• 2021-2022
  • Regular Meeting

Official School Board Minutes

Regular Meeting of the School Board
October 5, 2021

The regular meeting of the Board of Education of Independent School District 270 was conducted in person and streamed virtually on Tuesday October 5, 2021. The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m.

School Board members present: Treasurer Steve Adams, Vice Chair Shannon Andreson, Chair Jennifer Bouchard, Director Tanya Khan, Director John Kuhl, and Clerk Katie Pederson. School Board members absent: Director Fartun Ahmed.

Student Board reps present: Imani Kerre-Mongi (12), Oscar Wolfe (11), Grace Reilly (10). Student Board reps absent: None. Staff members present: Superintendent Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed. Staff members absent: None.

Open Agenda — Public Comments on Agenda Items

Bouchard explained that Open Agenda is facilitated in two sessions, both through a designated voicemail box for recorded messages to be played at meetings as well as by comment card if attending the meeting in person.

  • Parent Jen Cameron addressed the Board urging them to pass the Resolution Concerning Fully Funding School Nutrition Programs.

Reports

Student Board Representative

Kerre-Mongi, along with new student board members Wolfe and Reilly updated the Board on plans and agenda items they plan to execute with Principal Ballard and highlighted Homecoming 2021!

Superintendent

Mhiripiri-Reed recognized our Scholar Nutrition department and their amazing work and provided details regarding flex Fridays within our secondary schools.

Approval of Agenda

Pederson moved, Adams seconded, to approve the agenda as presented. Carried.

Consent Calendar

Adams moved, Khan seconded, to approve the Consent Calendar as presented: A) Approval of Minutes — Regular Meeting Conducted on September 14, 2021; B) Human Resources — Personnel Updates; C) Proposal for out of State and/or Overnight Travel — HHS Gymnastics Team. Carried.

Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer Adams highlighted expenses of interest. Adams moved, Pederson seconded, to approve financial disbursements in the amount of $4,768,596.45 for the period of September 8, 2021 through September 27, 2021. Carried.

Policies in First Read

Policy 203.6: Consent Agendas
Policy 210: Conflict of Interest-School Board Members
Policy 250: School Board Elections
Policy 251: Appointed Board Officials
Policy 253: Board Member Compensation and Expenses
Policy 254: Board Member and Board Employees Insurance
Policy 255: School Board Legislative Program
Policy 256: School Board and Superintendent Performance Evaluation and Planning

 

The 200 policy group is in its three year approval/review cycle. Lightfoot noted a minor change to policy 203.6 and no changes to the remaining policies. Andreson moved, Adams seconded that the Board approves the above policies in First Reading; further, the Board directs the Administration to prepare the policies (with suggested revisions) for approval in Second Reading at the next meeting (as part of Consent).

Substitute Usage Report & Rate Recommendations

Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Lightfoot provided data on the historical use of substitutes in the district. He also noted the intentions of adding “PERM” substitutes that would be assigned to a building and working everyday to provide immediate assistance in the absences of teachers. Additionally, Lightfoot presented the proposed pay rate increases at an additional $10.00 per day, pointing out that through our external vendor, Teachers on Call, an additional 28.85% fee is charged.

If approved, the new rates for substitute teachers would be as follows:

  • Substitute working 0-35 days: $145 per day
  • Substitute working 36-70 days: $150 per day
  • Substitute working 71+ days: $155 per day
  • “PERM” Substitutes (subs that work every day assigned to a school building): $165 per day

Andreson moved, Pederson seconded that the Board approve the above rates for substitute teachers to address decreased absence fill rates and staffing shortages within the district and across the state.    

Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) Delegate Assembly Resolutions

Chair Bouchard and Vice Chair Andreson provided background information on three resolutions they have drafted to submit to the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) Delegate Assembly. If approved at the MSBA Delegate Assembly in December, these resolutions will become part of the MSBA Legislative Platform. These resolutions have been reviewed by the Hopkins Legislative Action Coalition.

RESOLUTION Concerning Fully Funding School Nutrition Programs

WHEREAS, In the best of times, many families struggle to gain access to quality nutrition in their communities. It is often through school meals that students enjoy food security. The Federal government has recognized this unique position of public schools to provide the necessary food security in our communities during this time of economic upheaval by continuing to renew the extension of the Summer Meals program throughout the school year since the pandemic impacted school districts across the nation in 2019.

WHEREAS, The success and necessity of this extension are reflected in the Universal School Meals Program Act (Summary) which is moving through both the US House and Senate and has support from local and national education organizations. As public education leaders, we also support this bill.

WHEREAS, It is imperative that we have a robust school nutrition program that does not rely on parents paying fees, nor parental applications for food benefits. Such a vital program to community health cannot be a fee-based program, as those programs rely solely on the economic security of residents. Eliminating fees for school meals would alleviate many of the issues we see in nutrition programs (lunch shaming, confusion navigating the system, fear/stigma associated with the application, undue paperwork, and administerial burden on districts and families) and increase access to food security across the state.

WHEREAS, We urge our partners in the US House and Senate to pass the Universal School Meals Program Act while asking the MN legislature to explore state-specific needs such as reimbursement rate and funding streams ties to School Meal Applications.

WHEREAS, Parents and school districts experience the undue burden of applications: Districts across the state have seen a reduction in our Education Benefits application. (eg. Hopkins saw a reduction of more than 10% of our ADM or 700 fewer applications than in 2019. This reduction in completed applications translates into a loss of 30 FTE’s for the district.) We urge the state legislature to sever education funding streams (i.e. Compensatory Funding, MARS, etc.) from this application and devise a new model. Several already exist - Medicaid, Community Income Index, Income Tax, etc. Amend HF-1144 to reflect the need to sever school funding from these applications and devise a new model (establishing a task force to develop a model that works for all districts) for calculating need-based funding. Here's a link to a tool that explains alternatives to meal applications for compensatory funding. Other options to applications here. You can select MN to see what we already do, or look into other state's solutions. Here's a link to other models used when a state and/or district adopts the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).

WHEREAS, School Nutrition programs are fundamental to education. The research is clear: educational outcomes - manifested as better reading and math scores, lower grade retention rates - improve significantly when students experience food stability. Very few people contest the benefits of the school nutrition program. Where we fall short is investing in this shared value.

WHEREAS, For too long we have relied on a system of meal benefits that is not working, relying on parents to fill out applications while ignoring the fact that it is the only educational benefit in our public school system that we make students pay for. This fee for meals results in a deterioration of the crucial relationship between schools and families.

WHEREAS, Fully funded school nutrition programs are a great equalizer. Even those students who “qualify” for free and reduced programs are reluctant to participate due to stigma. (In Hopkins, we saw our Universal Breakfast program grow from 10-12% participation to 45-50% participation when we shifted to breakfast in the classroom offered to all students.)

WHEREAS, Shifting our model to a fully funded one has other benefits to districts. It saves money, allowing more dollars to go to quality food because it stabilizes the budget and staffing resulting in less administerial burden within the program.

WHEREAS, In order to keep our school nutrition departments responsive and robust, we must shift our model from the uncertainty of fee-based revenue to the stability of government-funded revenue. Our families need to know that they have access to quality nutrition regardless of their current economic or application status. And our staff need to know that they can continue providing quality nutrition to the families they serve. Minnesotans need to know that their tax dollars are supporting the future health and prosperity of the state.

Therefore, BE IT RESOLVED, THAT HOPKINS SCHOOL BOARD URGES THE LEGISLATURE TO FULLY FUND PUBLIC SCHOOL NUTRITION DEPARTMENTS SO ALL MINNESOTA FAMILIES HAVE EQUITABLE ACCESS TO HEALTHY MEALS CONTRIBUTING TO OVERALL COMMUNITY HEALTH AND FOOD SECURITY.

Adams moved, Pederson seconded to approve the Resolution Concerning Fully Funding School Nutrition Programs. Those voting in favor thereof: Pederson, Kuhl, Khan, Andreson, Adams, and Bouchard. Those unable to vote: Ahmed. Those opposed: None. Carried.

RESOLUTION Concerning the Proposed State of Minnesota Constitutional Amendment to Address the Achievement Gap put forth by former Supreme Court Justice Alan Page and Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari.

WHEREAS, The proposed language would replace Art. XIII, Sec. 1 of Minnesota's constitution in its entirety, and reads:
EQUAL RIGHT TO QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION. All children have a fundamental right to a quality public education that fully prepares them with the skills necessary for participation in the economy, our democracy, and society, as measured against uniform achievement standards set forth by the state. It is a paramount duty of the state to ensure quality public schools that fulfill this fundamental right.

WHEREAS, It would replace our current amendment which has been part of our state constitution since 1857, which reads: 
UNIFORM SYSTEM OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools. The legislature shall make such provisions by taxation or otherwise as will secure a thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state.

WHEREAS, Along with MSBA, Education MN, lawmakers, and community groups, Hopkins School Board appreciates that education and the disparate impact it has on our communities is taking center stage through this conversation.

WHEREAS, As educational leaders, agree with the broader goal of this amendment to close the achievement gap. Hopkins Public Schools being  one of the first districts in the state to initiate collaborative work to address this issue through ReImagine MN.

WHEREAS, this proposed amendment to the MN State Constitution

  • Elevates our collective conversation by inserting more aspirational and current language into our constitution
  • Establishes education as a fundamental right and a paramount duty of the state
  • Initiates a state-wide conversation about the disparities inherent in our educational system, the outcomes of which are determined by a social system based on race and socio-economic status
  • Inspires us to grapple with a civil rights issue that is a moral imperative of our time
  • Has the potential to bring together all of MN around the issue of equity in education
  • Lends the weight of the constitution to the recommendations of ReImagine MN, ensuring that all districts work toward this common goal

WHEREAS, Hopkins School Board, along with other educational leaders in the state  projects the following unintended consequences that have not been adequately addressed by the authors, including:

  • Removal of taxation language removes school districts entitlement to tax dollars, thus opening up the state to wide-spread use of public dollars by private entities (vouchers) and further defunding of public schools
  • Other states that have made this change - Florida, Louisiana, and Washington - show alarming trends in new laws that privatize education, schools receiving public funds that select which families they will serve, and defunding of the public schools that do serve all families, generating a system of haves and have-nots that perhaps the “uniform” language in our constitutional safeguards against
  • Inserting the “Standards of Measurement” language into the constitution codifies testing as teaching and removes the ability of schools to innovate and meet the unique needs of their communities
  • Replacing “general and uniform” with “quality” may be replacing vague language with more of the same, thus forcing the courts to interpret. Case law has been established in MN around “general and uniform.” The new language would reset the case law thus miring school districts in costly and lengthy legal proceedings

WHEREAS, The Hopkins School Board believes that Minnesota’s public schools need to change. The state cannot continue to fail large groups of our students. That is why we take this proposed amendment and the conversation it inspires seriously. We look forward to the work to refine this amendment and reinvest in ReImagine MN to ensure that public education is a “paramount duty” of this state and that all families experience a quality educational experience.

Therefore, BE IT RESOLVED: Hopkins School Board does not support the proposed state Constitutional Amendment in its current form while maintaining our commitment to a world-class educational experience for all.

Kuhl moved, Adams seconded to approve the Resolution Concerning the Proposed State of Minnesota Constitutional Amendment. Those voting in favor thereof: Pederson, Kuhl, Khan, Andreson, Adams, and Bouchard. Those unable to vote: Ahmed. Those opposed: None. Carried.
 

RESOLUTION for Targeted Funding to Districts in Order to Increase Compensation for Education Support Professionals

For the purposes of this resolution, Education Support Professionals are defined according to the National Education Association as clerical services, custodial and maintenance services, food services, health and student services, paraprofessionals, security services, skilled trades, technical services, and transportation services. 

WHEREAS, Education Support Professionals are currently amongst the lowest compensated employees in school districts in Minnesota; they are also disproportionately BIPOC. 

WHEREAS, districts throughout the state are currently experiencing a severe shortage of Education Support Professionals.

WHEREAS, we need a long-term solution to staffing shortages and race-based inequities when it comes to our valued Education Support Professionals. 

WHEREAS, Education Support Professional staffing shortages existed before the pandemic, and have been exacerbated by the socioeconomic conditions surrounding Covid-19. 

WHEREAS, increasing compensation for these positions would make it easier for school districts to recruit and retain talented, student-centered employees. 

WHEREAS, it is currently difficult for some public school districts in Minnesota to increase pay for their Education Support Professionals because state funding for public education has not kept pace with inflation. 

WHEREAS, continued low wages for Education Support Professionals are exacerbating the racial wealth gap. 

WHEREAS, Minnesota has one of the worst racial wealth gaps in the nation.

WHEREAS, increasing compensation for Education Support Professionals is one concrete step the MN Legislature can take to address the racial wealth gap within the context of public education.

BE IT RESOLVED, THE HOPKINS SCHOOL BOARD URGES THE LEGISLATURE TO: Provide targeted funding to districts in order to increase compensation for Education Support Professionals to at least $20 per hour. A proposed approach is for the Legislature to create a need-based grant program for districts that are willing to strategically implement a $20 minimum wage for Education Support Professionals.

Khan moved, Kuhl seconded to approve the Resolution for Targeted Funding to Districts in Order to Increase Compensation for Education Support Professionals. Those voting in favor thereof: Pederson, Kuhl, Khan, Adams, and Bouchard. Those unable to vote: Ahmed & Andreson. Those opposed: None. Carried.

Bouchard shared that the approved resolutions will be presented at the MSBA Delegate Assembly in December 2021 with Hopkins full support.
 

Board Member Reports

Board members reported on recent educational activities/events in which they have participated.

Public Comment Items — Not on Agenda

Bouchard noted that no public comments were presented.

Kuhl moved, Pederson seconded, to adjourn the meeting at 8:37 p.m. Carried.

 

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Katie Pederson, School Board Clerk