Instruction and Curriculum Advisory Committee
Oct. 13, 2016, Meeting Minutes
Karen Jacowitz, Julie Wellnitz, Chizuko Shastri, Sadie Anderson, Rachel Hohn, Bill Tomhave, Carol Ladwig, Cindy Fagerlie, Rebecca Guest, Josh Haag, Missy Eidsness, John Wirries and Pam Gibb.
Guest: Dr. Lynne Kovash, superintendent.
1. Approval of Sept. 15, 2016, MinutesCindy Fagerlie moved, Bill Tomhave seconded, to approve the minutes. Motion carried.
2. District Operating Levy Overview
Superintendent Lynne Kovash shared information about the district’s Nov. 8 operating levy renewal with the committee. She shared community survey results from 2015, which indicated:
- 90 percent said the quality of education in Moorhead is good or excellent;
- 71 percent said the district spends effectively/efficiently;
- 84 percent said the district had good community involvement;
- 71 percent agreed the district uses a tax increase as a last resort;
- 89 percent said the district provides a good value for the investment; and
- 87 percent said the district demonstrates accountability.
Kovash explained the district’s funding comes from property taxes and from the state. Since 2004-05, the general education formula has not kept pace with inflation. For 2015-16 and 2016-17, the legislature approved an increase of 2% per year. Per-pupil allowance for 2016-17 would need to increase by another $626 (10.3%) to have kept pace with inflation. Options are to increase revenue or cut budgets; most districts do both.
Kovash expressed thanks for the community’s support of last year’s bond referendum. She told the committee that an easy way to remember the difference is that bonds are for buildings and a levy is for learning. The renewal of the $223.66 per pupil operating levy maintains current funding. The average-priced home of $175,000 in the district would not see a tax increase with renewal of the operating levy. Operating levies are no longer for extras. 99% of Minnesota school districts use operating levy funding.Statewide the average operating levy authority is $1,187 per pupil. Moorhead Area Public Schools is below state average at $947.66 per pupil — of which $223.66 is voter approved and up for renewal and $724 is board approved.
Revenue from renewal of the operating levy would address five priority areas identified by the school board.
- Support learning and operate our new and existing schools for our growing student enrollment.
- Maintain average class sizes.
- Provide a source of stable and predictable revenue to avoid reductions.
- Maintain and replace technology equipment.
- Maintain access to education programs including world languages and early childhood.
Although the voter-approved operating levy is scheduled to expire after the 2017-18 school year, the school board voted to call the special election this year to place the operating levy renewal question on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. If the district holds a special election in an odd year (non-general election year), the district would have to pay the cost of running the election.
Kovash explained that the operating levy renewal extends current funding. The school district has more students and is adding facilities, but the board is not seeking to increase funding – just to maintain the existing funding. Opportunities to learn more about the district were shared, including the upcoming Coffee with the Mayor and Superintendent session, the Oct. 27 State of the District, and the district’s website and social media channels.
3. Draft of Annual Report and School Profiles
Missy Eidsness, assistant superintendent of learning and accountability, reviewed the updated Annual Report/School Profiles document with committee members. The revised draft includes the BrightBytes Clarity data, which includes digital citizenship and use of 4C’s (communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking). Julie Wellnitz, program manager for media services, said the district will pilot Common Sense Media’s eight elements of digital citizenship this year at Horizon, which has the one-to-one technology environment.
4. Overview of Furniture Pilot
Missy Eidsness provided an overview of this year’s furniture pilot. With the building renovations, the K-8 buildings will all have shared learning spaces. Eidsness said the district is seeking durable furniture that allows collaboration. Several vendors are being used for the pilots. Eidsness said they are looking at tall tables or adjustable tables as there is a need to find ways for people to stand, wobbly chairs allow for a little movement, all chairs can’t have arms as there are different sizes of students and some might not be comfortable on a chair with arms, and that color makes a difference.
This year three houses at Horizon are piloting the new furniture. Previously the houses tended to use the leftover or extra furniture in their shared learning space. At the high school, one classroom is trying a desk/chair on wheels. The teacher didn’t like it at first, but now likes it as students can easily move into groups. Eidsness noted that they have found some students do better in fixed chairs. Several elementary classrooms were picked to pilot furniture. At Robert Asp Elementary, three classrooms (grade 1, grade 4 and grade 5) are piloting a variety of tables and chairs. Ellen Hopkins Elementary has two classrooms (grade 1 and grade 3) with furniture that arrived this week. S.G. Reinertsen Elementary has two classrooms with furniture from a different vendor.
District administrators will be at the elementary conferences with a few pieces of furniture from the pilot. A recommendation needs to be made by March, but there is much evaluating that needs to be done before decisions are made, Eidsness said.5. Curriculum Cycle for 2016-17
Missy Eidsness reviewed the curriculum cycle with the committee. Almost all of the elementary teachers attended summer training related to the new mathematics curriculum. This year the secondary mathematics departments will review what they have for curriculum. The past two years Math Solutions has coached the secondary math teachers. Teachers are reflecting on how to create thinkers. Eidsness will work with department chairs on a rubric for judging materials. She noted there aren’t a lot of choices for materials at the high school level. There was discussion of online books vs. paper books, weight of textbooks, use of interactive books, and need for differentiation.
There was a question about coordinating surveys for parents. Eidsness explained that on Oct. 31 an AdvancED parent meeting will be held for the external review team to speak with parents.