Sept. 13, 2016 School Board Report

  • In Memoriam

    Rich Lokum Director of Community Education Kristen Stuenkel read a memoriam regarding the passing of former Adult Enrichment Education Manager Rich Loken. Mr. Loken, who passed away Aug. 15, 2016 after a four-year battle with cancer, served in Columbia Heights Public Schools from summer 2011 until the fall of 2015 when he resigned to focus on his cancer treatments.

    In his resignation letter Mr. Loken wrote, “I would like to let you know that I have worked in seven school districts as an employee and during past internships. In my almost 35 years of service, no other assemblage of staff has made me feel more welcomed and included as part of a team than here with Columbia Heights Schools. I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to contribute to this innovative and progressive district.”

    Rich Loken is survived by his wife Janice, daughter, Mary and son James. Mr. Loken will be greatly missed in Columbia Heights Public Schools.

    Reports from Members of the Board

    School Board at Convocation Chair John Larkin attended Convocation and the staff picnic and the Scaling the Heights events. He attended the Chamber of Commerce breakfast, an Association of Metropolitan School District meeting, the City of Hilltop Council meeting, the Sub-Committee on Policy and School Board Chair meetings. Larkin also attended the City of Peace Awards Banquet, the Columbia Heights High School open house and a varsity football game.

    Vice Chair Laura Palmer attended Convocation, the Highland Elementary and Columbia Heights High School open houses, participated in the Sub-Committee on Policy and the School Board Chair meetings.

    Treasurer Molly Lewis attended the new teacher breakfast, Convocation and staff picnic. She also attended the Highland Elementary School, Columbia Academy and Columbia Heights High School open houses. Lewis also attended varsity and 7th- and 8th-grade football games.

    School Board directors at staff picnic Clerk Ted Landwehr attended the new teacher breakfast, the Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Convocation and the staff picnic.

    Director Naty Severson participated in Scaling the Heights events and attended the Chamber of Commerce breakfast She also attended the Convocation and staff picnic, the Columbia Academy open house, two varsity football games and two junior varsity football games. Severson also participated in the Sub-Committee on Policy and met with constituents.

    Director Hala Asamarai was not in attendance.

    Superintendent's Report

    Superintendent KathLt. Governor visit to Valley View y Kelly shared that the District had a successful start for the 2016-2017 school year. She reported that Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith (pictured left with Principal Willie Fort and Superintendent Kathy Kelly) visited Valley View Elementary School Tuesday, Sept. 6 to congratulate students on completing their first day of school. Ms. Smith also visited a kindergarten classroom and Pre-K 4 classrooms, including the full-day Pre-K 4 pilot program, in the “Early Childhood Incubator” at the school.
    Keith Roberts
    Superintendent Kelly said the 2016 Superintendent’s Above and Beyond Award recipient is former School Board member Keith Roberts (pictured right). He was the 10th recipient, and the first School Board member, to receive the award, which was accepted posthumously by his wife Louise.

    The Superintendent, Chair Larkin and Director of Teaching and Learning Zena Stenvik attended an AMSD Board of Directors meeting. She also made a surprise visit to Columbia Academy to join with staff from that school to recognize Principal and Employee of the Year Duane Berkas. 

    Superintendent Kelly reported that planning continues for the Medal of Honor recognitions and curriculum initiatives. She also attended the City of Peace Awards and had multiple interactions with School Board directors. 

    Lastly, she announced the new District and school websites and the new TheSuptColHeights Instagram site.  

    Reports and Information Items

    Opening of School Building Updates

    Teacher and students

    Principals Dan Wrobleski (CHHS), Duane Berkas (CA), Willie Fort (VV), Michele DeWitt (HL) and Jeff Cacek (NP) and Director of Community Education Kristen Stuenkel (Early Childhood) provided an update of the beginning of the school year.

    Early Childhood: Director Stuenkel reported that the District programming has expanded its partnership with Columbia Heights Library, that PreK-3 continues and that the new free PreK-4 programming has started.

    Highland Elementary School: Principal DeWitt said that the school is expanding AVID (Advanced Via Individual Determination) and the Personalized Learning Initiative (PLI). The school has also increased PreK-4 programming with the a.m. class filled. She also reported that the school is partnering with Anoka County through a grant to make Highland a Trauma Informed School. Lastly, she reported that the Healthy School Initiative is expanding.

    First day of school North Park Elementary School: Principal Cacek reported that the school has two full PreK-3 classes with a waiting list, that the AVID program is starting with fifth grade and on a second grade pilot program.

    Valley View Elementary School: Principal Fort shared that he is extremely pleased with the new parking, entrance, exits, signage and sod. He thanked Lt. Gov Smith for visiting the school Sept. 6. Additionally, the school is implementing all-day free four-year-old programming and that the Media Arts programming is expanding.

    Columbia Academy: Principal Berkas shared the first week for the middle school was successful. He discussed that AVID is an important part of the curriculum. This week, he said students are currently working on digital citizenship. He noted sixth-grade students are now working on Chromebooks, as part of their 21st century skills they will need. Principal Berkas also shared the school has three key messages (1) everyone belongs at Columbia Academy, (b) students need to not only pay attention to academics, but also the school's core values of respect, integrity, strength, excellence, understanding and pride (RISE UP) and (3) effort is the key to learning.

    Columbia Heights High School: Principal Wrobleski shared his pride in staff and that the school is working on PLI one-to-one focus on digital citizenships, AVID critical reading strategy and thanked the School Board for its support of the College Readiness Seminar for freshmen and sophomores. Additionally, Principal Wrobleski reported the school is seeing increased enrollment in Pre-AP and AP classes. Lastly, he emphasized the school will continue to focus on its Keep it Real cultural expectations. 

    Watch our Back-to-School video

    Pay 2017 Preliminary Levy

    Director of Finance and Operations Bill Holmgren informed the School Board that action must be taken on the Pay 2017 Preliminary Levy by Oct. 1 so Anoka County can estimate property owner’s property taxes. He added and clarified that possible changes could take place before December.  View the 2017 Preliminary Pay Levy presentation presentation.

    Action Items

    Employee Handbook

    Approved by the School Board. This was an informational item presented at the Aug. 23 School Board Business Meeting. 

    Constitution Week Resolution

    The School Board adopted a resolution stating Columbia Heights ISD #13 will celebrate the week of Sept. 17 through 23 as Constitution Week. Each year Columbia Heights Public Schools engage in activities that promote appreciation of the Constitution as the founding document for our democracy. This year, teachers will again build lessons that deepen our students’ knowledge and understanding of the content of the Constitution and its protection of our rights as citizens of the United States.

    Joint Powers Agreement for North Suburban Summer Academy

    Approved by the School Board. This was an informational item presented at the Aug. 23 School Board Business Meeting. 

    National School Boards Association Annual Conference

    The School Board approved two School Board members to attend the annual NSBA Conference in Denver, CO.

    Northeast Metro 916 Itinerant Service Agreement

    Approved by the School Board.

    Upcoming Key Dates

    5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20 - School Board Listening Session, District Center
    5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20 - School Board Work Session, Community Room
    7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27 -  Regular School Board Meeting, Community Room
    5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11 - School Board Sub-Committee on Policy, Superintendent's Conference Room
    7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11 - School Board Regular Board Meeting, Community Room 


School Board Committee Assignments