• The mission of Columbia Heights Public Schools is to create worlds of opportunity for every learner in partnership with supportive
    small-town communities by challenging all to discover their talents, to unleash their potential and to develop tools for lifelong success.

    Sept. 10, 2013 Regular Meeting

    School Board Reports:

    • Director Ted Landwehr attended the Highland Elementary School tour, attended the 2013-2014 Convocation and all-staff welcome back picnic, attended the Columbia Heights Business Council Meeting, attended several girls tennis matches and also attended the second Columbia Heights High School (CHHS) football game.

    • Vice-Chair John Larkin volunteered as a cook at the picnic, attended junior varsity and varsity football games, attended the CHHS parent meeting, Columbia Academy open house and also took in the Highland Elementary School tour.

    • Director Missy Lee attended a West Metro Education Program (WMEP) Board meeting, attended the Convocation, attended the welcome back picnic, attended several varsity/junior varsity football games (asked for support of the teams) and participated in several meetings with community members.  She also has an upcoming WMEP Board meeting.

    • Director Laura Palmer attended the Convocation and picnic, attended the District 916 School Board meeting in Fridley (new Metro Heights location) and shared that this will be a shared ALC program, that it can be expanded up to 150 students, but currently only CHPS students attend.  Director Palmer also said a member of that Board they submitted a Letter of Intent for the purchase of land for another potential ALC program.  Lastly, that Board also approved teacher contracts.

    • Chair Scott Bardell reported that he attended an Association of Metropolitan School Districts (AMSD) meeting in which three state elected officials were recognized by that association with the Friends of Public Education awards. He said the Early Childhood Learning Conference will be held Nov. 13 with a presentation provided by Columbia Heights speaker (to be identified).  Chair Bardell also shared information from Dr. Bill Morris, an educational pollster, relating to the overall state of the State of Minnesota, including several results related to the greater public education.

    • Director Lori Meyer attended the Highland Elementary School tour and that she met with several community members for conversations.

    Superintendent's Report:

    • Shared that the 2013-2014 school year got off to an excellent start with the all-staff Convocation and picnic; the Superintendent extended her appreciation to everyone who made the events possible.

    • Attended, with Director of Student Services Nicole Halabi, the grand opening and ribbon-cutting of the Northeast Metro 916 Area Learning Center (Sept. 3)  The superintendent said she and Director Halabi met with CHPS students who for this year are the only students (next year the program extends to another district)

    • Announced that CHPS K-12 students began the start of school Sept. 3.  She thanked the five principals for a great start to the school year.

    • Thanked Director Bill Holmgren for the success of how well the new bus contract and services is working.

    • Attended, with Highland Elementary School Principal Michele DeWitt and Director of Community Education Kristin Stuenkel, a policy seminar entitled "Early Learning - Raising Third Grade Reading Proficiency."  The policy forum was sponsored by the National Governor's Conference and the Minnesota Department of Education.

    • Attended, with Chair Bardell, an Association of Metropolitan School Districts (AMSD) Board of Directors meeting.

    • Shared that negotiations with Local 710 Teachers Union continue, with the most current discussions held earlier that day.

    • Announced that Susan Yahr, a CHHS Special Education teacher, passed away with her funeral held the first day of school.  Ms. Yahr, who the Superintendent described as a "great advocate for students and a treasured colleague, had been with CHPS from 2002 to 2013.  Superintendent Kelly asked for a moment of silence in honor of Ms. Yahr.

    Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting Award: Director of Finance and Operations Bill Holmgren reported that the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) selected Columbia Heights Public Schools for its sixth consecutive Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting award. The award is the highest recognition for school district financial operations and is only conferred to school systems that have met or exceeded the stringent standards of the ASBO program. The district’s Finance Department, led by Mr. Holmgren, was selected for its excellence in the preparation and issuance of the Fiscal Year 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The CAFR states the financial position of the school system through financial statements and statistical information. The CAFR not only gives the summary and detailed information for the school year being reported, but also includes information for the previous ten years.  

    Enrollment Surveys: Nicole Halabi, Director of Student Services, Rick Hamman, Research and Development Coordinator, AnnMarie Johnson, Student Services Coordinator and Don Lifto of Springstead, Inc, presented their findings on two surveys related to enrollment. Don Lifto summarized the overall purpose of the Parent Enrollment Survey was to explore the influences on why parents chose to enroll in or out of CHPS, what were their influences in their decision-making and how did they prefer their communications.  Director Halabi gave an overview of the Parent Outreach Initiative Survey.  The purpose of the survey, of parents who live in the district, but whose children are not enrolled in district schools, was to understand the reason residents chose to open enroll their children elsewhere.  Superintendent Kelly said the results of both surveys will now be analyzed to determine next steps.  

    Youth Services Program Grant: Nicole Halabi, Director of Student Services, provided the School Board with information on a Youth Service Grant awarded to Columbia Heights Public Schools, the Alexandra House (a shelter for battered women) and another school district.  The grant was made possible because the legislature was able to provide additional funding (Crime Victim's Funding for Unmet Needs) for the five-year grant. CHPS will share a secondary level half-time Youth Services Advocate who will serve at the Columbia Academy and Columbia Heights High School. The advocate will work with students who have been victims or at risk for being victims of violence and the grant also provides funds for staff development and curriculum.

    Back to School building updates: Principals Michele Dewitt (Highland), Willie Fort (Valley View), Jeff Cacek (North Park), Interim Principal Dan Wrobleski (Columbia Heights) and Assistant Principal Rick Ostby (Columbia Heights) shared summaries of their school year. 

    • Principal Jeff Cacek (North Park Elementary School) said his school has three initiatives this year, (1) Project Based Learning 101, starting across all grade levels this month, (2) the integration of the new third-grade Learning Studio, and (3) the institution of Play Works, a structured play replacing recess.

    • Principal Willie Fort (Valley View Elementary School) said this was the smoothest opening in his four years in CHPS.  The school's enrollment is up approximately 50 students.  He shared that the new uniform initiative is very positively received by parents and that he already sees it as an asset for his school programming. Mr. Fort noted that the AVID (college preparedness) program, beginning at the third-grade and set to expand to fourth and fifth grade in coming years, with the intent of connecting to the middle school, has started successfully.

    • Principal Michelle DeWitt (Highland Elementary School) said the year is off to an excellent start, the best start in her six years.  She complemented the new busing company for its efficiency and professionalism in transporting students the first week.  She noted the school has 522 students, approximately 30 more students than last year.  This is the beginning year for a pilot starting in kindergarten and first grade with students receiving content enriched Spanish instruction.  Ms. Dewitt added that the school has three new teachers, who student taught last year as part of a cooperative program with the University of Minnesota, all of whom all are fully trained and are under the tutelage of a HES teacher.

    • Interim Principal Dan Wrobleski (Columbia Heights High School) said the year was off to a great start.  He shared a video that included the following initiatives for this year, including (1) Ramp Up to Readiness program that prepares students for post-secondary options, (2) Special Learning Communities where teachers collaborate on data to change the culture, climate and improve student achievement,(3) Check and Connect program that engages students in the classroom and provides mentoring and tutoring, (4) College Possible program that focuses on juniors and seniors, including college visits and ACT and scholarship preparation, (5) AVID college preparation program, (6) Journalism 2 initiative aligned to the school newspaper and the development of new broadcasts and (7) the creation of the TV production class.

    • Assistant Principal Rick Ostby (Columbia Academy), on behalf of Principal Mary Bussman, also said the school year is off to a wonderful start.  In August a sixth-grade web orientation had approximately 85 students, followed by a sixth-grade open house orientation that attracted several hundred families.  Mr. Ostby shared a marketing piece that highlights the Personalized Learning Initiative.  He noted that enrollment was at 687 students (their goal was 700 students).  This year sixth grade students will receive iPads and use these in class and home.

    Preliminary Levy: Director of Finance and Operations Bill Holmgren provided preliminary information on the 2014 Levy.  Mr. Holmgren shared that the initial results are positive, to include enrollment continuing to increase with a projection of 3,094 students, or a 1.5 percent increase.  He noted that while the numbers are yet to be official, he anticipates the Levy Certification will decrease.

    Constitution Week: After a presentation from Director of Teaching and Learning Duane Berkas, the School Board approved a resolution state Columbia Heights Public Schools will celebrate the week of Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week.  

    Board Policy - Second Readings:  Chair Scott Bardell presented on the second readings of the following:

    703 - Annual Audit
    707 - Transportation of Public School Students
    709 - Student Transportation Safety Policy
    711 - Video Recording on School Buses
    712 - Video Surveillance Other Than on Buses
    802 - Disposition of Obsolete Equipment and Material
    902 - Use of School Facilities and Equipment

    School Board Evaluation: After discussion, the School Board agreed to add two more questions (for a total of 12) to the evaluation model that was presented at the Aug. 28, 2013 Regular Meeting.

    MSBA Delegate Voting: The School Board voted for the Minnesota School Board Association Delegate Assembly.

    Key Dates:

    • Sept. 17, 5:30 p.m., School Board Work Session, Valley View Elementary School Media Center
    • Sept. 24, 7 p.m., School Board Regular Meeting, Community Room
    • Oct. 8, 5 p.m., Sub-Committee on Policy, Superintendent's Conference Room
    • Oct. 8, 7 p.m., School Board Regular Meeting, Community Room

    This is an unofficial summary of Columbia Heights Public Schools' School Board Business Meetings. The official record of School Board meetings are the Minutes, which can be read, after approval, via the School Board Home Page. The School Board Report is published by the Communications Department normally within three work days after a Business Meeting. For additional information, please use this website or call Board Secretary Dawn Hoium at 763-528-4504 or by e-mail at hoiumd@colheights.k12.mn.us.  To unsubscribe, please click here.