no meetings) 26 ...........Officers’ Workshop, Bemidji 30 ...........Officers’ Workshop, Plymouth

The MSBA Journal thanks the students of Prior Lake-Savage High School for sharing their art with us in this issue. COVER ART: Andrew Dang



OFFICERS President: Jackie Magnuson, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan DISTRICT DIRECTORS District 1: Mary Kleis, Austin District 2: Kent Thiesse, Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial District 3: Daniel Zimansky, Tracy Area District 4: Carol Bomben, Eden Prairie District 5: Marilynn Forsberg, Spring Lake Park District 6: Rolf Parsons, White Bear Lake District 7: Roz Peterson, Lakeville District 8: Elona Street-Stewart, St. Paul District 9: Karen Kirschner, Mora District 10: Nancy Dashner, Frazee-Vergas District 11: Walter Hautala, Mesabi East District 12: Gary Lee, Fertile-Beltrami STAFF Bob Meeks: Executive Director Barbara Lynn: Executive Assistant/Director of Board Operations John Sylvester: Deputy Executive Director Tiffany Rodning: Deputy Executive Director Greg Abbott: Director of Communications Denise Drill: Director of Financial/MSBAIT Services Amy Fullenkamp-Taylor: Associate Director of Management Services Sandy Gundlach: Director of School Board Services Bill Kautt: Associate Director of Management Services Grace Keliher: Director of Governmental Relations Katie Klanderud: Director of Board Development Bruce Lombard: Associate Director of Communications Bob Lowe: Director of Management Services Kelly Martell: Director of Technology Cathy Miller: Director of Legal and Policy Services Sue Munsterman: MSBA Advertising Kirk Schneidawind: Associate Director of Governmental Relations Mike Torkelson: Elections/Management Services Specialist The MSBA Journal (USPS 352-220) is published bimonthly by the Minnesota School Boards Association, 1900 West Jefferson Avenue, St. Peter, Minnesota 56082. Telephone 507-934-2450. Entered as Third Class matter at St. Peter, Minnesota, permit No. 6. 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.

Advice for school board candidates Take this job seriously. This is serious business. What we do will make a difference in this community, in this state . . . You can make a difference in the lives of young people, and what better calling is there than that? Brainerd School Board member Lew Hudson

Parents keeping kids home for fear of H1N1

AYP and farming Currently, all students are expected to reach the same academic benchmarks no matter what their skill and knowledge level was when they entered the classroom. With this model, districts are given little credit for the gains of low achieving or disadvantaged students. This rewards schools more for whom they teach than how well they teach. A District 518 School Board member likened this to farming: It would be like saying that the best farmers are those that end with a yield per acre above the state average. What if one farmer started with soil conditions that were considered to be above average and yet produced what would be considered only an average crop—yet, a second farmer with significantly less than average soil conditions was able to produce a better than expected crop, though still under the state average yield. Who is the better farmer?

Typically, an absence like that would be unexcused, but we waived it for this week and next week. I want parents to be comfortable in making that choice . . . I’ve not seen anything like this before. It’s new ground for all of us.

Tammy Timko, Worthington coordinator of teaching and

Dick Oscarson, principal

Anoka-Hennepin School Board Chairman Tom Heidemann


Closing school buildings It’s about how to use your facilities in the face of declining enrollment, so you’re using facilities the best way you can and you’re putting teachers in front of students instead of funding empty classrooms . . . I’d love to say let’s not close schools, but I know we have to do this for the long-term health of the school district.

of Eastview Elementary School in Lakeville

Charging parent volunteers a $15 fee for a background check I think it makes schools safer, but it’s a complicated issue. We’ve made it tougher and tougher for parents to actively take part in their child’s education at school. Mankato Area Public Schools principal Les Koppendrayer, Franklin Elementary





T Bob Meeks MSBA Executive Director

With full representation from all areas of the state at the December Delegate Assembly, MSBA is assured that all school districts and school board members are fully represented and all voices heard in the development of our Legislative Platform.

Times change and so does your MSBA. While sometimes the easiest road to take is the one that has been traveled for decades, every once in a while we need to find a better way to do something so that we have the best possible solution for a vital issue. The selection of MSBA Delegate Assembly members is of utmost importance to the “grassroots” legislative process that is the strength of MSBA’s legislative advocacy program.

mail ballot election to reduce the number of candidates down to the allocated number of Delegates. In some Delegate Assembly Area Groups, where in the past we had limited to minimal Delegates, we have filled all of the available slots! The response from you and other school board members across the state who want to serve on the Delegate Assembly has been the biggest we’ve seen in at least 10 years.

Ever since the MSBA was incorporated in 1920, we have selected our Delegate Assembly members at our Fall Area Legislative Meetings held throughout the state. That system worked well for many years, but we have noticed in the past few years that we were not getting an adequate number of school board members who were willing to serve on the Delegate Assembly. In some limited situations Delegate Assembly positions were left unfilled because of the lack of members able and willing to serve.

Why is this so important to you? The Delegates determine what we strive to get passed at the Legislature during the upcoming 2010 Legislative Session. The Delegates vote on the resolutions that school board members and school boards submit to the Delegate Assembly, for consideration. With full representation from all areas of the state at the December Delegate Assembly, MSBA is assured that all school districts and school board members are fully represented and all voices heard in the development of our Legislative Platform. With a strong grassroots approach to lobbying, we become even more effective at the Legislature when we have full representation of our membership on the Delegate Assembly.

The MSBA Board of Directors knew that something had to change in order to get greater school board member participation in the Delegate Assembly process. This past year your MSBA Governmental Relations team of Grace Keliher and Kirk Schneidawind brought to the MSBA Board a recommendation to change the selection process from one based on attendance at the Fall Area Legislative Meetings to a process that uses a “mail ballot.” After serious consideration, the MSBA Board approved taking the recommended necessary bylaws to the membership at the Annual Business Session held during the 2009 Leadership Conference for an up or down vote. After floor debate, the membership gave the Board and staff the authority to change the selection process for Delegate Assembly members. I’m very happy to report to you that the change in the selection process has paid off and worked very well! In 14 of our 30 Area Groups we had so many school board members wanting to serve on the Delegate Assembly that we had to hold a

I hope you found the Delegate Assembly Member nomination process, the mail ballot procedures, and the results of the selection provisions convenient and successful this first year. Your MSBA Board of Directors and staff learned a few things that will help us make future selection of Delegate Assembly members more streamlined and easier to complete. My thanks to all of the school board members who were willing to give some additional time and effort to the development of the MSBA Legislative Platform. The 2010 Legislative Session will be one that has a substantial number of very serious challenges for school board members and superintendents. Our Delegate Assembly has put us in a good position to address the challenges that will come! NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2009




As I get ready for our next year on the MSBA Board of Directors, I know I have gained much more from serving on the board than what I ever thought I could coming into it.

Jackie Magnuson MSBA President

Education will be hitting more hard times, and we need the best board members we can get.



I’ve seen how state and federal politics can affect school districts. I’ve seen how your organization responds and helps board members with their questions and concerns. It has brought a whole new perspective on how I approach my own board. And that opportunity can be yours. During the next couple months, board members from across the state have a chance to apply for a board position at MSBA, simply by calling Director of Board Operations Barb Lynn at 800-324-4459. For 2010, positions will be wide open in District 2 (South Central Minnesota) and District 6 (Ramsey County and Washington County area). There are also elections in District 5 (Anoka County) and District 11 (Northeastern Minnesota). And after Election Day, there could be more spots available, so look for MSBA’s Boardcaster and the Web site for more information.

If you are a board member from these areas, you should seriously consider running for a spot to become part of your association. Our office staff will send you mailing labels so you can alert members in your district that you are running and would like their vote. We also send you a list of board meetings you will be expected to attend during the year. Voting takes place at the Leadership Conference, Thursday, January 14, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday, January 15, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. New board members take office right after the conference is completed.

One of the first items of business I remember is preparing to meet our federal representatives in Washington, D.C. The week was full of advocacy training, walking to the Capitol to meet with Senators and Representatives, and learning just how big a role the federal government now plays in education. Along the way, you’ll find some wonderful friendships and great networking for ideas to try in your district. My favorite part of the meeting is going around the table to see what issues each person is facing in their district. It is a goldmine of ideas to try, advice on how to keep from stumbling through a hurdle your district may face, or simply to tell what happened to you on your board, to a group of people who TOTALLY understand where you are coming from. When you drive back home, you have a whole new perspective on school boards, the state, and your association that you don’t get on your local board. So if you are looking for a challenge and are up to getting a statewide view on education issues, give a call. Education will be hitting more hard times, and we need the best board members we can get.

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are You a Good leader?

Michael Langguth

You will be if You draw on keY ethical principles. here’s how to do it, whether You’re a school board member, ceo, or anYone else in business


“Never underestimate the other guy’s greed.” This isn’t just a classic line from the 1983 Brian De Palma film, Scarface. It also reflects the attitude that has caused the economic disaster we’re now clawing ourselves out of. Isn’t it time for a new way of thinking? I propose the following leadership guidelines for C-level executives, investment bankers, school board members, superintendents, and everyone else whose decisions can affect the financial well-being of other people.1

Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.



1. what’s Good for the Gander is Good for the Goose. At a time when companies are slashing their labor forces and freezing salary increases, and when some employees are being asked to take lower-paying positions, it is deeply unethical for leaders to retain their high compensation and to expect big bonuses.2 They should follow the example of Michael Kneeland, CEO of United Rentals, who recently asked for, and was given, a 20% pay cut. Let’s hear more reports like this one.

2. know Your product. According to a recent three-part story in The Wall Street Journal, the willingness of investors to buy and sell financial products whose complexity they didn’t fully understand was one of the primary catalysts of the bust. From our current sober perspective, it seems unbelievable that self-identified experts could be involved in transactions with so much at stake and at the same time be ignorant about exactly what it is they were buying or selling, but this is what happened— and on a grand scale, no less. Because money was being made in these deals, no one thought to question what was going on or had the strength of character to speak up about any suspicions. However, knowing your product isn’t a nicety of doing business. It is an ethical obligation—to your company, your clients, and yourself.

3. winninG (at all costs) is for losers. Most of us were taught that we should treat people the way we’d like to be treated ourselves. However, too many business leaders have failed to take this seriously. Instead, the guideline seems to be, “Get all you can by any means necessary.” Look at credit card companies that charge exorbitant interest rates, changing customers’ fees without telling them why.3 These companies defend such practices on the grounds that they will lose their competitive edge if they don’t play hardball. This kind of leadership is shortsighted, unfair, and ultimately bad for business, since the consequences will be more federal regulation and oversight. Good leaders know that if they don’t regulate their businesses themselves, someone else will.

4. tell the truth. A leader has an ethical obligation to be honest with stakeholders about issues that directly concern them. One of these issues is the leader’s own health. Consider the recent 10% drop in Apple stock after CEO Steve Jobs announced that he was taking a fivemonth medical leave of absence. Because Jobs battled pancreatic cancer several years ago, there was speculation that his cancer had returned, even though Jobs had announced earlier that he was merely suffering from a “hormone imbalance.” While stockholders may have punished Jobs for his announcement, he did the right thing in saying he was taking a leave for medical reasons. There is no shame in being ill, and true leadership involves being forthcoming about one’s illness—and anything else that can affect the flourishing of the organization.

5. preVent harm. When you can reasonably foresee that a decision is likely to hurt people and you make that decision anyway, you’re being both irresponsible and stupid. For example, subprime mortgage lenders and brokers who lend money to people likely to default are enriching themselves at the expense of the rest of us, since the federal government may be called upon for financial rescue.4 What such predators don’t realize is that in the long run, their practices will come back to haunt them in the form of bankruptcy filings, bad PR, and perhaps even prison time for the worst offenders. The good leader recognizes that preventing harm to clients and company alike is both an ethical responsibility and a wise business policy.

6. don'’t eXploit. It is easy to take advantage of a situation for financial gain, but doing so isn’t consistent with good leadership. After Hurricane Ike hit last year, the wholesale price of gasoline shot up, which was nothing more than price gouging. In the short run, companies that exploited a natural tragedy may have profited financially, but the longterm negative consequences are real and significant: In New York State, for example, more than a dozen companies were fined more than $60,000 for unfair business practices following Hurricane Katrina.5 Of course, the reason to do the right thing is simply because it is the right thing to do. But it is also true that taking the low road can be harmful professionally and personally.



are You a Good leader?

7. don’'t make promises You can’'t keep.….. …and keep the promises you make. There are rare circumstances in which we not only have a right but an ethical obligation to break a promise, but generally speaking, we have a strong duty to be true to our word. This is, after all, one of the primary ways that we show our respect to people.6 Recall that last March, Dr Pepper said it would give out free cans of soda to “everyone in America” if Chinese Democracy, the long-overdue album from Guns ’n’ Roses, came out by the end of the year. When Axl Rose surprised the music world by releasing the album in November, the beverage company was unable to deliver a soft drink to everyone who wanted one. (Whether it’s ethical for a band that has only one of its original members to call itself “Guns ’n’ Roses” is another matter.) Good leaders are careful to make only those promises they are likely to keep and keep the promises they do make. When they are unable to keep those promises, they own up to it, which brings us to the next rule of good leadership:

8. take responsibilitY for Your mistakes. Transparency and accountability should be the new buzzwords. This means, in part, that business leaders who make mistakes should apologize to those they have let down and do whatever is necessary to make amends.7 In the wake of the toy industry’s lead paint scare in 2007, Mattel CEO Robert Eckert took the high road and told a Senate subcommittee that the company failed “by not closely overseeing subcontractors in China whose toys didn’t meet U.S. safety standards,” and that Mattel was working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure that these products would be safer. It must have been extraordinarily difficult for Eckert to apologize publicly, but by finding the courage to do so, he demonstrated ethical leadership.

9. people, not profits. We often recite—incorrectly—President Calvin Coolidge’s statement, “The business of America is business.” (What he actually said was, “The chief business of the American people is business.”) But far more important is what followed that statement: “Of course, the accumulation of wealth cannot be justified as the chief end of existence.” Coolidge’s policies are often blamed for bringing about the Great Depression, but if enough people had heeded the latter statement, perhaps our history would have been different. Money has no intrinsic value; it is good only for what it can get us. For the good leader, this means that the ultimate goal in business—and life—is not hoarding riches but making things better for all, especially the neediest.

10. be kind, not kinG. The relentless quest to be No.1 can blind us to what’s really valuable in life: being a decent human being. Yes, good leaders are enthusiastically devoted to accomplishing their mission, but this pursuit cannot be at the expense of the well-being of others. For example, leaders with the unenviable task of letting people go will avoid taking the easy way out.8 No one likes being the bearer of bad news, but the good leader does so with the dignity that leadership of the highest order demands.

bonus rule: You are not Your career. It’s admirable to be passionate about your job, but passion can easily become obsession, and that’s where the danger starts. When your life’s work becomes your life, it is time to take a step back and reevaluate your priorities. I’ve already shown why you ought to take vacations9 and stay home when you’re sick.10 More critical than either of these is recognizing what’s really important in life—and it’s not your career, no matter how satisfying that may be. Good

a leader has an ethical obliGation to be honest with stakeholders about issues that directlY concern them. 10


leaders not only make room for family, friends, and spirituality; they know these are the things that truly make life worth living. It should be obvious by now that the above rules apply not just to those in the financial sector but to everyone else, too. They are, after all, based on the five fundamental principles of ethics: Do No Harm, Make Things Better, Respect Others, Be Fair, and Be Loving. As Peter Drucker pointed out, it is not enough to do things right; we must also do the right things. The good leader today is concerned not only with getting from A to B, but with deciding whether B is worth getting to in the first place. Dr. Bruce Weinstein is the public speaker and corporate consultant known as The Ethics Guy. His new book, Is It Still Cheating If I Don’t Get Caught? (Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press), shows teens how to solve the ethical dilemmas they face. Bruce will be MSBA’s keynote speaker for the 2010 Leadership Conference in January.

references 1. 2. 3. content/aug2008/db20080826_832238.htm 4. 08_48/b4110036448352.htm 5. 6. ca20070131_992542.htm 7. ca20070621_930786.htm 8. sep2008/ca20080912_135498.htm 9. jul2008/ca20080729_038623.htm 10. feb2008/ca20080226_173434.htm

DLR Group

Architecture Engineering Planning Interiors

Contact: Troy Miller, REFP - Phone: 612/977-3500 -

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for Kids Minnesota School Boards Association

89th Annual Leadership Conference January 14-15, 2010 Minneapolis Convention Center

It’s not easy to do the right thing, especially when times are tough. But Minnesota educators need to do the right thing for kids, even when others don’t. When state funding falls short year after year, when parents don’t participate in the education of their kids, when operating levies fail, school boards and school leaders are the last resort for kids. The many challenges faced by schools does not give anyone an excuse to cut corners or take the easy way out because we all need to do the right thing for our children. MSBA’s annual conference is packed with information and inspiration to help school leaders focus on how to improve as a board, as a district and as a place of high achievement for every student. The General Session speakers will bolster your courage to put your students first and do the right thing.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS Dr. Bruce Weinstein Thursday, Jan. 14

Doing the Right Thing Ethical dilemmas arise every day—from getting back too much change at the grocery store to issues as a board member. It might even be said that ethical standards can fall by the wayside when the pressure is on. Nationally known ethics expert Bruce Weinstein examines how to lead a more ethical, and ultimately more fulfilling life at and away from the board table.

Bryan Townsend Friday, Jan. 15

Making Good Things Happen Good things do not happen by accident. They happen on purpose when people who care about the right things accept responsibility and do whatever it takes to make good things happen, even in difficult situations. Join Bryan as he takes a humorous look at interpersonal relationships and what it takes to make good things happen in this world of people.



PRE-CONFERENCE TRAINING SESSIONS Phase I: New Board Member Orientation 7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12, Hilton Minneapolis As a new board member, hit the ground running by attending this session. Phase I covers the role of the school board, the role of the superintendent, and common scenarios new board members may face.

Phase II Orientation 8:45 a.m. – 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, Hilton Minneapolis Phase II includes the mandatory financial training school boards are required to have by state law. The session also covers core topics such as the budget, school financing, local levies, policies, significant laws affecting school boards, collective bargaining and personnel issues.

EARLY BIRDS Leading by Leveraging Your Mission 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, Hilton Minneapolis Tuition: $50, walk-ins add $10 Presenter: Donna Rae Scheffert, University of Minnesota Emeritus Extension Professor There are not enough resources today for fulfilling many important public missions by “going it alone.” That is why schools, hospitals, local governments and others are tapping talent that is not on their payroll. How do you activate residents, business executives, nonprofit staff, public managers and others in contributing to your mission of education? Find out how to put others in action.

Put a spark in your child’s life 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, Minneapolis Convention Center Tuition: $50; walk-ins add $10 Presenter: Dr. Peter Benson, author and Search Institute founder Dr. Peter Benson, creator of Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, will lead a discussion on a simple, yet powerful plan for awakening the spark that lives inside each and every young person. Based on his recent book, “Sparks, How Parents Can Help Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers,” Dr. Benson will share strategies to help adults provide support and guidance for young people to experience joy, energy and direction in school and in life. Attend this session to learn ways you can change a young person’s life from one of “surviving” to “thriving.”

Responding Effectively to the Media in Times of Crisis 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, Minneapolis Convention Center Tuition: $50; walk-ins add $10 Presenters: Shamus O’Meara, Esq., Partner, Johnson & Condon; Thomas Heffelfinger, Esq., Partner, Best & Flanagan; Brett Johnson, Assistant Director of Communications & Public Relations for Anoka-Hennepin Schools Moderator: David Kyllo, Senior Vice President, Riverport Insurance Company Bomb threats, pandemics, shootings, weather disasters . . . the pressure is on and the media wants answers. Join the discussion of a panel of experts on how Minnesota school districts can prepare for and respond to the media when a crisis hits and people demand answers. Discuss the role of administrators, staff and other school leaders in the crisis management and media relations process. Hear practical suggestions and recommendations for your school district based on real crisis experiences of Minnesota school districts.



2010 Exhibitor Academy Thursday, January 14 8:00 a.m. – Lightspeed Technologies, Inc. Soundfield Classroom Audio: Improve Achievement, Increase Literacy, and Reduce Teacher Absenteeism

12:30 p.m. – Stahl Construction Company Analyzing Construction Management Fees & Compensation 1:00 p.m. – Ardent Lighting Group, LLC Lighting Solutions

Friday, January 15 8:00 a.m. – First Tech / Promethean Marzano’s Results With Promethean Active Classroom

1:30 p.m. – MSBA/National Playground Compliance Group Playground Safety and Compliance

8:30 a.m. – Avert Center for Safer Schools / MIPH Safe and Healthy Schools: Effective Strategies

2:00 p.m. – Educators Benefit Consultants 403(b) Administration and Compliance Service

9:00 a.m. – Britannica Digital Learning Exploring Your Resources Through Britannica Online

11:00 a.m. – Dashir Management Services, Inc. What is Facility Management?

2:30 p.m. – DLR Group Maximizing Your Deferred Maintenance Investments

9:30 a.m. – Riverport Insurance Company The Basics of Property and Casualty Insurance

11:30 a.m. – Automated Logic - Twin Cities Go Green with Automated Logic Green Screen

3:00 p.m. – Innovative Power Systems Solar for Schools 101 - Using Federal Stimulus Grants

10:00 a.m. – Minnesota FCCLA (Family, Career & Community Leaders of America) FCCLA Dynamic Leadership

8:30 a.m. – Kiefer Specialty Flooring Mondo Flooring Surfaces 9:00 a.m. – Wold Architects and Engineering Save Money Without Sacrificing the Learning Environment 9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. – General Session

12:00 p.m. – U.S. Army Strong Students, Strong Schools, Strong Nation



Our Distinguished Group of 2010 Conference Exhibitors ACI Financial, Inc. Equipment financing and leasing

Armstrong, Torseth, Skold & Rydeen, Inc. (ATS&R) Specialize in K-12 school planning, architecture, engineering, technology, interior design, and site development

ADM Group, The Educational consulting

Athletic Performance Solutions Athletic flooring

Advanced Masonry Restoration, Inc. Exterior masonry restoration service

Automated Logic - Twin Cities Energy and lighting management solutions, Green Screen Technologies

A’viands Food & Services Management Food service management

AIM Electronics/Daktronics, Inc. Electronic scoreboard/message displays, logo tables and chairs and mats American Student Transporation Contracted bus services Anderson-Johnson Associates, Inc. Landscape architecture, civil engineering, site planning Architects Rego + Youngquist inc. Architectural planning, design and management of educational facilities Ardent Lighting, LLC Sports lighting, decorative street lighting, decorative poles

Avert Center for Safer Schools/MIPH Tools, training, services and support to increase the capacity for safer schools BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota Health insurance Bossardt Corporation Construction management services Britannica Digital Learning Britannica online school edition ByteSpeed, LLC Computer sales

We write the book

CEI Engineering Associates Civil engineering, athletic sport complex design, pavement management services Center for Efficient School Operations, The Consulting services to school districts in the areas of facilities, health and safety, and transportation Chartwells School Dining Services Food service management Clearwater Recreation, LLC Playground equipment and site furniture Collaborative Design Group, Inc. Architectural, interior design, planning, structural engineering and historic preservation services Contegrity Group Incorporated Construction management services Corporate Express, a Staples Company Scholastic furniture, supplies and facilities Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A. Architecture and educational planning Dashir Management Services, Inc. Building maintenance and custodial management

on Education Law.

Our significant knowledge base and experience makes us well versed in all facets of education law: public employment and employee relations, student matters, school finance, elections, bond counsel services, construction, real estate, school board matters, contracts, discrimination and harassment, data privacy, special education, constitutional issues and more.



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Conference Exhibitors Continued from page 15 DLR Group Architecture, engineering, planning, interiors, construction management, commissioning and facility asset management evaluations Donlar Construction Company Construction management, general contracting and design/build services EAPC Full-service architecture and engineering EcoTek Facility Health and Wellness Education Minnesota ESI Financial Services Financial services and tax-qualified administration and compliance services

HealthPartners Insurance

Larson Engineering, Inc. Engineering services

Hiller Commercial Floors Commercial floor covering

LHB Architecture and engineering

Hoglund Bus Co., Inc. International school buses, parts, and service

Lightspeed Technologies, Inc. Achieving the teacher-student connection with classroom audio technology

Hunter-Grobe Architects/Planners Architecture/construction I & S Group Architecture; interior design; structural, mechanical, electrical, civil engineering; land surveying; natural resources mgt.; landscape architecture ICS Consulting Project planning and construction owners representation services IEA Environmental consulting

Educators Benefit Consultants Third party administrator, HSA, HRA and flex plan administration

Indiana Insurance Insurance

Ehlers Independent public financial advisory services

Innovative Modular Solutions Award-winning new and used modular classrooms and office space for sale or lease

Electronic Design Company Audio, visual and critical communications design installation and service

Innovative Power Systems Solar Energy

Empirehouse, Inc. Energy-efficient windows, heavy-duty entrance doors, glass and metal railing systems, decorative glass, and egress consultation services Energy Services Group Facility improvement, ventilation upgrade and energy efficiency consulting and implementation services

INSPEC, INC. Architectural/engineering firm Intereum Furnishings, architectural products and installation services Johnson Controls, Inc. Indoor air environments

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Conference Exhibitors Continued from page 17 Seating & Athletic Facility Enterprises, LLC Indoor and outdoor seating (new and renovations); e.g., telescopic bleachers, grandstands, portable bleachers Shaw Industries Commercial carpets Skyward, Inc. Skyward student, budgetary and human resources administrative software exclusively for K-12 school districts—public and private Smiley Glotter Nyberg Architects Architectural school planning and design Sports Technology Sports field lighting Springsted Incorporated Provides independent financial advisory and consulting services to school districts Stahl Construction Construction management, general contracting, design/build, and referendum assistance

Student Assurance Services, Inc. Student accident and catastrophic insurance

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Scott Erickson

LESSONS LEARNED FROM DEALING WITH H1N1 Scott Staska, Gary Kubat and Katie Kaufman


As the list of schools in Minnesota dealing with H1N1 continues to grow, MSBA asked a few school officials about their experience in dealing with H1N1 to see if they had any advice and insight on what lessons they learned in dealing with the flu outbreak. These lessons can be important when dealing with a future outbreak—whether bird flu or another pandemic. Here are their experiences and lessons learned:

ROCORI: The first school in the state to deal with H1N1 During the situation at ROCORI, we found it very important to provide regular communications to our parents. The goal in our communications process was to share at the beginning and end of each day so that parents understood our situation and could be kept ahead of the news broadcasts. Our automated 20


system, “School Messenger,” helped dramatically in the communications process. Our system allowed us to send voice, email and text messages to anyone within our system. What we did in the process was to simply provide any new or additional information that we could offer to parents and staff. Messages were intended to reassure constituents of the work we were doing, provide any updates we could offer on the influenza situation, and respond to any “issues” circulating throughout the community. The message system proved to be very successful for us. In fact, in follow-up, we were asked by some of our business leaders if there was any way that the internal school messaging system could be extended to our business community. Several leaders, who had students in our system, relied on our communications to share information within their business setting.

Handling Makeup Time

The experience of being first

In the ROCORI situation, the middle school site was closed while the other four buildings in the district remained in operation. From a management perspective, this situation presents a number of questions and concerns.

The experience in ROCORI was unique in that it was the first case in the state of Minnesota. The uniqueness meant the Governor, Commissioner of Education, and Department of Health were directly involved in identifying, assessing, and acting on the situation.

Logistically, it is almost more difficult (especially on an extended basis) to close a single building than it is to close an entire district. Elements of student learning opportunities, student contact time, employment contracts, and transportation agreements (among other things) all come into play. While these are also issues with an entire district closing, they become much more intense and profound in dealing with a single building because there is less uniformity in application of a solution. One of the first issues we encountered was the question, “Is there a difference between what is expected for students and what is expected for staff?” Certainly our school calendar indicates an expectation of the number of student contact days and the amount of time that we expect students to be in school. This issue is about providing the learning opportunity for students. Our school board and the feedback from the ROCORI community indicated there was a difference in expectations for students and staff. The feeling expressed was that when students are not able to be in the school setting because of circumstances beyond their control, is it acceptable to change the expected amount of time. As ROCORI discussed the issue, there was a clear sense that, with all of the other school buildings operating as normal, it would not be fair to expect the middle school students to make up the time.

We experienced considerable media and public attention because of the situation. Schools throughout the state monitored our situation and our responses. Our situation set patterns and precedence for others that followed. The fact that there were many unknowns and uncertainties influenced our situation. Only a few other examples across the nation had occurred when the first case was identified in ROCORI. There were few other models or examples to use. Much of the information came from the Department of Health based on the guidelines and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control. We learned a great deal, in a very short order, about H1N1 situations and the spread of the virus. We learned, from personal experience, the tensions and difficulties in maintaining high levels of confidentiality and data privacy.

What we did right; what we’d like to improve The ROCORI School District had excellent insight and support from the Governor’s office, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health. The guidance and direction from these resources made many of the decisions in the process relatively easy.

When it came to the same question regarding staff members, however, there was a different sentiment. Employee contracts provided a key difference in how the issue was perceived. Because staff members have an employment contract with the school district, there was a sense that employees ought to be accountable for the contracted time.

Our communications efforts within our district and our community were important in the process. We were able to use our School Messenger instant messaging system to keep our staff, parents, and community informed of the situation and our condition. The system allows us to send phone, email, and text messages to our school community in a very efficient manner. The system was implemented in order to meet situations like this and it worked very effectively.

Consistency across the employee groups was also an important issue to consider. As employees completed time, how could the makeup provisions be developed to be “fair” across the system? Some positions would be much more difficult than others.

There were many issues handled well. Our communications processes allowed us to minimize or reduce people’s fears and to instill a sense of calm to our community. It allowed us to react but not to overreact to the situation.

Food service and paraprofessional employees, for example, typically need to have students in session to have meaningful activities. Year-round positions, such as custodians and some secretarial positions, really have no flexibility or opportunity to “make up” time when a day (or more) is missed. Other positions, cleaners and clerical support, could be structured to complete additional activities to make the time meaningful and productive. Ultimately, the decisions on time came down to students not having to make up time (primarily due to the logistics of trying to make up days for one building). Staff members were “excused” for two days and were expected to make up two days.

Our previous experiences with media coverage helped us to anticipate the issues and information the media would desire in the process. Understanding the information desired allowed us to work with the media, rather than against the media, through the coverage of the situation. Working through the issues of staff makeup time proved to be a challenge. Simply because of the timing of the event— near the end of the school year—there were not as many options available to the district to consider as if the situation had occurred earlier in the school year. Issues of confidentiality also presented many challenges. In our case, we were not able to share whether it was a staff member or a student experiencing the H1N1 conditions. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2009



Assumptions were clearly made, by many people, that the situation had to involve a student and, because there would (in all likelihood) be siblings, concerns were expressed across the district about potential exposure through other family members. The fact that our situation did not involve student exposure would have helped to allay the fears of many families, but we could not address that fact. The concern about exposure spread to other schools. Based on the assumption that a student was involved, other schools expressed concerns about competing against ROCORI students and the threat of exposure during those events. Although we could continually point to the fact that the exposure was limited to the middle school site, the thought that H1N1 exposure could come with any of our teams and students was difficult to overcome with the assumption that a student was involved.

ROCORI’s advice to others Work hard to be a calming, reassuring voice of reason within the community. Hold to high standards of professionalism and reassurance. Encourage everyone to look at the “big picture” of the situation and understand that there is no reason to overreact— reacting with reason helps to resolve the situation; overreaction compounds the situation. Use and rely on the trained professionals in the health fields for information, insight, and guidance. Work closely with the experts in the medical field to understand the situation and convey information to the public in a positive, informative manner. Use the resources available to help share information with your community—both internally and externally. Emphasize appropriate precautions and reasoned approaches.

Orono’s experience with H1N1 The law of averages would suggest that, when the H1N1 influenza virus arrived on the scene last spring, it would first show up in a large metropolitan school district. But no, Orono—one of the smaller metro districts— had the second reported case of H1N1 in the state and the first in the metro area. Instead of being able to learn from the experiences of other districts, we were going to be the teacher. Our most importance piece of advice: Don’t make assumptions—make plans. Our superintendent received a call from the Minnesota Department of Health on a Saturday night to inform her that there was a suspected case of H1N1 at Orono High School. The administrative team was called in Sunday to prepare. Lesson #2: Neither school administrators nor reporters have the weekend off. By the time we concluded our meeting, the District Office parking lot was crawling with large satellite trucks. 22


Since then, the likelihood of having cases of H1N1 has shifted from an “if” to a “when.” Correspondingly, media attention will shift to new angles such as an unusually high number of cases, an H1N1-related death or a shortage of substitute teachers, to name a few possibilities. How will your district respond to both the issue itself and the media interest? In any emergency, your first communication priorities are families and staff members. That’s difficult to execute, however, with a telephone that’s constantly ringing and/or a camera in your face. In Orono, we literally had a line of television reporters waiting for a sound byte. At the same time, we were attempting to send an Instant Alert, post information on our Web site and change voice mail messages. Ideally, you should “divide and conquer.” Have one individual responsible for communicating with parents and staff, while another serves as the district spokesperson. The superintendent, a principal and/or board chair are all likely candidates if your district does not have a designated communications position.

Orono’s advice: Planning, planning and more planning Planning now will help instill confidence in your community before a crisis hits. In Orono, we haven’t experienced an unusually high number of absences yet this fall. But we are taking steps to let our community know that we are prepared and that they play an important role in keeping our learning environments safe. In addition to information about H1N1 on our Web site, we sent a “heads up” Instant Alert message to all families. While you can’t give them the plan in a brief telephone message, you can let them know that a plan exists and where to go for constantly updated information. We’ve also placed constant visual reminders of our focus on student and staff health. Every classroom, bathroom, kitchen and office has age-appropriate posters about the importance of washing your hands, covering your sneeze, etc. It’s little things such as this that can make a big difference. Should you find yourself with an outbreak of H1N1, consult the experts. It’s equally as important to trust your instincts and embrace your uniqueness. Our community engagement efforts have provided us invaluable information about community expectations. That insight guided how we handled our case at Orono High School. We decided to close all schools for one day and only the high school for a second day. The decision was based on the fact that all of our schools are located in close proximity on one campus and because elementary students visited the high school just before the case was reported.

Our experience was also unique in that the guidelines for closing school were in the process of being revised. ROCORI was still out as part of a seven-day closure, while we were being urged to reopen. We did decide to reopen after two days, but only after the revisions were publicly announced and only after ROCORI students returned to classes. Finally, once the storm has passed, debrief as an administrative team. What worked? What could be improved? We received great feedback on the effectiveness of our plan and our communication. There were no major gaps, but each one of us knows something we will do better in the event of a “next time.” Ultimately, the H1N1 experience was a public relations opportunity. What?! That’s right. Use your experience to showcase effective partnerships with the faith community, businesses and civic organizations. Demonstrate how well you communicate. Cultivate a good working relationship with media representatives. There are gems everywhere; you just need to spot them and capitalize on them. Remember, a diamond is just a lump of coal made good under pressure.

Duluth’s experience with H1N1 From the beginning, our Crisis Response Team set several parameters which greatly helped when the CDC and MDH said schools didn’t need to close in response to a confirmed case of H1N1. Our district’s Crisis Response Team for H1N1 consists of about 20 people and includes, but is not limited to, the superintendent, assistant superintendent, and a representative from each of the following groups: communications, school nurses, business services, facilities management, child nutrition, transportation, early childhood, special education, human resources and community education. First, we established the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) as our source for information and guidance. We want to make sure we do the best for our students and staff—we’re not going to make it up as we go along. We shared that with our employees through email, with school families through letters home and information posted on Infinite Campus, and with the community through the media and our Web site. We established a core group within the Crisis Response Team to review communication material, serve as primary spokespeople and manage day-to-day issues. That group includes the assistant superintendent, the communications specialist, a school nurse and a crisis response specialist. We determined who would be responsible for keeping up with changes related to H1N1 and influenza and who would be a liaison to the local health department and other organizations working on H1N1 response within the Duluth community.

Our Crisis Response Team agreed to meet regularly to receive updates and monitor response. When we had a confirmed case of H1N1 at Homecroft School, we used established communication tools to quickly communicate the situation to families at Homecroft and to our staff. Tools included email, a brief auto call message to homes and a letter home to families with more detailed information. We also worked with local media to share information.

Getting the message out Our messages were simple and mostly the same for each audience. They included a brief description of the situation: a confirmed case of H1N1 at Homecroft, the student is out of school, school will stay open, we continue to encourage prevention. We also included the CDC and MDH guidance for keeping schools open. Information came from the district, not the school. Our assistant superintendent served as the spokesperson. While we did have Homecroft parents call with concerns about student safety, using information from the CDC and MDH, we were able to address their questions. We told parents about the confirmation on a Thursday. Friday was an early release day for the district and about a third of Homecroft parents chose to keep their children home for a long weekend. Most came back the following Monday. A handful stayed out longer, about a week. Those families cited good reasons, such as existing respiratory problems, poor health history or a family member with health concerns.

Duluth’s advice Our advice for handling H1N1 goes back to basic communication techniques. Establish a source for expert guidance. Establish a crisis response team that meets regularly to determine strategy and a smaller group to handle day-to-day issues. Determine who within your organization is responsible for keeping up with changes related to H1N1 and influenza and working with outside organizations. Determine spokespeople. Talk about what you’re going to do before H1N1 hits. Develop a response plan and a communication plan. Communicate with staff and parents regularly, keep them updated. Scott Staska is the superintendent for ROCORI schools; Gary Kubat is the Communications Director for Orono Public Schools; and Katie Kaufman works for Duluth Public Schools in public relations.

Nicky Tupy



Showing darkneSS in a whole new light Rochester, Mankato, St. Paul school districts push their science curriculum forward with stateof-the-art planetariums

Viewers at the Mankato East High School Planetarium were regaled by real-time images of the universe during the interactive Astronomy Night hosted by the White House on Oct. 7. Photo courtesy of Pat Christman, The Mankato Free Press


Bruce Lombard

On the evening of Oct. 7, President Barack Obama played host for Astronomy Night at the White House. Our nation’s schools were represented by 150 Washington, D.C.-area middle school students standing on the South Lawn, and students from three Minnesota school districts—seated more than 1,000 miles away.

The Mankato District 77 Planetarium—located at Mankato East High School—was built in 1973. Mankato held its first show for the public in 1997, the same year East science teacher Dave Burgess took over the astronomy program and the directorship of the planetarium. The East planetarium hosted 6,000 visitors last year alone.

The Rochester, Mankato and St. Paul school districts were among the invitees to the White House event. These three districts house planetariums featuring myriad state-of-the-art technologies. One component of that technology allows them to link up with other planetariums around the world via “domecasts.” On this particular night, the three Minnesota school planetariums hooked up with the GeoDome Theater in D.C., which showcased the President’s Astronomy Night.

St. Paul Public Schools’ Como Planetarium, headed by director Dennis Brinkman, has been the anchor for elementary astronomy in the district since 1975. During the 2008-09 school year, the planetarium served more than 20,000 St. Paul students from 54 schools.

The Rochester Mayo High School Planetarium, operated by director Larry Mascotti, became Minnesota’s first school-based planetarium when it opened back in 1966. Since that time, the 60-plusseat planetarium has served nearly 800,000 visitors. Last year’s attendance was more than 14,000. 24


All three planetariums are open to all the schools within their respective school districts. Outside school districts (public, private or charter), education groups (home-schooled students, Scouts) and the community can also experience the planetariums for a nominal fee. During the past school year, more than 8,500 students from 70 other school districts or homeschool groups participated in astronomy lessons at the St. Paul planetarium.

Rochester has done outreach programs for 35 other school districts and for several local entities like community education classes, community colleges and the Rochester Astronomy Club. Burgess said Mankato does classes and shows for groups like the YMCA, the Boy Scouts and after-school programs. Burgess supervises East’s Astronomy Club, which puts on a free show each month.

A room with a Uniview All three school-based planetariums utilize the Uniview digital scaling machine. Uniview is a computer graphic platform that brings information databases to life in a completely interactive 3-D environment. In 2007, Rochester became the first school-based planetarium in the world to install the Uniview program. Mankato and St. Paul followed suit during summer 2008. “The American Museum of Natural History took all the astronomical data known to man and put it into a computer for educational use in classrooms,” Burgess said. “It is actual data: when we show something, it appears as it is (in space).”

All three planetarium directors praised the wonders of the Uniview system. “For teaching science, this is very impressive, awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping,” Burgess said. “People are amazed by the whole system. It allows us to go anywhere in the universe. You see the microwave radiation from the Big Bang, which has taken 14 billion years to reach Earth. It gives you a real perspective of our place in the universe. It is really humbling.” Burgess also noted that Uniview can display how far carrier waves (TV and radio signals) released first from Earth, postWorld War II, have traveled. Mascotti singled out the immersive quality of Uniview’s digital IMAX-esque presentation. “It makes you feel like you are totally in the picture,” Mascotti said. “Instead of having your nose to glass, you are inside the aquarium.” He added that in an immersive learning environment, all students improve, and that it’s had an especially large effect on female students—which could possibly help turn the tide against the notion that girls are less interested in science than their male counterparts. Mascotti quoted one elementary student’s high praise, calling the presentation “better than cable.”

The Uniview digital scaling machine stores images of stars, planets, asteroids, galaxies and other astronomical objects Brinkman said words like —based on true data “magnificent” and points taken from “awesome” are the ones he Dave Burgess’ Mankato East High School planetarium features a wealth of state-of-thesatellites and telescopes— hears the most often to art technologies. The Mankato and St. Paul school districts followed Rochester as the first school-based planetariums in the world to use the “awe-inspiring” Uniview digital into a computer. Through describe the Uniview scaling program. Uniview, the planetarium presentation. directors can run the Brinkman played a crucial program through a projector to display an immersive role in his planetarium’s acquisition of Uniview. He journey around the Earth and through the charted subsidized the system through money he saved from doing universe. These views of space are made even more public shows—volunteering his own time—to build up a remarkable when projected digitally off each planetarium’s revenue base. 30-foot-diameter domed ceiling, which gives an audience member the visual thrill of an IMAX-theater experience. “It was the fruit of a lot of labor,” Brinkman said. “(Uniview) shows us where things are in the universe,” Burgess said. “These are actual data sets that are manipulated by the computer—not an artist’s rendering. It shows you how things are right this minute on a grand scale.” The celestial coordinates can be altered with ease to give audience members detailed views — from close up or from great distances—of the Earth, the other planets in our solar system or any other outer-space objects.

Rochester, Mankato and St. Paul—along with a handful of other planetariums, including some in Minnesota colleges—are part of the only group of planetariums to have a regional license for Uniview. Along with the Uniview system, the three school planetariums also use optical projectors. Burgess and Brinkman both use the Spitz System 512, while Mascotti uses the Spitz AP3 Projector. Both instruments are capable of simulating the night sky from anywhere on Earth. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2009


Curriculum of the cosmos

Showing darkneSS in a whole new light

Burgess said that Mankato East offers three to four classes per semester through the planetarium, with class sizes ranging from 28 to 54 students per class. He conducts astronomy classes for K-5 students in the school district. Burgess said he teaches students about constellation astronomy, the mythology of stars, and general “what is out there” courses. Burgess also sees social studies applications for the program. For example, Uniview’s view of Earth’s eastern hemisphere, facing away from the sun, shows where the world’s population centers are based on the visible lights. A quick look at South Korea and North Korea makes it evident that the south is much more populous than its northern neighbor. Burgess cited the influence his program had on one of his former students. East graduate Andy Monson, who helped start the Astronomy Club in 1997, is now an astrophysicist. In fact, Monson has discovered a star cluster no one had seen before. “Once he took this class, it spurred his interest,” said Burgess. Burgess said the East Astronomy Club currently has 25 members. He said that one night, with their parents’ permission, the club—comprised of several students with extremely full schedules—opted to stay up until midnight to prep for an upcoming show. Mascotti refers to his planetarium as a “gymnasium for the mind” and the place that connects the “awe with the cerebral aha.” “The universe is very attractive to kids, like dinosaurs,” Mascotti said. “Third graders like to ask: ‘Why are things the way they are?’ or ‘How does it happen?’ I feel so privileged to be in this position to answer these questions. What a gift I have been given.” Mascotti said Rochester also utilizes a Magical Planet Digital Video Globe, a three-foot spherical computer screen, to help expand their curriculum to refocus more emphasis on Earth. He said they are just tapping in to viewing Earth from a meteorological perspective. “Third graders come in for a two-hour session and do comparative studies of Earth, moon and Mars. From their study, they understand the role size plays in determining the surface features of a rocky planet. They then use their newfound knowledge to predict what other planet surfaces like Mercury and Venus will be like,” he said.



Through the digital video globe, students can also see how the world’s land masses were shaped when they were joined together as the Pangaea supercontinent hundreds of millions of years ago. “We can show the story of life on this planet, the changing ocean currents and moving land masses,” Mascotti said. “You would have to go on a self-guided museum tour for that, but here it is a focused, guided instruction experience.” Mascotti said you can just hit a keyboard command to obtain a slew of data. For example, NASA satellites can measure the height of waves that are generated from earthquakes that can create a tsunami. “On the digital video globe, it is easy to see such a local event become a global one that we see from across the world,” he said. St. Paul’s planetarium offers online support to its teachers for the implementation of the district’s Basic Astronomy Curriculum. Planetarium program is a key component of St. Paul’s Elementary Science Framework, allowing students engaging and handson access to 48 percent of the state-required Earth and Space Science benchmarks in grades K-5. Overall, the planetarium supports instruction in nearly 10 percent of all K-12 science standards in the district. “Our curriculum is designed to match the test specs,” Brinkman said. “The curriculum is driven by standards to improve our test results.” Brinkman said visits to the planetarium from first, third, fifth and eighth graders are built in to curriculum. “The planetarium is extended classroom space and not a field trip,” he said. “The kids really do like the planetarium,” Brinkman said. “We are able to show them so much more now. This has expanded my ability to teach . . . we are doing things we couldn’t do two years ago.”

Support from above All three planetarium directors praised their respective superintendents and school boards for championing their programs. “Our superintendent and board members are big supporters of the planetarium,” Brinkman said. “There are a lot of forward thinkers (in the administration and on the school board),” Mascotti said. “I appreciate the hard work those people do to support quality education. The former superintendent, Jerry Williams, and the new superintendent, Romain Dallemand, have been real supporters of our system.”

“I have to give Ed Waltman credit,” Burgess said, recalling a Uniview demonstration/pitch meeting in summer 2008 with the then-superintendent of Mankato Area Public Schools. “Ed said he only had time for 10 minutes—but he stayed for a half hour.” Burgess said after raising a considerable amount of money himself to obtain Uniview, the school board kicked in nearly half of the cost. “The school board was very instrumental in allowing for this to happen,” Burgess said. “The board members thought it was a worthwhile program and a worthwhile machine.” Burgess followed up the demonstration for Waltman with one for the community and other educators. “Everyone was blown away by public showing,” he said.

‘The sky is not the limit’ Brinkman, Burgess and Mascotti said they all have a good relationship with one another. The three directors meet once annually and are always in communication. The three can link their planetariums together for presentations or for staff development. All three directors singled out Joel Halverson, program consultant for the Minnesota Planetarium Society, for his efforts and assistance. “Joel Halverson is the driving force behind all the planetariums in Minnesota,” Brinkman said. To a man, the directors have unbridled passion for their programs. “We are excited to be on the leading edge of technology,” Brinkman said. “It opens the door for a lot of ways to use it.” Recalling the Oct. 7 White House Astronomy Night, Mascotti said, “The President reaffirmed that the sky is not the limit, it is only the beginning. We’re looking at other ways to use (Uniview). At some point, it may get down to the atomic level.”

Useful links Rochester Mayo High School Planetarium Mankato Area Public Schools St. Paul Como Planetarium Minnesota Planetarium Society

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Madeline Harr

The Future of Education Reform


In the national conversation about how to improve our schools, two laws are invoked more than any others: the No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Together, these two laws have sparked a fierce debate about the proper role of the federal government in education and how to improve student academic achievement in a way that takes into account each state and local community’s unique challenges and opportunities.

Rep. John Kline

Certainly, Congress should focus on meeting our obligations to IDEA before we even consider creating new programs or otherwise increasing federal government involvement in education.



As Congress prepares to renew these laws, policymakers have an obligation to look critically at what they have accomplished and what changes are needed. It would be a disservice to parents, teachers, principals, and local school leaders to maintain the status quo at a time when everyone recognizes that reform is necessary.

When it comes to NCLB, virtually everyone agrees that its goal was the right one. Before this law, schools and school districts were systematically leaving certain children behind, masking the wide achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their peers. Often, because test results were not broken down in a way that revealed these disparities, school leaders were unaware that an entire generation of low-income and minority students was falling behind and staying behind. Yet for all the good that has come from this new emphasis on accountability, most parents and local education leaders have found significant confusion and complexity when federal rules written in Washington are applied to individual classrooms in Minnesota and across the nation. Parents and educators feel the law is too rigid, failing to give credit for success and allowing schools to be labeled as failures in their communities. Schools that fall short of achievement targets must follow a list of specific, federally defined requirements to turn their schools around. The flaw in this strategy is obvious: a school in Lakeville, Minnesota, will not face the same challenges as one in Louisville, Kentucky—or Los Angeles, California. Why should we expect a single, federally prescribed solution to be universally effective?

Stephanie Gonyou

Although other matters have pushed education reform to the back burner for Congress, the eventual reauthorization of the law presents a valuable opportunity to focus on flexibility and innovation, recognizing that true reform will spring up from the ground level rather than being forced from the top down by Washington bureaucrats. This is not to say the federal government should play no role at all in educating our children. To the contrary, the federal government has longstanding obligations to our schools that must be met. Under NCLB, the Title I program provides grants to local school systems to equalize educational opportunities for low-income students. This funding helps schools, especially those in lower-income districts, serve disadvantaged students and minimize achievement gaps exposed by NCLB. Another vital federal education priority is funding the excess cost of special education—a challenge for every single school district in America. In 1975, Congress authorized the law known today as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Along with specific educational and legal requirements came a pledge from Congress that the federal government would fund 40 percent of the excess cost of educating children with disabilities. Nearly 35 years later, Congress has never fulfilled that commitment—in fact, the federal government has never even come close, hovering at less than half the level pledged to states. For FY 2010, the federal share is expected to be just 17 percent. Although IDEA has never been fully funded, schools are nonetheless required to comply with its full slate of mandates, which have only grown more complicated over the years. The system has become adversarial, with trial lawyers preferring costly legal battles to cooperation between parents and school leaders. This must change. The upcoming renewal of NCLB and IDEA present an opportunity for Congress to make investments where they are needed—to help low-income students and those with

Colton Shoquist

disabilities—while leaving decisions about what happens in our classrooms to those most qualified to make them: parents and local school leaders. And as we reform these laws, it’s time for Congress to finally make room in the budget for fully funding the special education costs they pledged to cover back in 1975. Certainly, Congress should focus on meeting our obligations to IDEA before we even consider creating new programs or otherwise increasing federal government involvement in education. With these goals in mind, I cannot help but look with skepticism and concern at the Race to the Top Fund and other initiatives being undertaken by the U.S. Department of Education. While I support many of the policy outcomes Secretary Arne Duncan is trying to pursue—for example, expanding access to charter schools and implementing meaningful teacher performance pay—I am wary of the methods by which these policies are being advanced. The Race to the Top Fund itself includes 110 distinct criteria—either requirements or recommendations that schools are pressed to adopt to receive funding under the program. It was Congress that acted—wrongly, I believe—to give the Secretary of Education license to act as a national superintendent. When NCLB and IDEA are addressed, we must do better. We must ensure our schools are overseen by locally elected school boards who know our children’s unique characters, recognize the parents and neighbors who shape a school community, and understand the challenges and opportunities that distinguish their schools from others. We know now the dangers of the federal government overreaching into our schools, and that experience should guide us as we move forward to the next generation of reform. Rep. John Kline (MN-02) is the senior Republican member on the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor.



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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 Van Iwaarden Associates (Jim Van Iwaarden) 10 South Fifth Street, Suite 840 Minneapolis, MN 55402-1010 612-596-5960, Fax 612-596-5999 Architects/Engineers/Facility Planners Architects Rego + Youngquist inc. (Paul Youngquist) 7601 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 200 St. Louis Park, MN 55426 952-544-8941, Fax 952-544-0585 ATS&R Planners/Architects/Engineers (Paul W. Erickson) 8501 Golden Valley Rd., Suite 300 Minneapolis, MN 55427 763-545-3731, 800-545-3731 Fax 763-525-3289 Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A. (Judith Hoskens) 201 Main Street SE, Suite 325 Minneapolis, MN 55414 612-379-3400, Fax 612-379-4400 DLR Group (Troy W. Miller) 520 Nicollet Mall, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-977-3500, Fax 612-977-3600 Foss Architecture & Interiors, Inc. (Robert Ames) PO Box 306 Moorhead, MN 56560 218-236-1202, Fax 218-236-4945



INSPEC, INC. (Fred King) 5801 Duluth St. Minneapolis, MN 55422 763-546-3434, Fax 763-546-8669 Perkins + Will (Ted Rozeboom) 84 10th Street S., Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55403 612-851-5000, Fax 612-851-5001 TSP, Inc. (Rick Wessling) 18707 Old Excelsior Blvd. Minnetonka, MN 55345 952-474-3291, Fax 952-474-3928 Wold Architects and Engineers (Scott McQueen) 305 St. Peter Street St. Paul, MN 55102 651-227-7773, Fax 651-223-5646 Attorneys Adams, Rizzi & Sween, P.A. (Steven T. Rizzi, Jr.) 300 First Street NW Austin, MN 55912 507-433-7394, 877-443-2914 Fax: 507-433-8890 Kennedy & Graven Chartered (Gloria Blaine Olsen) 200 South Sixth Street, Suite 470 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-337-9300, Fax 612-337-9310 Knutson, Flynn & Deans, P.A. (Thomas S. Deans) 1155 Centre Pointe Dr., Suite 10 Mendota Heights, MN 55120 651-222-2811, Fax 651-225-0600

Pemberton, Sorlie, Rufer & Kershner, PLLP (Mike Rengel) 110 N. Mill Fergus Falls, MN 56537 218-736-5493, Fax 218-736-3950 Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A. (Kevin J. Rupp) 730 Second Ave. S. 300 U.S. Trust Bldg. Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-339-0060, Fax 612-339-0038 Construction Mgmt. & Products Bossardt Corporation (John Bossardt) 8300 Norman Center Drive, Suite 770 Minneapolis, MN 55437 952-831-5408 or 800-290-0119 Fax 952-831-1268 Donlar Construction Company (Jon Kainz) 2277 W. Highway 36, Suite 210W Roseville, MN 55113 651-227-0631, Fax 651-227-0132 Kraus-Anderson Construction Co. (Mark Kotten) PO Box 158 Circle Pines, MN 55014 763-786-7711, Fax 763-786-2650 National Safe Surfacing Initiative, LLC (Shannon Godwin/Tim Mahoney) PO Box 506 Carlisle, IA 50047 866-345-6774, Fax: 515-989-0344 R. A. Morton and Associates (Becky Fulton) 3315 Roosevelt Road, Suite 100 St. Cloud, MN 56301 320-251-0262, Fax 320-251-5749

Wells Concrete Products Company (Spencer Kubat) 835 Highway 109 NE Wells, MN 56097 800-658-7049, Fax 507-553-6089 Educational Programs/Services Minnesota State Academies for the Deaf and Blind (Linda Mitchell) 615 Olof Hanson Dr. PO Box 308 Faribault, MN 55021-0308 800-657-3996/507-384-6602 Fax 507-332-5528 Electrical & Communications, Service & Construction Peoples Electric Company (Dean Larson) 277 East Fillmore Avenue St. Paul, MN 55107 651-602-6831 Employee Assistance Program (EAP) The Sand Creek Group, Ltd. (Joan Sirotiak) 610 N. Main Street, #200 Stillwater, MN 55082 651-430-3383, Fax 651-430-9753 Energy Solutions Johnson Controls, Inc. (Arif Quraishi) 2605 Fernbrook Lane N. Plymouth, MN 55447 763-585-5148, Fax 763-566-2208 Environmental Consultants Mississippi Headwaters Chapter, USGBC (Sheri Brezinka/Jennifer Tuttle) 5353 Wayzata Boulevard, Suite 207 Minneapolis, MN 55416 Brezinka: 952-564-3068 Tuttle: 612-596-4860

Financial Management 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 Sunergi, Inc. (Jodie Zesbaugh) 900 Long Lake Road, Suite 220 St. Paul, MN 55112 651-633-2223, Fax 651-633-2229

Playground Equipment MSBA Playground Compliance Program (Shannon Godwin/Tim Mahoney) PO Box 506 Carlisle, IA 50047 866-345-6774, Fax: 515-989-0344

Fire and Security Peoples Electric Company (Sheldon Crabtree) 277 East Fillmore Avenue St. Paul, MN 55107 651-602-6860

Roofing Four Seasons Energy Efficient Roofing, Inc. (Darrell Schaapveld) 410 Quant Ave. North Marine on St.Croix, MN 55047 651-433-2443, Fax 651-433-2834

Food Service Products & Services Lunchtime Solutions, Inc. (Chris Goeb) PO Box 2022 North Sioux City, SD 57049 605-235-0939, Fax 605-235-0942 Taher, Inc. (Jody Pacholke) 5570 Smetana Dr. Minnetonka, MN 55343 952-945-0505, Fax 952-945-0444 Insurance Minnesota School Boards Association Insurance Trust (MSBAIT) (Denise Drill, John Sylvester) 1900 West Jefferson Avenue St. Peter, MN 56082-3015 800-324-4459, Fax 507-931-1515

Public Finance Wells Fargo Public Finance (Pam Lang and Mary Webster) 608 Second Ave. S. - 10th Floor; MAC: N9303-105 Minneapolis, MN 55479 Lang: 605-341-9945/800-267-1262 Webster: 612-667-3110 Fax 605-341-7696

Technology Sunergi, Inc. (Jodie Zesbaugh) 900 Long Lake Road, Suite 220 St. Paul, MN 55112 651-633-2223, Fax 651-633-2229 Technology Education PaySchools (Patrick Ricci) 6000 Grand Ave. Des Moines, IA 50312 281-545-1957, Fax: 515-243-4992 Temperature Control & Building Automation System One Control/Peoples Electric Company (Bill Gausman) 277 East Fillmore Avenue St. Paul, MN 55107 651-602-6839

Transportation Hoglund Bus Co., Inc. (Jason Anderson) 116 East Oakwood Drive PO Box 249 Monticello, MN 55362 763-295-5119, 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 Telin Transportation Group (Todd Telin) 14995 Industry Avenue PO Box 10 Becker, MN 55308 763-262-3328, Fax 763-262-3332

School Supplies/Furniture Corporate Express, a Staples Company (Michael Teetzel) 1233 W. County Road E Arden Hills, MN 55112 651-234-4036, Fax 651-234-4185 Software Systems Skyward, Inc. 868 3rd Street South, Suite 101 Waite Park, MN 56387 800-236-7274 Sunergi, Inc. (Jodie Zesbaugh) 900 Long Lake Road, Suite 220 St. Paul, MN 55112 651-633-2223, Fax 651-633-2229

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Advertisers Wells Fargo Public Finance ...........................................Page 2 MSBAIT...........................................................................Page 2 Taher, Inc. ......................................................................Page 7 Kraus-Anderson Construction Company .....................Page 7 DLR Group ...................................................................Page 11 R. A. Morton and Associates ......................................Page 14 Knutson, Flynn & Deans, P.A. .....................................Page 15 Architects Rego + Youngquist inc. ..............................Page 17 Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A. .......................Page 18 Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A. .................................Page 19 Four Seasons Energy Efficient Roofing, Inc. .............Page 27 Skyward, Inc..................................................................Page 30 Kennedy & Graven Chartered ....................................Page 30 ATS&R ..........................................................................Page 31 MSDLAF+ .....................................................................Page 31 Hoglund Bus Co., Inc. ................................................Page 33 Wold Architects & Engineers .....................................Page 34 MSBA Financial Services..............................................Page 36







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How the Insurance Trust works sustainable—and the MSBAIT is simply not large enough to operate at a deficit;

Denise Drill, Director of Financial/MSBAIT services What is the MSBAIT? The MSBAIT is the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) Insurance Trust. The MSBAIT was established by the MSBA in 1972 as a nonprofit vehicle. Its purpose was—and continues to be—“to provide for its members and their employees and officials various forms of insurance, including any forms of permitted group insurance, for the benefit of school districts which are members of the MSBA and to effectuate cost savings in the procurement and administration of such insurance programs.” Is the rumor that the MSBAIT dissolved true? No. At its March 25, 2009, special meeting, the MSBAIT Board of Trustees acted to put the MSBAIT Group Self-Insured Property/Casualty and Workers’ Compensation Insurance Programs in abeyance. That decision was made for a number of reasons: • the current marketplace – the insurance marketplace has always been cyclical and reactive. As has occurred periodically in the past, MSBA members are currently (and perhaps fortunately) experiencing premium quotations well below what their loss experience demands— premiums that, frankly, are not

• a dwindling book of business – for a self-insured pool of any kind to continue being viable, it needs its members to remain loyal. Over the long haul, self-insurance will be the most cost-effective form of insurance and will provide the coverage and claims handling most specifically pertinent to its members. Unfortunately, the artificially low premiums being offered in the current marketplace have resulted in the MSBAIT’s book of business being reduced to the point at which it cannot generate sufficient premiums; • the protection of MSBA members – at this point in time, the MSBAIT is reserved and financially secure enough to adequately cover its claims liability and save its present and former participants from being assessed. MSBA members can rest assured that the MSBAIT has not dissolved, disappeared, or failed, as some competitors have implied. Rather, by placing the Self-Insured Property/Casualty and Workers’ Compensation Insurance Programs in abeyance, the Trustees have strategically positioned the MSBAIT for possible reentry into the marketplace and to begin underwriting self-insured business if the conditions are deemed favorable. What products/services does the MSBAIT currently offer? While the MSBAIT does not currently solicit, sell, or negotiate insurance products or services, it does provide resources to MSBA members to help them and their insurance agents address risk management needs and concerns through endorsed companies. With respect to property/casualty and workers’ compensation insurance products and services, the MSBAIT

currently endorses Riverport Insurance Company (Riverport) and its “Minnesota Public School Program” for MSBA members. Riverport is a member company of W. R. Berkley Corporation, one of the most prominent companies in the property/casualty insurance industry. Riverport is rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best and serves a variety of customers, including local governments, nonprofit social service agencies, and charitable organizations. Riverport has grown from its Minnesota roots and is now licensed in 49 states and the District of Columbia. The MSBAIT also endorses National Insurance Services (NIS) as the provider of group term life and group long-term disability insurance products and services for MSBA members. NIS has been serving groups such as school districts, cities, counties, and others since 1969. Because of NIS’s comprehensive service it has created a network of satisfied groups in 30 states. In addition, NIS prides itself on maintaining a 95% client retention rate. The MSBAIT has had the privilege of working with NIS for over 29 years. The MSBAIT does not take endorsing companies lightly. To get the MSBAIT’s endorsement, the Trustees make sure companies provide a competitive product backed by a high level of customer service. Both Riverport Insurance Company and NIS have a proven track record of following through when insurance claims are made. With these companies, districts can avoid gimmicks such as only offering coverage up to the partial limits of State Law, which forces districts to buy additional coverage. When looking at the total policies, the MSBAIT finds that districts get the best value with its endorsed providers. To learn more about these endorsed insurers and their programs, please contact your agent or Riverport Insurance Company’s Dave Montgomery at 612-766-3325, or National Insurance Services’ Rob Keller at 800-443-6011.





1900 West Jefferson Avenue, St. Peter, MN 56082-3015 ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED

MSBA is here to serve YOU... DISTRICT FINANCIAL SERVICES Educators Benefit Consultants 403(b) Administration and Compliance Service (ACS) Reduce administrative and compliance burdens associated with 403(b)/457 plans. Develop a five-year financial plan for your district by entering baseline data and assumptions.

John Sylvester

Denise Drill

Minnesota School Boards Association 1900 West Jefferson Avenue St. Peter, MN 56082 800-324-4459; fax 507-931-1515

Educators Benefit Consultants Section 125 Flex Plan Administration Annual discrimination testing and Guaranteed Plan Documents for flex plans make this plan “audit proof.” Contacts: John Sylvester, Deputy Executive Director or Denise Drill, Director of Financial/MSBAIT Services MSBA’s mission is to support, promote, and enhance the work of public school boards and public education.

MSBA Journal: November-December 2009  
MSBA Journal: November-December 2009  

The November-December 2009 issue of the Minnesota School Boards Association Journal magazine.