Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In
 
​​​
There are no items to show in this view of the "Mr. Harris' Links" list.

MrHarris.jpg
Edward J. Harris

Superintendent


 

Mr. Harris' Professional Portfolio

 

 
From the Desk of the Superintendent

Summer 2014 Gopher Gazette

 


 

Hello,

This summer has been another busy one as we prepare for what should be another very successful year in Gopher Country!  Last year’s successes in student achievement, performance, and teacher development were nothing short of tremendous.  Plans to build upon those are in the works and should prove to get us off to a great start in 2014-2015.  Community and parent support for our students and the work that we do here has been terrific and certainly a big reason why Chatfield is a great place for kids.  As of July, we have brought several new people on board.  I would like to officially welcome them to our team as we look forward to supporting their work within the District.


 
Kristine Swenson
Mabel
Kindergarten Teacher

 
Kimberly King
Rushford
4th Grade Teacher

 
Abigail Potter
Rochester
K-12 Art Teacher

 
Tim Willette
Spring Valley
HS Agriculture/STEM Teacher

 
RuthAnn Lund
Chatfield
Head Volleyball Coach

 
Kathy Bernard
Spring Valley
9th Grade Volleyball Coach

 
Abby Schaber
St. Charles
8th Grade Volleyball Coach

 
Nathan  Whitacre
Peterson
7/8 Football Coach

 
Dan Murphy
Chatfield
Elementary Custodian

 


 

As Superintendent it has been a pleasure to support the recent developments in student programming and teacher training.  This summer, a number of teachers have been engaged in technology integration training as well as planning for further exploration during the school year of best practices relating to examination of student achievement data to continually improve classroom instruction.  An exciting prospect in this area for both buildings are the plans to reorganize time on a weekly basis for groups of teachers in each building to professionally collaborate on specific projects that should continually support quality instruction and preparation of all students to be ready for post-secondary education and/or career opportunities.  The goal of this is also to develop additional enrichment and/or academic support opportunities for kids that would run simultaneously.  The research proven idea of increasing the frequency of staff development activities is a goal of most school districts as they too try to find ways to continually develop educational practices that support the increasing demands of what it means for our youth to be successful in the 21st century.  

A few words of thanks…

The types of ventures mentioned above are not possible without a supportive and trusting school board.  I would like to thank them for their confidence in our work and the time they spend on the District’s behalf.  I would also like to acknowledge our custodians and cleaning crew for their efforts this summer to prepare for the opening of school.  Additionally, the office staff in the elementary, high school, and district office do so much during the summer that it would be impossible to launch a school year successfully without the kind of care they take in their work.  All of these folks work tremendously hard and take pride in what they do.  Thank you.  


 


 

School Board Appreciation Week​

Winter 2013-2014

The Chatfield School District will join school districts throughout the state to salute their local education leaders during Minnesota's annual School Board Recognition Week February 17-21.  The commemorative week is designed to recognize the contributions made by Minnesota's school board members, including the Chatfield School Board, who are charged with governing public education under state law.  Minnesota school board members are chosen by their communities through election or appointment to manage local schools. They oversee multimillion dollar budgets which fund education programs for more than 825,000 students in approximately 2,000 schools. Their personnel decisions affect more than 52,000 teachers and thousands of administrators and support workers.  These volunteer leaders also are responsible for formulating school district policy, approving curricula, maintaining school facilities, and adhering to state and federal education law.  Legal concerns and the complexities of school finance, including budgeting and taxation, require them to spend many hours in board training programs and personal study to enhance their understanding of these issues.  Our deepest appreciation is extended to the dedicated men and women who make it possible for local citizens to participate in education in our community. We salute the public servants of the Chatfield School Board whose commitment and civic responsibility make local control of public schools in our community possible:  Jerry Chase, Greg LaPlante, F. Mike Tuohy, Matt McMahon, Kathy Schellhammer, and Tom Sturgis.  Please join us by saying thanks to our school board members during Minnesota's School Board Recognition Week!

Continuous Improvement

As mid-January, the K-6 leadership team and elementary teachers have made significant progress in developing a building wide plan of improvement that includes efforts to rebuild the academic/professional culture to include a mechanism where teachers are regularly meeting and using real-time student data to advance their practice in a professional manner and influence student achievement in each classroom.  This is commonly referred to as implementing PLC's (Professional Learning Communities), which if done right, is the most widely agreed upon strategy to improving student achievement in schools.  The Improvement Plan itself is taking draft form and was presented for review by the CILT (Continuous Improvement Leadership Team) on Wednesday, January 15.  It is essentially a roadmap for PLC development, a recognition of what we are currently doing that is good practice, and guidance for next steps that will support increased student learning over the course of the next 2-3 years.  There are a number of things at work in this process and I am very proud of the way that Mr. Ihrke and his staff have responded.  I anticipate that this effort will begin to bear fruit as early as this spring's MCA results.  There has also been additional developments relating to this that are going to support the eventual connection of this close examination of teacher practice and student data to the high school through involvement of the 7/8 English and math teachers.

Budget Season

We are preparing to review/update the current budget at the February meeting (Tuesday the 18th).  A meeting has been scheduled for the Finance and Facilities Committee to meet at 6:00 that same evening to go over details and consider next steps.  Here is some timely discussion on the topic of school finance…

When the community passed the referendum in November of 2011 for operating funds, we believed (based on projections at the time) that passage of it would give us 3-5 years of reasonable security before serious concerns reemerged.  At that time, "serious concerns" was defined as projected budget deficits that would erode critical reserves and then force the choice of significant cuts to programs and staff and/or asking the community for increased levy authority to stabilize the budget.  The good news is that our projections have held up pretty well and have not given us any nasty surprises.  However, we are projected to deficit spend this year (2013-2014) and into the future if the expenditure budget is carried forward as is.

Clearly, we need to start cutting back expenses starting with the 2014-2015 budget to preserve our solvency and set the stage to balance expenditures with revenues.  Cost reductions could take a number of different forms such as a) cost effective contract settlements b) reduction in staff development and operational expenditures c) maximizing new levy and aid opportunities that may arise d) opportunistically rebidding supply and contracted services/contracts d) cutting staff and programs. 

I have spoken openly with the staff, administration and school board about the need for $100,000 to $150,000 in budget reductions for next year in an effort to provide some perspective on the larger budget picture since there have not been any reductions since the spring of 2010 and we have added back programs and staff since then.  As spring approaches, the reduction possibilities will become more firm as planning begins in earnest for the coming year.  We also will begin to get some idea as to whether or not there will be any cost savings related to this spring's legislative session which is supposed to be the "unsession" meaning another attempt at removing cumbersome, expensive state mandates for schools.

TECHSPO 2014

The Chatfield community may be interested in knowing that, in educational terms, a pretty significant event occurred at the elementary school on January 20.  Over 450 educators from several area schools (including Chatfield) converged on Chatfield Elementary for a full day of technology use learning and sharing.  The event was a tremendous success due to the efforts of teacher presenters (some from Chatfield), Kristy Cook (Chatfield Tech Integration Specialist), Damon Lueck (Chatfield Tech Director), Chatfield Food Service (Taher), our Custodial Staff, Office Staff, and National Honor Society Student Helpers.  Nearly the entire facility was in use and it easily supported the technology needs of everyone which was an impressive feat.  There were dozens of mini sessions throughout the day that staff could choose to attend depending upon their teaching assignment and interest.  Initial feedback was very positive.  It was exciting to see the adults immersed in best practice discussions about current technologies and strategies that can impact student learning in a positive way.  Way to go Chatfield Staff!

Final Comment

There have been so many examples this year of how well supported our students and staff are by the Chatfield community.  I wish to thank you for that support and congratulate the citizenry on setting an example in this regard that is noticed on a regular basis from others in neighboring communities and across the state.

 

Fall 2013 Gopher Gazette (E. Harris) 

 

By the time this edition of the Gopher Gazette goes to print, we will have been in school for the better part of a month.  It has been a very smooth start.  The students and staff really came in ready to go and in many ways the feeling of normalcy had already set in by the end of the first week.  Maybe this was because fall activities started earlier than usual and we had so many staff members attending trainings over the summer to prepare this year's upcoming initiatives.  The 1 to 1 iPad project has been very well received by students, staff and parents and the 2nd year of the Action100 reading program is already in full swing.  I am very pleased with the start of the school year and wish to thank the students, staff and administration for their efforts thus far.

Each year about this time we begin to get state testing data summaries from the prior year and enrollment comparisons using the current year.  Although, at the time of this publication we do not yet have the official results of the Multiple Measure Rating (MMR)* from the State of Minnesota, I would like to share some preliminary information from the District perspective regarding student achievement and District enrollment.

Student Achievement Measures

  1. According to state achievement data , the elementary, high school, and District all made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) this past year based on the preliminary results of the 2013 MCA Reading and Math Assessment**
  2. A majority of Chatfield's Class of 2013 took the ACT college readiness exam.  As a group they scored above the state average in each category (English, math, reading, science).

"World's Best Workforce" Legislation

Planning will begin in October to develop a multi-year strategic plan that focuses on the examination of data to drive decision making and teacher instruction in a way that promotes excellence in teaching and learning.  Annual student achievement goals will be set for local and state assessments as well as other measures of growth.  This plan will be developed by a group of teacher leaders and administrators for approval by the School Board sometime later this year.  This plan development project is not only good practice, but also a new requirement set forth by the Minnesota Legislature for all school districts in the state.  The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will be monitoring the progress on these plans for districts across the state starting in the fall of 2014.  This new mandate was coined the "World's Best Workforce" when it was conceived by the MN legislature last spring.

Enrollment

Chatfield's current K-12 enrollment is 921.  At this time last year, the count was 910.  The average enrollment over the course of the past few years has been fairly consistent with a modest net increase of about 3% since the 2010-2011 school year.  This is primarily due to large kindergarten classes, two out of the last three years.  Enrollment is directly linked to funding from the State.  We consider ourselves quite fortunate that we are not experiencing a significant and persistent decline in enrollment that is common in other small rural school districts around the state.  At this time, our enrollment projection model suggests that the student count should remain fairly stable over the course of the next few years.

NOTES

*If you are not familiar with the MMR, it is the new system used by the State of Minnesota to determine whether schools are on track to meet new statewide achievement goals. The MMR includes four measurements: student proficiency, student growth, achievement gap reduction, and graduation rates. This rating is used to identify low-performing schools that need state support, as well as high-performing schools deserving recognition. The student scores in the MMR use the results of the annual Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) exams. 

**The 2013 MCA reading and math results are not valid comparisons to the Districts previous years' results for several reasons.  The Commissioner of Education presented a letter for districts last May to distribute to their patrons at a later date explaining why the State expects a dip in scores compared to 2012 and why that should not be considered a result of lesser performance, but instead a function of different content standards and test structures.  The Commissioner's advice is to use the 2013 MCA reading and math results as a new baseline to work from.  Here is a link to her public statement to parents on the matter.   http://tinyurl.com/lqv7vzq

 

 

Spring 2013


 

The 2012-2013 school year has gone amazingly fast.  It seemed like we leapt straight from winter to summer.  Oh, wait, maybe that had something to do with the weather!  At any rate, I would like to publically thank the students, staff, and parents for the tremendous effort this year.  There are so many success stories!  If you were able to attend the academic banquet held on May 8, you would have seen a remarkable example of how the efforts of students and staff (supported by parents) throughout the entire K-12 system collaborate to support student achievement in academics and activities at a very high level.  By the time you read this, the senior banquet will also have occurred on the 21st of May.   This is a showcase of academic accomplishment for our graduates that could rival schools larger than ours based on the value of the scholarships that are earned by our graduates.

At the end of every year, we reflect back on how far we have come as well as await the summer and school year ahead with anticipation.  This year is no different.  In 2013-2014, our Action 100 program will enter its 2nd year while an iPad/mobile device project involving multiple grades in each building begins.  In preparation for these types of major initiatives as well as numerous other curriculum and course development projects in all grades, over 30 teachers have requested a total of nearly 1000 hours of curriculum writing time this summer to prepare.  I think this speaks well to the level of commitment that our staff has to professional development that supports student learning.  We are going to try very hard to support as many of those requests as we can.  Needless to say, there is a lot to be proud of here in Chatfield!


Fall 2012

  

The 2012-2013 school year is well under way and I am proud to say that the students and staff have done a super job in getting it off to a great start.  I am extremely excited about the teaching and learning opportunities that we are working on to offer further support to our young people as they prepare for their futures.  Our teachers, staff, and administrators are energized and confident that they can meet the challenging goals that they have set for themselves this year.

 

As a District, we were very pleased to see the our Minnesota Competency Assessment (MCA) scores in both reading and math increase over the previous year.  Those results coupled with other measures such as our graduation rate and achievement gap combined to produce a favorable rating from the State of Minnesota this year.  This new universal rating system called the Multiple Measure Rating (MMR) is the next generation school effectiveness tool being used by the state to determine if schools are “making the grade” so to speak. We are confident that our focused attention on such efforts as the pre-K through 6 reading initiative (Action 100), secondary SMART goal and culture initiatives, MCA III Math preparation strategies, and K-12 curriculum alignment process will position us to continually improve as a institution of teaching and learning.

 

From a business perspective, our position continues to be favorable.  Preliminary indicators are that the 2011-2012 budget will close to within about 1% of the projected expenditures.  Also, this fall’s enrollment has increased compared to this time last year and the preliminary levy projection indicates a change of less than ½ of 1% (.33%) compared to last year.  The 2012-2013 budget was expanded to some degree to address the cost of new program initiatives and increased staff needed to accommodate the increase in enrollment.  These new costs and revenues from the increased enrollment will be integrated into our financial planning model (fund balance and enrollment projection system) and assessed for sustainability later this fall.  I am hopeful that in the coming years, the state economy stabilizes enough to allow the legislators and the governor to come to an agreement on school funding that is somewhat fair, but maybe more importantly, predictable.  If that were to happen, long-range fiscal planning for schools would certainly become more of a science and less of an art.

 

Go Gophers!

 

 

Summer 2012

 

Welcome back to school!  In a few short weeks the 2012-2013 school year will begin.  Next year is loaded with opportunities to continually improve how we serve students and elevate their abilities to thrive.  Here are a few notes about upcoming plans and the new staff that will be joining us.

 

Action 100 and the 100 Book Challenge

After months of planning and research, the school board approved the recommendation to implement a major literacy initiative in the elementary that will engage students and parents like never before.  With top notch consultancy and an eager staff and administration, we believe that we will be able to arrive at a new standard of literacy instruction, engagement, and intervention in 2012-2013.
 
Curriculum Alignment
To date, the K-12 English and Math teachers have made considerable progress in evaluating the present curriculum and aligning instruction to the new state standards.  This coming year, the plan is to assist the K-12 Social Studies and Science teachers on that same journey that will conclude with K-12 agreement on a guaranteed and viable curriculum.  I would like to thank and commend the teachers that are presently engaged in this effort.  It is time intensive and requires a significant commitment on everyone’s part.
 
eClassroom Summer Academy
This summer, a group of committed Chatfield staff including teachers, office staff, and administrators enrolled in a 6 week graduate level course designed to teach them all that was necessary to build and facilitate online or hybrid courses for students or adult learners.  Barb Sass, Kristy Cook, Stacy Fritz, Dan Conway, Jeff DeBuhr, Damon Lueck, Craig Ihrke, and Ed Harris are all on track to complete the course at the end of July and then use what they have built to enhance the classroom experience for kids or update the processes for delivering staff development to adults.  Thank you to those that have taken this on.  It has been a great deal of work but also very enjoyable and enlightening.
 
Curriculum and Staff Development Leadership Team
With full attention being paid to making purposeful plans to support excellent teaching and learning opportunities, it became evident that a staff-based leadership group was needed to help the District plan and implement high impact teacher learning and curriculum development activities.  A group of peer-nominated K-12 teachers and the administration met in June to begin planning their purpose and mission as well as an agenda for a follow up meeting in August.  This group will meet regularly to be the clearinghouse for ideas and plans to support District-level initiatives.  I would like to thank those on this committee for responding to the leadership call and being willing to put in extra time and effort on behalf of our kids and staff.
 
9-12 Online Course Expansion
Last winter the high school embarked on a pilot program to offer online courses within the building to students that had a special interest, a schedule conflict, or a need to recover lost credits.  We intend to intensify this effort by assigning a teacher to assist those taking the courses to ensure success, fidelity, and provide an expansion of course offerings.  Web-based learning is a standard option in K-12 education now and creates some course opportunities in smaller schools that they normally would not have access to.
 
College in the Schools – University of Minnesota Literature Course
Juniors and seniors will have the opportunity to enroll in a University of Minnesota Literature and Writing intensive course that will be taught in our building.  Besides receiving the English credits required for high school graduation, students will simultaneously earn four college credits from the University of Minnesota for completing this course.  This is a great example of the pursuit of excellence exhibited by Chatfield teachers.  Thank you to Mrs. Bren for taking on this huge commitment in an effort to offer opportunities for academic excellence to our students!
 
New Staff
Retirements, departures, new grant supported programming, and another robust class of kindergartners combined to create another busy hiring season.  We are very excited about our new people and think that they will do a great job!  As of July 18, here are the new staff members that will be joining the district.  Note: We are still in the process of filling openings in vocal music and physical education.
 
               Tiffany Wilkie……………………………. Kindergarten
               Mary Catherine Johnson……………  Kindergarten
               Bryan Crowson………………………….  2nd Grade
               Meredith Keefe…………………………. 5th Grade
               Jayna Harstad……………………………  ADSIS Teacher (project based intervention program)
               Stacy Hogberg…………………………… HS English
               Mitch Lee………………………………….. 9-12 Online Learning
               Nikki Ostby………………………………… 8th Grade Volleyball
               Deen Narveson…………………………. 7th Grade Volleyball
 
Trista Stamness (consultant) and Elissa Johnsrud (Chatfield Teacher) will be assigned to collaboratively assist the administration in  overseeing and facilitating the teaching and learning initiatives that are scheduled for the coming year that are too numerous to list here.  This position was created last winter and was reopened this summer.  The administrative team interviewed four qualified candidates and determined that the powerful combination of Trista and Elissa would fit the bill.  We are excited to get Trista and Elissa involved in what we think are significant efforts that will change the way teachers teach and students learn.
 
Lastly, I need to publically thank those staff that work within the District through the summer months.  The maintenance/cleaning crew, Valleyland staff/administration, office staff, and principals have been extremely busy and have accomplished a lot in an effort to get ready for 2012-2013.  See you in September!
 
Edward J. Harris
Superintendent

 

 

April 2012

It is hard to believe that we are already starting the last term of this school year.  It does not seem that long ago that we were making preparations for the first day of school.  As we begin closing one school year and preparing for the next (which often overlaps), it is a good time to reflect on how far we have come and what our path to the future looks like.  It is a very exciting time for our school district.  We have a number of efforts that are either in progress or being seriously considered that will influence the level of service to our students, staff, and community.  The aim of these efforts is to allow our school district to continue adapting to the changing needs of our students and the evolving expectations of the state and federal government.
 
Here are some items of note…
 
Literacy:  Literacy is the foundation for student success.  The skills of reading, comprehension, and communication through various mediums directly influence the ability of students to be successful in every aspect of their preK-12 educational experience.  Over the course of this year there have been a number of efforts undertaken to give our students the best chance for success by ensuring that we are properly serving their literacy needs.  This also includes plans to respond to the new Minnesota state mandate that requires school districts to ensure that all students are able to read at grade level before they finish 3rd grade and have an intervention plan ready for those that do not reach that goal.  Here are a few key efforts afoot in our school district that relate to this.
 
  1. A district-wide literacy improvement plan was developed last fall to articulate a preK-12 focus on improving reading skills.
  2. A repurposing of time to focus support for staff development and curriculum efforts by a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) – Judith Brockway.
  3. A comprehensive preK-6 literacy initiative (Action 100 & 100 Book Challenge) that has been researched and proposed by Principal Ihrke, Judith Brockway and the elementary staff for the 2012-2013 school year.  This is an intensive program that will engage students, parents, and staff in an unprecedented effort to develop student interest in reading, parent support, and expert literacy skills for every teacher in the building.  I would like to thank the Chatfield School Board for their support of this effort.
 
6A Curriculum Review:  Over the course of this year and last, our teachers have continued with efforts to review core curriculums and interpret student data to support classroom instruction that is focused on the areas of greatest need.  Math and English are progressing now with science and social studies soon to follow.  Elective departments will be seeking ways to integrate focuses on literacy and math in their respective areas while continuing to offer a balanced K-12 curriculum.  Most of this work is done during early outs and staff workshop days that occur between August 15 and June 15.  As we certify each curriculum, the staff will then focus on instructional best practices and student assessments that will serve every student in a purposeful way.
 
Curriculum and Staff Development Leadership Team (C/SD LT):  Later this spring, a district-wide leadership team consisting of the TOSA, principals, the superintendent and a group of peer-nominated teachers will join together in an effort to provide consistent, long-range guidance for the entire school district in the areas of curriculum and staff development.
 
SMART Goals:  Last August, over 20 K-12 teachers and both building principals engaged in training to identify building level goals for 2011-2012 school year that would directly impact the learning of our students.  Over the course of the training, the elementary and secondary teachers gained a clear understanding of how to develop concise goals that are realistic and achievable.  In turn, the newly trained teachers coached their peers on how to implement a student-centered SMART goal project where students would be given time with their teachers to develop an academic and social goal.  We believe that if students can set appropriate goals and review them with regularity, their academic progress and overall experience within our schools will be positively enhanced.  The students and staff are to be commended for their efforts this year.
 
Technology:   In recent weeks, the school board approved the expansion of online courses for students in the high school.  The intention is to provide an intervention for those students who may be falling behind in graduation credits as well as opportunities for those that would like to explore elective opportunities in an online environment.  This effort provides a comparable program to what other school districts in the area are offering.
 
Also, there has been a considerable amount of time spent this year in our school district and across the state discussing the subject of mobile technology (e.g. smart phones, iPads, Android tablets, netbooks) and how schools can make the most use of the expanding ability of our students to be engaged in learning no matter where they are or what time of day it is.  It is likely that there will be a steady effort to deploy these types of devices (or have students bring in what they already own) in ways that enhance what is already happening in the classroom.  These types of technologies and the ability to congregate a multitude of resources and communication mediums in the palm of one’s hand will be continually influencing numerous aspects of K-12 education and staff development at an accelerated rate. 
 
MCA – III Math Test(s):  Students in grades 3-8 have completed the first round of the new MCA-III Math online test (there are 3 testing opportunities this year).  The first round results from our students suggest that we may be on track to make some legitimate gains over the course of this school year compared to the state average.  Students who miss the proficiency standard are able to take the test up to 3 times.  I would like to commend the principals and teaching staff for the effort that has been put into plans for those students who need further remediation before taking the test a second or third time.  Note:  The State of Minnesota’s NCLB waiver application to the federal government includes provisions to return to only one test for the 2012-2013 school year.
 
 
I would like to publically commend the students, staff, parents, and community members that contribute in so many ways to make our schools and community a great place to be!  2011-2012 is shaping up to be a great year.  Finish Strong!
 
Go Gophers!
 
E. Harris
Superintendent

 

 

 
February 2012
 
It is hard to believe that spring is already on it's way.  As a District, we are poised to continue current efforts to serve the students of Chatfield to the best of our ability as well as lay the foundation for some exciting directions in 2012-2013 and beyond. Here are some items of interest relating to student achievement, curriculum, and staff development that should be noted.
 
The 6A curriculum and common assessment project will continue with a special focus on reading and math skill development at every grade level and in every content area. This project is an examination of our curriculum(s) and how well they align to the state standards.  The goal is to routinely examine student assessment data on a regular basis and adjust instruction accordingly. 
 
At this time, we are considering an expansion of the current literacy initiatives to include a comprehensive intervention strategy that will enable our staff to efficiently respond to the new state mandate that every child will read at grade level by 3rd grade. To do this, we are putting together a curriculum and staff development advisory committee that will assist in strategic planning that supports improvement programs at the building and district level. Additionally, this committee will play a key role in developing a new teacher evaluation program that has also been mandated by recent legislation. The new teacher evaluation system must include student achievement measures of growth and be in place for the 2014-2015 school year.  I look forward to working with the staff to develop a tool that supports teacher development, the use of best practices, and a system that assists new teachers in fully developing their potential as they join the District.
 
Recently, our secondary teachers visited their counterparts in Dover-Eyota to exchange curriculum and instruction ideas. We look forward to future opportunities to construct new partnerships with neighboring school districts that have the potential to be mutually beneficial.
 
New this spring will be a trial for the Math MCA III state test that can now be taken up to three times by students in grades 3-8 if they do not meet the proficiency standard. For the first time, student performance on the test will be immediately available to school districts so that intervention strategies can be deployed between test administrations in the same year. At this time we are making a plan to utilize these opportunities to give our students the best chance to demonstrate their learning and offer real time data to teachers so that instruction can be individualized to the greatest degree possible. In the coming weeks, the building principals will be communicating with parents and students about the details of the new Math MCA III testing format.
 
I want to commend the teachers, support staff, principals, and school board on their efforts thus far this year. We have made great progress in a number of areas and are well situated to respond to the changing needs of our students. As we enter the spring season, we will finalize the priorities for the school district and align the available resources as efficiently as possible. In recent months, several people have made unsolicited comments to me about how special this community and school district is. This community works hard to preserve the quality of life in the Chosen Valley. As a school district, we will do our best to contribute to that effort.
 
Go Gophers!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Friday, November 11 2011
 
 
After running the gamut of emotions preceding the outcome of the election it took me a while to amass my thoughts.  By now, most people who are familiar with my style of writing know that they usually have to wade through a slough of details before the key statement is brought forth or the point is made in some clever way.  Not this time.

  

I want to thank everyone who had any type of role in the referendum process.  This has been a tremendous amount of work and a great example of what can get done if good people rally around a worthy cause.  To all of you who took a minute and passed some election information on to a friend, neighbor or family member, thank you.  Over 1200 community members came out to express their opinion of the school district by voting on this referendum.  We can be proud that a majority of them feel good enough about what we do to offer even more support than they have already given.  It is the little things that we all do every day that build relationships with people (adults and children).  How well we do that over time shows up when we are in need and ask for something that is not normally given freely.  Thank you and feel good that at least for the next few years the school district has been stabilized by the good will of the community.  It is our job to make sure that we are reciprocating that generosity every day by treating each child as if they are our own and resolving conflicts as if it were with a dear friend.
 
I know that I speak for the students, parents, staff, and the school board when I say Thank You for Your Support!  Schools and communities depend upon one another for strength.  That bond is often tested and can be maintained if people act in good faith and commit to the task at hand.  I believe in the Chatfield community and feel blessed to be a part of it.
 
Edward J. Harris
Superintendent
 

 

 

 

  
 

 

  

Chatfield Public Schools Referendum

 

 

General Information

On November 8, a school election will be held to ask the community for renewed financial support and additional funds to maintain our current staff and program levels through what is likely to be several years of budgetary uncertainty.  Over the course of the past 10 years, the gap between state aid for schools and inflation has grown to nearly 13%.  What this means is that the State of Minnesota has not provided funds to fully maintain educational programs.  Local communities have had to pick up the slack if they want to keep pace with the demands of educating kids in the 21st century and ensure the vitality of their schools.  This is the primary reason why over 90% of the schools in the state have operating levies in place and why there are more school districts holding elections this fall compared to any other year in the last decade.  Over 120 school districts are asking their communities to support critical renewals of current operating levies and/or increases in funding to balance budgets that are short of revenue.  As is the case in Chatfield, these schools have likely already cut staff and programs that impact kids and are hopeful that they can hold the line if their communities respond favorably on election day. 

 
As we have been in the past, Chatfield Schools continue to be good stewards of the tax dollar as we plan for future years.  Chatfield ranks 306 out of 340 Minnesota school districts in terms of how much money per student is spent annually from the general fund to educate kids.  This means two things (1) we are not over spending on educational costs and (2) there is no “fat” in the budget. 
 
When Chatfield’s current operating levy expires this year, a budget deficit will be created that will result in the need for more budget cuts and more expensive referendum requests in subsequent years if replacement revenue is not approved on November 8.  After reviewing the community survey results from last spring and spending a great deal of time tuning our enrollment and budget projection system, we are confident that the current request of renewing the existing operating levy ($350 per student – ballot question 1) and adding an increase ($250 per student – ballot question 2) is the most cost effective way for taxpayers to support the current level of academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students over the course of the next several years. 
 
There are still some lingering questions about how we can afford to work on facilities such as ball fields, sidewalks, landscaping, and tiling when we are asking for financial support from the community through operating levies.  The answer is that the funds we have been using for facility projects were funds saved due to favorable markets and bid outcomes from the construction project that produced the new elementary school and updates to the high school.  At this time, there is about $30,000 left in the construction fund that is scheduled to be spent by spring.  By law, those voter approved monies can only be spent on facilities. Facility construction funds cannot be used to pay general operating expenses. 
 
The general operating budget is where nearly all of the funds come from to support the annual costs of teaching, learning, utilities and keeping the buildings open.  While many districts in the state have received community support to build schools that are energy efficient and support student learning now and into the future, additional operating funds are still needed to maintain basic learning programs needed to develop future skills for students.  I would be happy to talk with anyone who would like more clarification about school budgets and the statutes guiding district financial decisions.
 
 
State Budget:  New Revenues
 
There has been some discussion lately around the region about the additional revenues that schools will be receiving as a result of the new state budget.  Some of the discussion is misleading in terms of how much schools are actually receiving.  In a recent article, Chatfield was shown to be receiving $282 of “new” revenue per pupil (PPU) from the state budget.  What the article did not indicate was that this was “potential” revenue.  In order to receive about $118 PPU of the $282 PPU, Chatfield Schools would first have to create new costs or direct funds to programs that are already underfunded.  So, there is no help from the $118 PPU in terms of addressing the upcoming revenue shortfall and maintaining current programs. 
 
While we are certainly grateful for new revenue, the additional $145,000 over two years does not solve the problem of the growing gap between funding and costs.  With the new revenue included, the current two-year budget deficit projection for Chatfield is about $900,000 (this figure includes the loss of the existing operating levy revenue and the maintenance of current educational and operational budgets).  However, the new revenue did allow the school board to decrease the amount asked from taxpayers in the second ballot question from $400 PPU to $250 PPU.  For this, we are certainly appreciative.
 
 
State Budget Changes:  Homestead Tax Credit Removed and Property Tax Capacity Adjusted
 
Property owners should be aware that legislators removed the homestead tax credit as a cost saving measure for the state when the budget was approved in final negotiations.  As a part of this year’s legislation, the state also adjusted the tax capacities for property owners.  This two-fold plan was intended to hold taxpayers harmless (not raise their taxes).  That is not the result.  Cities and school districts may levy the same amount of money as last year, but because the state lowered the tax capacity, some property owners may experience a modest increase.  Preliminary estimates indicate a change of less than $2 per month due to the removal of the Homestead Tax Credit by the state legislature.  Although the impact of this appears negligible, it bears noting in an effort to separate school referendum impacts from state budget outcomes.
 
 
Debt Service Levy
 

Property owners may have noticed some small variations in the debt service levy over the past two years.  The debt service levy is what covers the annual payments for voter approved debt (building projects).  It is projected that the debt service levy will stabilize this coming year at a level that should be predictable for the foreseeable future.  This new level of stabilization will be less than what property owners paid in 2009 but more than 2010.   

 

 

 

<September 2014>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
316
7
9
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
10
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
11
Thursday, September 11, 2014
13
14
18
Thursday, September 18, 2014
20
Saturday, September 20, 2014
21
23
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
27
Saturday, September 27, 2014
28
30
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
2
Thursday, October 2, 2014
4
Saturday, October 4, 2014
5891011

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014