The St. Michael–Albertville School Board again heard from parents and teachers lobbying on behalf of a contract settlement.
The board commended student artists, approved on line learning and accepted the vote of concurrence from the American Indian Parent Advisory Committee.
Negotiations continue to agree on a teacher contract for the next two years. A group of parents and teachers were present to encourage the board to raise teacher pay and work to close the gap in salaries between STMA and nearby districts which are paying more.
Director of Administrative Services Douglas Birk reminded the board about state law concerning a board member who has a spouse affected by a collective bargaining agreement. Such a member, in this case Tim Lewis, is directed to abstain “from the ratification vote on any final agreement.” He can participate “in all other facets of the process including deliberation, setting guidance, participating in closed sessions, and voting on board members to serve on committees.”
Birk then said that when the ratification vote is taken, the board and district would need to include in the minutes the policy rationale for ratification of the agreement.
When the representatives of the board and union reach a tentative agreement, each will bring the agreement back to their respective groups for ratification.
“Ratification of the agreement by either the teachers or by the full School Board are never guaranteed,” union leader Bob Zahler later said. “At this point, it is very difficult to predict when ratification votes might happen. It still could be weeks away.”
ART STUDENT RECOGNITION
In other news, each term the art teachers in the district are asked to select a piece of student art work to display in the district offices.
Students whose art was selected for display from February to March were recognized by the board.
Chairperson Drew Scherbe, said STMA “fully embraces the arts and recognizes that a vibrant and robust arts education program is critical to a complete and balanced education for all students. Tonight we celebrate the efforts of our schools and teachers to support academic and artistic excellence in our students.” The students carried their art works to the front where they received a certificate.
Superintendent Ann-Marie Foucault thanked the students “for sharing your art work and your passion with us.” She thanked the parents for their support and for encouraging their students.
The students with art works displayed in the STMA District offices are Lucy Berube, Keira Rogers, Olivia Maatz, Madison Hutton, Estella Gula, Natalie Kelly, Lacey Fuerstenberg, Steven Kazouh, Jack Bachelor, Megan McDowell, Maisie Tietz, D’Von Berry, Hadley Johnson, and Taya Weber.
In further matters, the board approved a one year pilot program for online learning at the high school starting this spring. Foucault said, “The two main benefits are that we can control the quality and rigor of the classes and the quality of the instructors.”
State statute allows students to take classes on line and when they take them through other districts the state funding goes with them so this will keep dollars in the district.
The high school will start by offering classes in language arts and social studies in the third trimester with probable expansion next fall and winter. Students will be able to complete these classes as individuals on their own time, adding flexibility to their schedules. The materials will be developed by the high school teachers involved.
The program will be administered and supervised by Mark Jansen in addition to his position as the principal of the Knights Academy and his contract is being adjusted to reflect the added responsibility. He will coordinate with Shari Ledahl of the Teaching and Learning Department who is helping to develop the program. Adjustments are also being made to compensate the teachers involved for their extra work.
Lastly, Teri Johnson, Director of Teaching and Learning, spoke to the School Board about her work with the district’s American Indian Parent Advisory Committee (AIPAC).
Minnesota State Statutes require any district with 10 or more American Indian students to set up an advisory committee to “provide input regarding the district’s Indian Education Programming Plan (IEPP) and make recommendations for the use and management of the accompanying funds.”
The funds provided by the state are being used for outreach and student academic support. Johnson said that an increased number of parents have become involved. She invited those at the meeting to attend the Cultural Fair on Saturday, April 18, at the Community Education Center which will involve AIPAC and other cultural groups.
The local AIPAC will also be working with groups in the Anoka-Hennepin and Elk River Districts to host the second annual Two Rivers Powwow. In January they passed a resolution of concurrence informing the state that STMA is providing for their students and using the funds appropriately.