ISD 728 is proud to continue to be an educational partner and leader for nearly 14,000 students and their families throughout our Elk River, Zimmerman, Rogers, Otsego and surrounding communities. Together, we have partnered to ensure our children are well fed, cared for, and have access to amazing educational opportunities and facilities throughout ISD 728. In addition to the day-to-day happenings involved with school and 2022, we will:

•Increase opportunities for students to gain career and college readiness skills.

•Enhance collaboration with local businesses, city, and county partners in the areas of athletics/activities, facilities, programming, and strategic planning.

•Provide additional learning opportunities for students who prefer to learn in person, online or in a system that provides a combination of both (i.e. blended learning). This will include expanding the program for students in all grade levels, Kindergarten through Grade 12.

•Increase mental health support for our students and families to ensure each and every school building has dedicated personnel.

•Fulfill promises made related to construction and maintenance of school buildings (i.e. learning space renovations, parking lots, heating/cooling, new school in Otsego, stadiums, etc.).

•Continue to partner with the Department of Health and Department of Education on all pandemic-related events.

•Demonstrate leadership throughout our communities by facilitating conversations, increasing awareness, and identifying ways to best support ALL students regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

•Work to ensure no child goes hungry or worries about having a safe place to sleep.

•Communicate and remain transparent with everything we do.

•Increase efforts to attract quality candidates and retain employees in all positions throughout the school district.

•Increase student voice when making decisions related to ISD 728.

•Prioritize relationships and stay true to our core values, mission and vision statements.

•Work tirelessly to keep students and staff supported, onsite, and engaged.

This is the third school year impacted by the pandemic. We have learned so much, and continue to modify and adjust practices on a daily basis to support our students, families and staff. While we pride ourselves on being proactive, having a dynamic strategic plan, and working collaboratively with our stakeholders, we expect to continue to struggle with labor shortages, the pandemic, and both rumors and inaccurate information on social media. We also anticipate that the needs of our students will become even more intense.

In 2022 and beyond, we will continue to learn with and from others, work diligently to bring people together, even when they disagree, serve as a place where all students and families feel welcomed, and commit to sorting through the distractors so we can focus our energy on doing good things for our students, families and communities. We remain grateful for each other, having a committed school board willing to lead and set an example for others to follow, staff and administration that go above and beyond at all hours of the day, and for the wonderful things happening in each and every ISD 728 school and program. We serve all people, regardless of age, need, or situation and we remain committed to doing it well!

We are hopeful that within the next year the pandemic will become more manageable, and that all people will commit to kindness, seek to understand before responding, and that we can all continue to look for ways to meaningfully partner for the good of all.

ISD 728 remains a fabulous place to learn and work, and I am extremely grateful to serve in this role with each and every one of you. I know these last few years have not been easy for anyone, but recognize that we will use the lessons we have learned and relationships we have built to ensure a bright future for all.

Thank you for being part of ISD 728, and for all that you do to make our world a better place. — Superintendent Dan Bittman, Elk River Area School District

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