Board files and notes

Monday Night’s Meeting of the Farmington Area School Board public comment is scheduled for 5:20pm with the business meeting slated for a 5:30pm start at Farmington City Hall. There will be a closed session immediately following the regular meeting to discuss employee negotiations.

We will hear a report from administration on the Achievement and Integration (A&I) Plan. What is an A&I? Recently, ISD 192 qualified for additional Achievement and Integration revenue based on being designated as a racially isolated district. Based on school year 2022-23 fall enrollment data, Farmington is considered a racially isolated district under Minnesota’s School Desegregation/Integration rules. A racially isolated school district is one in which district-wide enrollment of protected students is more than 20 percentage points higher than enrollment in any one of its adjoining school districts. (I think we meet this comparatively with Hastings.) For the purposes of the Achievement and Integration program, protected students are defined as African/Black Americans, Asian/Pacific Americans, Chicano/Latino Americans, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and multiracial.

ISD 192 is eligible to submit a three-year A&I plan and annual budget to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) by June 15, 2023 for review and approval. This plan must first be approved by the school board. I have a lot of questions about this plan and I want to ensure that we are steering funds to our learners and direct instructional time, not to increase bureaucracy and racism or pay consultants.

An A&I plan is an additional component to the World's Best Workforce. It appears we will receive approximately $730,000/year for implementation. These funds cannot go to supplement current expenditures; they can only be used to expand current programs or create new opportunities.

Overall, the plan must include three goals, one in each of these areas:

  1. Increase racial and economic integration
  2. Reduce disparities in achievement
  3. Increase access for all students to qualified, diverse teachers.

To accomplish our goals, we will have strategies that may fall into one or more of these categories. 

  • Integrated Learning Environments
  • Family Engagement Initiatives
  • Rigorous Coursework and Career and College Readiness
  • Professional Development (think training teachers)
  • Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Staff
  • Equitable Access to Effective and Diverse Teachers 

Achievement and Integration strategies should allow participation of ALL students. Strategies can target participation of specific learner groups, but must allow and encourage participation from learners in all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

When we consider learning gaps, here's another perspective offered by a past Integration Revenue Replacement Advisory Task Force member (Minority Report of Katherine Kersten, February 13, 2012):

…The learning gap springs from socioeconomic and family risk factors that leave many poor, minority youngsters deficient in the skills and knowledge required for academic success. These children need multi-faceted, classroom-centered educational reform to learn more effectively. They need an intense emphasis on fundamentals; targeted assessment and intervention; and a school climate that emphasizes order, discipline, high expectations, accountability and incentives for success.

My goal would be that funds that are secured for A&I in ISD 192 emphasize fundamentals, assessment and intervention. From our ISD192 Proposal Presentation, I have questions and comments.

“Equity Criteria: Access, Participation, Representation, Outcomes” 

I agree that we can assure everyone has same access. How can we control their participation? Does equitable representation mean that staff race/socioeconomic status has to reflect our student population? If so, how do we ensure we have the strongest candidate for each position? Lastly, I don’t understand how we can control outcome. Outcome is a result of a personal choice. "Success is eighty percent attitude and twenty percent aptitude.”

“Goal #1 (Increase Economic and Racial Integration) Participation in Advanced Placement and College in the Schools Courses” 

Initially, it seems we have a disparity until you realize that 72% of our students are white (and 78% of students enrolled in advanced placement courses are white). It’s a 6% gap. Can we cross-reference these numbers with the demographic population from 2018-2023? Otherwise I’m not sure they really tell the story. 

“Goal #1 - Key Indicator of Progress: Increase the number of American Indian parents, guardians, and learners that attend our family engagement event.” 

I agree that the family is a key! For decades, researchers have point­ed to one key suc­cess fac­tor that tran­scends near­ly all oth­ers (such as socioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus, stu­dent back­ground or the kind of school a stu­dent attends) is parental involve­ment. Stu­dents whose par­ents stay involved in school have bet­ter atten­dance and behav­ior, get bet­ter grades, demon­strate bet­ter social skills and adapt bet­ter to school.

How will we do this? And why would we only focus on American Indians when our demographics show American Indians make up 1% of student population?


“Goal #2 (Reduce Disparities in Achievement) - Strategies: …Engage families in their child’s education, giving resources to families to use with their children at home.
Instructional Literacy Coaches - 1.5 FTE
Family Cultural Advocates”

How does the role of family cultural advocates work? Are we partnering with reputable outside organizations:vTreehouse, Fully Charged, others?

“Goal #3 (Increase Access for all students to qualified diverse educators) - Strategies: …Professional development for staff to meet the diverse needs of all learners.”

How will this differ what the current professional development? Will we be hiring new training positions or paying for outside consulting or programing? I think the plans to increase places where open positions are posted, connecting directly with more colleges and universities is a strong plan. What are “restorative practices” as mentioned? (Initially the presentation stated, “Staff participate in equity training; Staff participate in restorative practices.”)

“Multi-district activities” What would this be and is it part of the MDE requirement?

Minnesota Statute on A&I require at least 80% of revenue be used for actual innovative and integrated learning environments, no more than 20% on professional development and no more than 10% on administrative costs.

“$75,000 Incentive - Reduce racial and economic disparities” Is this like a bonus? Are any funds matched by a local levy to our taxpayers?

“1.5 Instructional coaches - $150,000” Will these coaches work with teachers and implement professional development? Is there any way this would cost our district more money than we’re taking in? Including but not limited to liability of new hires and contracts?
“2-4 Family Cultural Advocates - $300,000” How do we identify family cultural advocates? 

“Success coaches” Will these 3 positions (2 MS, 1 HS) work directly with students? With all three of these line items, is there any way this would cost our district more money than we’re taking in? Further, again what are the liabilities?

“Administrative - $20,000” What might these supplies be? I had heard mention of using these dollars to reinstate the Panorama survey. That would not be a new program.

What happens if we don’t meet our goals? Who measures our goals? If not met, does funding cease? Can funding increase?

Another item on the agenda is an intent to increase Facility Fees beginning FY 2024 (July 1, 2023). In the spring of 2019, the Board made the decision to begin a 5% incremental fee increase to our facility fee schedule on an every other year basis. This took effect for FY2020 and we made 5% adjustments in FY2022. As a district, we are fully aware that we provide the vast majority of athletic venues in the community and want to support our youth athletes and activity participants by allowing them to use our spaces outside of official ISD 192 activities. In doing this, we were not generating the revenue needed to maintain the facilities for non-ISD 192 use. We still don’t fully cover all of the “real” costs, but we have made progress in closing that gap. Secondly, we want to work with our community partners that rent our spaces to develop a consistent budgetary expectation for them so they can make informed decisions. They are much better able to manage incremental budgetary increases versus the district making significant unanticipated changes that put them at a disadvantage based upon their yearly budget cycle. Here is the current proposal that shows the approximate 5% increase to current fees. (Class B rates are for community non-profit groups serving youth and Class C rates are for non-community for profit groups.)

The board has offered another three-year contract to Jason Berg for the position of Superintendent of Schools for Farmington ISD 192 from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2026. Mr. Berg has accepted and a mutually agreeable contract has been negotiated. It is recommended that the new contract be approved, pending the signing of the contract as agreed upon.

At our last work session we discussed policies 616, 806 and the deletion of 1018 and will look to approve these three.

Policy 616 - School District System Accountability. (I wrote about this last month.) The purpose of this policy is to “promote higher academic achievement…and ensures broad-based community participation.” I am personally compelled to recruit more community-based membership of this group that reflects a balance of perspectives. This is supposed to be achieved in various ways but in large by the Instruction Review Committee that is composed of a Director of Curriculum, principals, student representatives, teachers from each building, parents from each building, residents without school-aged children, residents of local business/industry and a District Assessment Coordinator. We, as a board plan to eliminate the language of the policy that requires a board member on the committee, however board members are welcome to be on the committee.

IV. A. School District Goals.
A. 1. that “established school district-wide goals that provided broad direction for the school district,” This refers to our Strategic Plan and Objectives.
2. establishes the Instructional Program Review Committee and should “ensure active community participation.” 

3. The school districts goal setting process including individual site goals. This to our District’s Operating Plan and Q Comp Goals

B. System for Reviewing All Instruction and Curriculum. This system falls under our Department of Teaching and Learning in consultation with our building principals who receive feedback from staff if there are resources needed. As new standards are adopted by MDE, there is a process of reviewing these and providing professional development to staff who work with those standards. Annually, IPR engages in reviewing course deletions, modifications, and additions that are also brought to the board. 

C. Implementation of Graduation Requirements 

1. States the the recommendations of the IPR Committee are published annual to the community and that the school board receives public input on this policy annally. Minutes of IPR are published in the consent agendas of board meetings and this policy when reviewed annually is also made available for the public to view and comment.

2. Touches on making sure we are meeting federal exceptions. The state of Minnesota identifies and informs us of infractions.
3. Speaks to measuring individual student progress. NWEA is the assessment.

F. Reporting. 

1. We are obligate to publish a report in local newspaper (SunThisWeek) and on district website, and to hold an annual public meeting to review and revise “student achievement goals, local assessment outcomes, plans, strategies, and practices for improving curriculum, instruction, cultural competency,” The October 24, 2022 Business Meeting included a World’s Best Workforce/Data and Assessment Overview that seeks to meet this obligation.

2. Performance report that calculates proficiency rates as required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. (The MDE Report Card.)

If you have any questions or concerns regarding our district’s academic accountability, please show up for public comment, Monday at 5:20pm!

Policy 806 on Crisis Management seems like a strong policy in itself and necessary.

III. Long-term recovery intervention was supposed to be removed as was the last broken link in the reference section.

Deletion of Policy 1018 - COVID-19 Vaccination Emergency Temporary Standard: Vaccination, Testing, and Face Covering Policy is being removed as it is no longer pertinent.

Other information and concerns I’m thinking through include the recent MDE report on 2022 graduation rates across the state and including FHS. The state-wide graduation rate for the class of 2022 was 83.6% (58,586 students), which represents a 0.2 percentage point increase in students from 2021. As a district we saw our graduation rate jump from 91.9% in 2020-21 to 94.1% in 2021-22. In addition, we have another 2.3% of the class of 2022 that are continuing to pursue their FHS diploma. 

While my first reaction is to celebrate (this is terrific news), then I start asking questions. How do we compare with surrounding districts? What are the graduation requirements? And if our graduation rates are increasing, why would our test scores be declining? It leads me to believe we have somehow lowered the bar (or requirements) for graduation. Though the curriculum is set to meet the Minnesota State Standards, is the coursework not rigorous? Are students allowed to retake tests as many times as they needed to memorize the right answers?

Comparatively, our graduation rates are competitive with surrounding districts. And further the graduation requirements seem comparable as well.

After personally finding it a major victory to cut funding for the Panorama survey in the 2023-24 budget, I found out the spring survey for 2022-23 will be administered May 15-26 throughout the district. In my opinion, this is data mining our children and I would like to stop funding. This is resource I found helpful and easy to read. 

In-class surveys ask leading and biased questions of our children. Collected data is interpreted through an “equity lens” of systemic racism & oppression producing biased results often resulting in a “need” for the district to concentrate on DEI measures, “social justice” and continues to indoctrinate students based on biased results.

Other alarming information about this data mining I found is that data is stored and used to create psychological profiles for each student. Data is monitored and continuously updated creating a permanent profile of your child. Surveys use leading questions to gain access to student’s attitudes, beliefs, and values on subjective and divisive issues such as race, biases, gender ideology, and identity issues.
President Obama’s Education Race to the Top program awarded over $4 billion to states agreeing to build or improve Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) that store psychological profiles of students. Statewide systems can eventually link nationally and then globally. (Similar to Social Credit Scores in China.) Data will not only impact their education but in the near future will likely have a life-altering impact when they enter postsecondary education, the workforce, the military, exercise their constitutional rights, etc. 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was originally a strong bill that blocked any school from disclosing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from a student’s educational records to any non-school official without parental notification or consent. In 2008 and 2009 the bill was amended and consequently left useless by allowing schools to share data with third party companies and organizations.

Medical and counseling records included in your child’s education records are not protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) protects students from having to reveal personal information without parental consent IF it is required, funded by the federal government, and collects data such as political affiliations and religious beliefs. Most surveys given to students are NOT required and therefore are not protected by PPRA.

Schools are only required to notify parents of a survey being given and allow parents to opt their children out. PPRA gives you the right to stop the data mining of your child but you have to enforce it. You can use a form provided by your child’s school or issue one of your own as such to your child’s principal, counselor:

I, ____, as parent and/or legal guardian of _____, a minor child, hereby exercise my right under the US Constitution and laws of the State of Minnesota , to direct the upbringing and education of my minor child, as follows: 

    1. I DO NOT CONSENT to my child’s participation in any opinion survey, personal analysis, evaluation, questionnaire or any other form of data collection that reveals or attempts to affect, or references or relates in any way to my child’s attitudes, habits, traits, opinions, beliefs or feelings concerning: curriculum, political affiliations, religious beliefs or practices; mental or psychological conditions; sexual behavior or attitudes, sexual activity, sexual orientation; gender identity; or illegal, antisocial, self- incriminating or demeaning behavior. For the avoidance of doubt, my child is not allowed or permitted to partake in any survey, including curriculum centric and/or opinion in nature, without parental written consent. 

Signed, ________

What if more parents informed the school board and administration that they object to these surveys and tax-payers should not be paying for this survey? I personally have opted my child out of this survey and will continue to advocate that as a district, we DO NOT fund and administer these surveys.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns or clarifications.


Popular posts from this blog

Specifically Policy 616 and Personnel

Achievement and Integration