Thursday, April 28, 2011

Community invited to help rank budget priorities

Community invited to help rank budget priorities
Three meetings have been scheduled for community members to give input to the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 Board of Education on the priorities for spending a portion of the district’s budget reserve.

Each meeting will include an overview of the current budget situation.  The proposed budget changes will have an impact on Sioux Trail and I encourage you to be a part of this process. Then, participants will meet in small groups to review and prioritize a list of about 15 possible add-ins that the Board could make.

On May 5, the Board will receive an initial budget from Superintendent Randy Clegg based on projected state funding for the 2011-12 school year. Board members have the option to use a portion of the district’s $8 million reserve to add back some items, so they are seeking input on what priorities should be. The Board has used budget reserves of about $3 million a year for the past two years to balance the budget in light of zero increases in state aid, which provides about 80% of the district’s revenue.

Public meetings will take place:
  • Monday, May 9, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at Burnsville City Hall (lower level), 100 Civic Center Parkway;
  • Tuesday, May 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Cedar School, 2140 Diffley Drive, Eagan;
  • Wednesday, May 11, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Savage City Hall, 6000 McColl Drive.
A survey will be available on the district website at in early May. Input is also being gathered from employees. Please call the district office 952.707.2000 or Sioux Trail  at 952.707.3300 with questions.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Minnesota Math Corps

Sioux Trail Elementary School needs a Minnesota Math Corps (MMC) tutor for the 2011-12 school year.  The position starts in August, but we're recruiting now!  MMC tutors are part the AmeriCorps program and provide service to the community much like a Peace Corps volunteer does overseas. Please read on for more information and please pass the word to anyone who might be interested!

You care about education, your community and Sioux Trail! And you hope that when kids finish the school year, their lives will be better than before they arrived. With Minnesota Math Corps, you can leave a lasting mark in many students’ lives as well as your career.

MMC is a program that is working to ensure that students are algebra-ready by the end of 8th grade. We do this by training and placing AmeriCorps members in elementary, middle and junior high schools in various locations. 

In just eleven months of service, you’ll not only tutor students who need your academic support; you’ll also make a meaningful connection with Sioux Trail and your community. As a member of MMC – a rapidly expanding program - you’ll connect with educators in your own community and experts in mathematics education who will help you guide Sioux Trail students toward math proficiency by the end of 8th grade. In addition, all members also engage in their communities outside of their tutoring services.

All members receive extensive training, expand your skills, learn proven mathematics instruction methods and gain valuable experience. In appreciation for your service, you’ll receive a modest living allowance, education award of up to $5,550 and other benefits if eligible. All necessary training is provided and no licensure is necessary.

Employment start date: August 2011

Employment end date: June 30, 2012

Compensation: FT: Biweekly stipend of $500 and education award of $5,550. PT: Biweekly stipend of $250 and education award of $2,775.

Math Enrichment Tutors work with pairs of fourth through eighth graders who are struggling with math. They follow a curriculum and conduct progress monitoring to ensure their students are proficient in algebra by eighth grade. They are placed in elementary, middle or junior high schools and commit to daytime hours.

·          Strong interest in education, specifically helping youth develop math skills
·          Experience working with children, preferably with elementary or middle school ages or as math tutor
·          Dedication to community service
Computer skills, including the ability to navigate and use online database systems and e-mail
·          Speak, read, and write English
·          Responsible, organized, flexible, motivated, professional
·          Excellent oral and written communication skills
·          Ability to make a commitment to complete 11 months of service (August ’11 – June 30, 2012)
·          High school diploma or GED and must be at least 18-years-old U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien
·          Preferred: College coursework, college degree, or equivalent work experience

How do I apply? Positions for the 2011-12 school year begin next August. To read more about the program, including full position descriptions, and to apply, visit Questions? Contact or 866-859-2825.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Minnesota Math Corps

I recently received a letter notifying me that Sioux Trail Elementary School would be a Minnesota Math Corps (MMC) site for the 2011-12 school year. This is an exciting announcement for Sioux Trail and it will provide direct assistance to support Sioux Trail students in grades 4-6 who are below grade level in mathematics. Sioux Trail received a grant award for one full time tutor for the 2011-12 school year.

MMC members help 4th - 8th grade students who need assistance with math. The program trains members in research-based math instruction methods and places them in sites such as elementary and middle schools. In addition, members participate in AmeriCorps programming including engaging volunteers and personal and professional development training. Learn more about becoming a Minnesota Math Corps member for the 2011-2012 program year, or learn more about the Minnesota Math Corps program.

I need your help!  We have the position, but we need to recruit a pool of candidates to do the work at Sioux Trail.  Please share this  opportunity with anyone who might be interested and encourage them to go to the Minnesota Math Corps website.  The position is similar to Peace Corps work, but it is in the United States and in our community.  There is a small stipend and educational award that is provided to the tutor.

Please pass the word about this opportunity at Sioux Trail Elementary!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

MCA Testing

The MCAs (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments) are starting soon for Sioux Trail students.  These are state mandated assessments for students in grades 3-6 (at the elementary level). While the tests are a snapshot of student academic achievement the Minnesota Department Education uses the scores to make a lot of decisions.  The test results provide information on individual students and they are also used to determine the academic progress of Sioux Trail.  All Sioux Trail staff work to prepare to students throughout the school year.  Before we begin taking the final preparation I wanted to provide suggestions to help make MCA test taking a successful experience for Sioux Trail students and Sioux Trail families. Similar information was also sent home in Sioux Trail Touches Home on Friday, April 8.

Little Steps to Bigger Success: Please take time to review this information with your child. 
  • Grades 3 and 4 MCA Reading Tests are scheduled for April 12th and April 13th. 
  • Grades 5 and 6 MCA Reading Tests are scheduled for April 15th and April 16th. 
  • Grade 3-6  Math tests are computer based and are scheduled for May. Watch for more details!
Test Preparation; Test-Taking Tips

When you take a test, you are demonstrating your understanding and knowledge through questions or by performing certain tasks.  

These suggestions can help you perform at your best.

BEFORE MCA Testing at Sioux Trail:
  • Get to bed “early” – get a full night’s rest (8-10 hours/night) one, or even better two, nights before the day of the test.
  • Eat a “good” breakfast the morning of the test – your brain needs food, particularly protein and fruit (protein = egg, nuts, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.)  Avoid sugary food, and do drink plenty of water as well.
  • Wear “comfortable” clothes – wear warm clothes that are in layers so you can take a layer(s) off if too warm,  and put them on if you get chilly.
  • Don’t talk about the test to other students just before it - anxiety is contagious!  

DURING MCA testing at Sioux Trail:

  • ·   Read the directions slowly and carefully!  This seems obvious, but helps avoid careless errors.
  • ·   Be comfortable but alert, and maintain good posture.
  • ·   Stay relaxed and confident, believing that you are well prepared for success.
  • ·   If you feel anxious, take several slow, deep breaths to relax.
  • ·   Review your test when you think you’ve done everything once.  Did you answer all the questions? Check for simple mistakes.
  • ·   Proof read your writing for spelling, grammar, punctuation, decimal points, etc.  Does it make sense and look perfect?
 Thank you helping Sioux Trail students do their best on the MCAs!

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Difficult Conversations

    This post was written on Tuesday, April 5.

    Today was a difficult day.  Three Sioux Trail teachers who have dedicated themselves to student success were laid off today.  The purpose of my writing isn't to blame; if I did that the list would be long.  My purpose is to call attention to the system and to let readers know about changes that are happening.

    As you all know the Minnesota legislature has not completed a budget yet and because education funding is significant portion of this budget school districts can't plan their budgets for 2011-12.  In addition our Superintendent is sending the ISD 191 School Board a proposed balanced budget.  In previous years the school district has used funds from the fund reserve, stimulus funds or other sources to supplement the revenue from taxes.  A balanced budget is the fiscally responsible way to manage a budget, but it is tough when you see the impact of balancing the budget and /or lacking funding details from the legislature on the faces of dedicated teachers.

    The process is much slower this year than it has been in previous years.  Around this time in previous years I would have been giving updates to Sioux Trail staff and then sharing details with the Sioux Trail PTO and our families about estimated class sizes and teaching assignments.  I do not anticipate any of that information being available for some time to come.

    As always I'm willing to answer questions and provide any information that I can.  I would also encourage anyone who is interested to share thoughts with your school board.  These folks are the decision makers and they represent the taxpayers of ISD 191.