Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Why is it important to investigate and vote on your school's referendum?

There are times when our schools ask us to vote on their operating levies. Many times when we hear that the school is asking for more money, we grumble about raising our property taxes and the schools not handling money correctly. We wonder why they would need money for such silly projects. I'm just as guilty of doing these things, but this year I am working in a district that has an operating levy on the ballot. After walking through some of the schools, listening to the superintendent explain the needs (not wants) that the money would cover, and how taxes would not increase, I've changed my mind. I never got informed about the school levies I voted on in the past. I would consider the little bit of hearsay I had heard and vote based on that. I have voted yes, and I have voted no. Now that I have actually gotten some information on the levy in my current district, I have come to the realization that we need to be more informed when voting on these levies.

When you are considering whether to vote on a levy, it is important to gather some information: How will this affect my tax rate? What will the money be spent on? Is this a need or a want? Is this something I would support? What are the plans to accomplish the goals of this levy? These are all important questions to ask of the district officials and of yourself. To gather answers to these questions, visit your district website. More than likely they will have some information posted in regards to the levy. If they have information meetings regarding the levy, attend several to get the most information and best understanding. Talk to your neighbors and friends and get their thoughts. Finally, spend some time thinking about what your answer will be.


If you live in the Monticello School District, please vote yes for our operating levy. All of the items it would cover are needs. You can learn more here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pinewood Elementary Named a "Reward School"

The school I am now working at was just named a Minnesota Reward School! I am so excited to be working in such a great school! The designation of "Reward School" is given to Title I schools that score in the top 15% of the Multiple Measurements Rating. This means that our students have scored well on tests demonstrating exceptional student outcomes. This also means that the school has been successful in closing achievement gaps. There are a number of reasons that schools reach this achievement.

Title I is a federal funding program that provides funding to help provide for academic support for students that may be at risk for any number of reasons. This funding is mostly based on the socio-economic status of the area. Title I funds are used to purchase books for schools, provide trainings, and fund salaries for reading teachers. Title I teachers help the disadvantaged students to succeed. Title I was developed in 1965. These funds certainly help our students to perform better, but there are other factors as well.

In the week since I started working in the Monticello School District, I have seen how all the staff are committed to providing students with the best education possible. This starts with the very dedicated superintendent and goes all the way down to the cafeteria workers, custodians, and paraprofessionals. The district is determined to hire the only the best individuals. I think they have succeeded. This dedication to building a positive learning environment no doubt makes a huge difference in helping the students to achieve.

Other factors that I believe make a difference in schools includes various specialists carrying on the teaching from the classroom, a supportive curriculum director, lots of staff development, and community involvement.