School board talks progress on Vision 2014 plan


The Independent School District 834 Board reported on last year’s Vision 2014 plan accomplishments and looked toward the future at its meeting Thursday.

The board highlighted three key accomplishments they had set last year. The district implemented flipped classrooms for fifth graders, which switches the traditional classroom. Teachers expect students to take in lectures outside of class and bring homework, collaboration and interaction in to the classroom.

About 170 high school students piloted “college-style” flexible schedules. The board believes this program better prepares high school students for college.

The STEM program was extended to all the district’s kindergarteners through 12th-graders starts this fall. This program has been fully funded by community partners such as 3M, the College of St. Catherine and Leading the Way. Stillwater is one of the first districts to have STEM opportunities for all students.

“(The STEM program) implementation is a truly collaborative effort between the community and the school and we’re looking forward to the benefits it will bring to students in the future,” said Ray Queener, assistant superintendent of business and administrative services.

Other accomplishments include:

Personalized learning programs for secondary students; increased parent/school communication; supports to overcome learning obstacles; bullying prohibition policy; increased support for English language learners, and budget alignment with the strategic plan by making $6.4 million in budget adjustments.

Tasks not completed due to a rejected levy include heating, ventilation and air conditioning updates at six schools and the construction of new science spaces at Stillwater Area High School and Oak-Land and Stillwater junior highs.

“Our action plan going forward is relatively ambitious,” said Carissa Keister, director of communications. “Our plan includes creating 24/7 access to learning for our students to provide them with the opportunity to continue learning at home and with their friends; personalizing instruction for our students; providing our kids with 21st century skills that they’ll need in their future jobs. Creating hands-on learning opportunities and nurturing positive relationships, because we want schools to be a place where kids want to come.”

The board hopes to engage the community in their vision. The district is organizing education conversations with people in the community to discuss what people believe the district has done right, what needs to be improved, and what their vision should be going forward.

The first Education Conversations take place on Aug. 6 and 21. The school board is looking for 50 people to sign up. Later a planning committee of 30 people half of which will be community members and the rest district representatives will figure out goals for the school district going forward. If you’re interested in participating contact Keister at: [email protected]

Other items discussed at the meeting include:

Approval of the video surveillance policy on buses, riders will be notified by signs that their actions may be videotaped and recorded and some buses will have cameras installed. The policy will go into place on 10 buses this year and another 10 next school year.

Approval of a language change to the health and safety policy.

Approval of the health and safety program budget. FY12 cost $737,900 due to Fire Marshal inspections. FY13 will cost $482,000 and FY14 will cost $474,000 respectively. Dennis Bloom, Director of operations reports that these numbers will not change.

A new language arts curriculum will be purchased for grades 6 through 12 at $272,000. Money from last year totaling $460,000 will cover the costs of the new curriculum in the K-5 grade levels. This curriculum was purchased to keep up with state requirements that will affect all Minnesota students in the 2012-2013 school year.