Over the last decade and throughout both ISD 728 and its various cities and townships, we have welcomed thousands of new families, provided comprehensive programming for learners of all ages, personalized learning through technology, and helped children to continually engage in experiences that benefited local and global communities. We have educated, inspired and empowered our learners to accomplish their dreams and contribute positively to the world. Despite these many accomplishments, we believe that 2020 will be the start of something even more magical.
As a result of a comprehensive community-developed strategic plan and additional support for learning and facilities, the ISD 728 school district and community will continue to be THE place to learn, live, and work. We are grateful for the community’s support and will work tirelessly to fulfill the promises made throughout the referendum campaign. Here are a few things to look forward to and to expect in the near future:
Teaching and learning
In 2019 and out of Minnesota’s 10 largest school districts based on enrollment, ISD 728 students ranked first in Mathematics, first in Reading, and second in Science on state exams. Our hard-working staff, engaged community, and successful collaboration with parents and families make this impressive student achievement possible year after year. This continued success and solid academic foundation will allow the school district to plan for and expand opportunities in career readiness, providing students with the academic, technical skills, knowledge and training necessary to succeed in future careers related to the Arts, Communications and Information Systems; Business, Management and Administration; Engineering, Manufacturing and Technology; Health Science Technology; and Human Services. These opportunities are expected to include such things as increased student apprenticeships, expanded partnerships with local businesses, and additional job certification and post secondary credit completion initiatives.
The recent and successful referendum will provide funding for seven building projects, which include:
•Construction of a new middle school in Otsego
•Renovations at Lincoln Elementary School
•Renovations at VandenBerge Middle School
•Renovations at Handke Family Center
•Additions and renovations of activity spaces at Zimmerman Middle/High School
•Additions and renovations of activity spaces at Elk River High School
•Additions and renovations of activity spaces at Rogers High School
Each of the seven projects are expected to be completed by January of 2025, and thus, discussions and planning have already begun. It is the District’s intent to include building and District staff, as well as community members, in the building process from initial design to project completion.
Because the successful referendum will provide funds to complete each of the seven projects listed above, Long Term Facilities Maintenance funds will now be utilized to complete projects identified on the building specific project list documents, which were communicated throughout the campaign and are currently available on the ISD 728 website. These projects are expected to be completed throughout the next 10 years, and will be scheduled as they make sense from a fiscal, project management, and workforce availability standpoint.
I am proud to serve ISD 728 as Superintendent, and am both grateful for and humbled by the School Board’s continued support and trust to lead this outstanding organization. While school district leadership will remain constant, School Board elections will take place in November. Three current school board members will have the opportunity to participate in the election process once again as their terms will expire. All three Board members have expressed a willingness and desire to serve again. School board elections will be important and will have a significant impact on what happens within the school district, as board members are responsible for effectively and efficiently governing ISD 728.
While there are many ways to measure success and stability, increasing enrollment is one of the most important! ISD 728 grew by nearly 300 students this year, and expects to continue to grow in the foreseeable future. After discussions with city officials and a state demographer, it appears as though increased building permits, younger families moving to the area, quality schools, and expanding businesses all contribute to continued growth. This growth is expected to provide additional jobs, expand the tax base, and increase opportunities for children within our schools. It will also result in an additional school being built, updated learning spaces throughout the District, and more equity amongst the northern, central, and southern region in terms of facilities, all of which were identified as priorities from community members.
Thank you for being part of ISD 728, Minnesota’s eighth largest school district. Because of you, our children will continue to excel, be prepared, and contribute positively both locally and throughout the world. — Superintendent Dr. Daniel Bittman