We must maintain rigorous academic standards within our Saint Anthony - New Brighton schools. First, we must ensure that we regain any negative effect resulting from the Covid pandemic. Second, we must make meaningful gains in closing academic gaps in math and reading. These are difficult challenges and tremendous opportunities for meaningful equity for all students. For example, one very significant academic advancement is the hiring of a district Literacy Coordinator and training of multiple staff in LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling). Our district is well positioned to excel in our MCA reading proficiency scores in the year(s) to come. For additional information on literacy changes in Minnesota read about the READ ACT here. Every student has the right to a high quality education from our youngest learners in pre-K through to our graduating seniors.
While I am proud of the work our district has done to maintain a solid financial standing through the years, I remain concerned about the future. How our district allocates money represents what it values. Our money should be spent with the best interest of student education in mind with the focus of spending on the direct instructional needs of our students. In the fiscal year 22/23 budget, we spent 70% of our General Fund money on Elementary, Secondary and Special Educational direct instruction. In other words, paying our teaching staff. A total of 90% of our General Fund went towards the salary and benefits of all our staff. In our district, we value our staff. Our board and financial leadership have crafted a financial plan for the future which emphasizes our needs in curriculum and technology, infrastructure and accessibility, and the hiring and retaining of teachers and staff which reflect our students and community. For example, we must enhance funding teacher professional development to meet the high expectations we place on them in order for our students to meet the high expectations of success. Reference link: 22/23 Truth in Taxation
School safety involves physical safety and cybersecurity as well as mental wellbeing. With respect to physical safety, I will continue to work with our district administration to ensure we have the financial and human resources necessary for our district. Our district utilizes Crisis Prevention Intervention training for our staff and teachers. For cybersecurity, we must continue to engage in best practices regarding our digital learning environment, network security and the handling of sensitive student and staff data. Our Policy Committee in partnership with district administration developed and adopted our Technology Acceptable Use and Safety policy in 2022. Preparation, training and risk management regarding our district security and safety will remain a high priority.
Mental Health: Belonging and Inclusion
Mental health is a broad area of concern which includes students and staff with such diverse issues as bullying and staff burnout. In our district, we have spent considerable time and energy working on ensuring that our students feel that they are welcome and that they belong in our schools. We need to continue to work towards ensuring that all students see themselves represented and reflected in our athletics and activities, arts and theater, history, physical spaces in which they learn, and in the teachers and staff that surround them. We must embrace the diversity of our students and staff to allow them to truly feel that they belong in Saint Anthony Village. Additionally, I will promote policies to support mental health initiatives, working with our Wellness Coordinator, and examining focus group feedback for further insights into needed mental health support. Throughout the past several years, our staff have continued to show up and perform at very high levels for the benefit of our students and it is necessary to encourage the well-being of our staff and maintain a culture of dignity and respect.