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«MINNETONKA INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT #276 Service Center 5621 County Road 101 Minnetonka, Minnesota Minutes of December 6, 2007 School Board ...»

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Service Center

5621 County Road 101

Minnetonka, Minnesota

Minutes of December 6, 2007 School Board Meeting

The School Board of Minnetonka Independent School District #276, met in regular session at

7:15 p.m. on December 6, 2007 in the Community Room at the District Service Center, 5621

County Road 101, Minnetonka, Minnesota. Chairperson Judy Erdahl presided. Other Board

members present were: Erin Adams, Calvin Litsey, Pamela Langseth (left the meeting early for an emergency), Cathy Maes, Peggy Stefan, William Wenmark and Superintendent Dennis Peterson, ex officio.

Prior to the meeting, Board members recognized Boys and Girls Cross Country State Qualifiers and their coaches; Girls State Tennis State Qualifiers and their coaches; Minnesota State Honors Choir Members and their Choral Directors; and the recipient of the 3M Innovative Economic Educator Award.

Chairperson Erdahl called the meeting to order and asked that everyone stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

1. AGENDA Prior to taking action on the agenda, Board member Wenmark requested that Consent Agenda item XIV. g., Trust Accounts, be brought forward for discussion. Chairperson Erdahl also noted that Consent Agenda XIV. h. had been withdrawn.

Wenmark moved, Stefan seconded, that the School Board adopt the agenda as amended.

Upon vote being taken thereon, the motion carried unanimously.

2. SCHOOL REPORT: Minnetonka Middle School East Minnetonka Middle School East (MME) principal Pete Dymit, along with Assistant Principal Amber Teegardin and Counselor, Dawn Bruesehoff, reported on the work being done to create a culture at MME where students are actively engaged in their education. Mr. Dymit explained that this goal was selected to help students who struggle to maintain focus and who need regular opportunities to get organized. He also noted that this goal aligned with the Strategic Plan goals to implement a study skills curriculum and develop and reflect on personal and educational goals.

Mr. Dymit outlined the implementation strategies that covered a start of school year plan; a fall and Spring Conference Plan and the SOAR/Advisory Plan. He then called upon Amber Teegardin who spoke about the start of the school year activities that included conversations with all students on the importance of being goal-oriented; the introduction of the SOAR/Advisory Plan and preparation for NWEA testing. MME Counselor, Dawn Bruesehoff spoke about the follow-up work in Advisory and activities to help students prepare for High School. She also spoke about the Career Fair at which forty-five speakers from a variety of professions spoke to 7th graders and the Career Shadow program where 8th graders spent a day with someone as they worked their job.

2 In the discussion that followed, Board members expressed their appreciation to Mr. Dymit, Ms. Teegardin and Ms. Bruesehoff for their presentation. Chairperson Erdahl said how much she appreciated the goal planning and the level of thought and detail that this involved.

3. COMMUNITY COMMENTS Chairperson Erdahl outlined the guidelines for the Community Comments portion of the agenda noting that this opportunity was available to members of the audience who wished to address the Board on any item on that night’s agenda. She explained that if an answer were readily available, this would be provided immediately; however, should any concerns need further research, a response would be given at the next regularly scheduled board meeting. Chairperson Erdahl also noted that at study sessions, citizens could address the Board on any issue.

Physical Education teacher, Chris Cohen, addressed the Board and spoke to the new Physical Education proposal that he said was not in keeping with empowering students with the knowledge to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle for years to come. Mr. Cohen said the proposal to allow students to use a family fitness plan or work out at a health club sent a message to the Physical Education department that their classes were not valued and could be taught by any untrained or unlicensed person.

Minnetonka Physical Education teacher, Sandy Gosen, thanked the Board for the opportunity to speak about one of her passions: a quality health education. Ms. Gosen asked the Board to carefully “consider and debate” the proposed PE delivery model and question whether it was the direction they wanted the District to go. She said the proposed delivery model for Physical Education would change the philosophy of education at MHS and urged the Board to continue to dialogue with the administration and physical education professionals for “as long as it takes” so that there could be a better solution for Minnetonka students.

Parent Cindy McCollum spoke to the condition of the District’s swimming pools, describing them as “deplorable.” She cited the lack of starting blocks, insufficient lanes, poor ventilation and lack of spectator seating as areas of great concern for the athletes and their families and said she hoped the Board would take a serious look at building a better facility or making improvements to the present pools.

Parent Amy Busch added her comments to that of Ms. McCollum, saying that the locker rooms at the pools were dirty and moldy and how she felt this did not fit with the excellence that usually describes the Minnetonka Schools. Ms. Busch asked that the Board do something to make the pool facilities clean and safe for the students.

4. VISION/STRATEGIC PLAN REPORT Superintendent Peterson called upon Janet Swiecichowski to report to the Board on the Strategic Planning process and the upcoming annual update session scheduled for December 11-12. Dr. Peterson said the process that began in the summer of 2002 had enabled the District to accomplish a great deal for students, staff and the community.

Ms. Swiecichowski reviewed the Strategic Planning process and said since 2002 the level of excitement and confidence about the process had increased a great deal because of what people had seen as a result of having the Strategic Plan in place. She said the responsibility of the Strategic Planning Team that would be meeting next week would be to look at how the 3 District’s beliefs were lived out from day to day; analyze strengths, weaknesses and threats;

look at technological, socio-economic and political trends and identify new strategies to begin work. Ms. Swiecichowski said new action planning teams would be developed next spring to respond to the work being done on December 11-12.

Ms. Swiecichowski listed several initiatives that she said grew out of action plans in previous years and shared the names of the 2007 Strategic Planning Team that included administrators, Board members, community residents, support staff, parents, principals, teachers and students. She also noted the two events at which futurist Gary Marx spoke about emerging trends.

Discussion followed, at which time Board member Adams said she hoped the trends talked about by Gary Marx would be explored by the team and that the team would spend time contemplating student situations.


Superintendent Peterson referenced the attendance policy recently adopted by the Board and the Board’s goal to have follow-up reports on new initiatives. He called upon Executive Director of Teaching & Learning, Mark Larson, to report on the implementation of the new attendance policy.

Dr. Larson said the preliminary findings were that the policy had had a positive impact on some key indicators. He noted that the overall attendance rate was 96.54% for the first quarter and that the change in unexcused absences had decreased from 2006 when it was 8.56% of all absences to 2.21% for the first quarter this year. Dr. Larson highlighted two other very positive consequences that had occurred, reporting that the number of disciplinary referrals had dropped from 796 in 2006 for the first quarter to 230 for the first quarter of 2007-08. “Likewise, the suspension data shows that for the first quarter in 2006 there were 56 suspensions and that decreased to 34 for the same period in 2007-08,” he said.

Minnetonka High School (MHS) Principal, Dave Adney and Assistant Principal, Jeff Erickson also addressed the Board and reported in more detail on the attendance data for the first quarter. Mr. Adney said the new policy allowed for greater accountability; better communication as well as quicker interventions, and emphasized the importance of teachers taking accurate, hourly attendance. Mr. Erickson described the attendance team that he said included principals; hall paraprofessionals; attendance secretaries; the Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) staff and the truancy coordinator, and explained what was required with each unexcused absence and for students with significant truancy issues.

In the discussion that followed, Board member Stefan said she felt this was the “quickest results” from a policy change that the Board had ever seen. Board member Adams requested to see discipline referral data for 2004 to compare with the first quarter of this year.

–  –  –

Dr. Larson said it was important to note that this was only the first quarter under the new policy and that updates would be provided in future months in order to analyze trends. By way of a PowerPoint presentation, he shared data for MHS as well as Minnetonka Middle Schools East and West, and noted that preliminary findings for MHS indicated there were about the same percentage of students who earned an “A” the first quarter in 2007-08 as in 2006-07. He also shared specific comparisons of grade changes from Quarter 1 in 2006-07 and 2007-08 as well as breakdowns by school, grade and subject, and called upon principals Adney, Dymit and Jacobson to comment on the impact of the new policy at each of the three buildings.

Board discussion followed at which time questions were asked about how students and their families received communications about the new grading policy; what kind of feedback was being heard from parents; how teachers were adjusting to the changes; and homework issues.

Board member Adams also emphasized the importance of the Board having the opportunity to reflect on the success of both the attendance and grading policies after a year’s worth of data had been gathered.


Superintendent Peterson spoke about the very positive relationship the District enjoyed with the Diamond Club and which had enabled the building of an outstanding baseball/football field complex as well as four softball fields. Dr. Peterson noted that the financing for these fields was borne by the Diamond Club, and the District had facilitated the fund-raising in various ways in order to make debt payments.

Dr. Peterson outlined the proposal to accept a $50,000 donation and extend naming rights with it for the softball complex. He explained that individuals making the donation would ask for community suggestions and a committee would select a name that would be proposed to the donors and, ultimately, the School Board, for final naming. Dr. Peterson said while the Board has the final authority to name District facilities, the proposal called for the individual fields being named annually through a specific donation by other individuals or companies. “That name would be good on an annual basis, and the cost would be $10,000 per year,” he said. Dr.

Peterson said that the fields would also be given a very generic name (1, 2, 3, and 4) to help people keep track of the various fields, despite “name” changes over the years.

Board member discussed the proposal at length and agreed that while it was definitely innovative, they needed to see more specifics. Board member Litsey said he preferred to think people would donate “out of their hearts rather than for marketing opportunities,” and Board member Stefan said she needed to see more details on the proposal before taking action.

Adams moved Maes seconded that the School Board direct the Administration to enter into the necessary conversations and procedures to accept a $50,000 donation for the extended naming rights for the softball complex and to also direct the Administration to initiate conversations with the Diamond Club to ascertain the feasibility of the $10,000 per year proposal.

–  –  –

Upon vote being taken on the foregoing motion, the motion carried unanimously.


Superintendent Peterson said that the District annually reviews course offerings at Minnetonka High School to determine if changes or deletions needed to be made. He noted that the process was extensive and involved input and recommendations from staff members.

He then called upon Mark Larson to present the new course proposals for the 2008-09 school year.

Dr. Larson presented the proposals for new courses at MHS and outlined the process by which the courses were reviewed and feedback received. He noted that the timeline this year was more aggressive than in the past and required proposals to be ready in the fall of the year to allow input and feedback from the Teaching & Learning Advisory Committee, District Department Chairs, High School Chairs and many other staff members. Dr. Larson said that courses approved at this time would be available, depending on enrollment, for the 2008-09 school year.

Dr. Larson reviewed the proposals that covered courses in Art, English, Family & Consumer Sciences; Business, Mathematics, English and Social Studies and responded to Board members’ questions. Board member Stefan said she was “very excited” about several of the proposed course offerings because of the opportunities they provided for 11th and 12th graders.

Dr. Larson addressed the proposed changes to the math courses, explaining this was an area of focus because of the MCA II state-wide test that all students must pass in order to graduate. “This math proposal is in response to this requirement because many students are not proficient,” he said.

Following further discussion at which time Board members noted the absence of information on the IB Economics course, it was suggested that to keep the process moving, all course proposals be approved, except IB Economics SL.

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