Category Archives: Strategic Planning

EMID Board Meets on 9/18

While Crosswinds and Harambee are of to a fantastic start this year, we are still counting on the EMID board to support their work during this transitional year. According to the board packet, the EMID Board will be getting an update on the schools, considering models of parent engagement, and discussing changes in the management contract with Perpich for Crosswinds. This meeting will be on Wednesday, 9/18 at 5:30pm at Harambee. Please join other families there and let the board know we continue to care about our schools and expect their support of that work.

If you would like to be involved in EMID Families organizing, we will be having a meeting of our own prior to this board meeting. All are welcome at 3pm on Sunday 9/15 at 3pm. We will be gathering in conference room B of the Stafford Branch of the Washington County Library.

Superintendent suggests families come to EMID Board meeting

This week Superintendent Janet Mohr and EMID finance officer Shari Thompson shared with families at Harambee and Crosswinds the same financial briefing they gave to the EMID Board last month:

Shari made it very clear that the district is still in severe financial straits. While our budget cuts to the schools have made it possible for the schools to stay open this year, the district will still run a $1.8 million deficit. This will leave us with only $900,000 dollars in our general fund balance at the end of the year. Obviously, we could not run the district this way for even one more year without running out of funds. Shari noted that contributors to our deficit were declining enrollment at Crosswinds, the geographical distance between our sites, the size of our schools, the fact that our’s are schools of choice without a traditional community supporting them, and the lack of levy authority. She also added “sustainability into the future” as a financial challenge, which highlights the fact that our board has refused to build a sustainable financial model for the schools.

The Superintendent stressed that now is the time for families to get involved. Although she shared no specific plan of action, she did suggest families should at least come to the board meetings and make their voices heard. She noted that the next board meeting will be this coming Wednesday, 10/17 at Crosswinds. The board will discuss the budget during their work session at 5:30pm, the public will have a chance to participate in an open forum shortly after 6pm, then the board will act on an “Authorization for Administration to Discuss Educational Options for EMID Schools, Programs, and Services with Member District Administration”. The board packet for this meeting has some more details, it says:

The Board will discuss authorizing administration to seek alternative educational options and provide information that may be available for Harambee and Crosswinds facilities with member districts within the collaborative of the East Metro Integration District.

What are these “alternative educational options”? We may learn at the work session. It seems like our only chance to respond may be the open forum on Wednesday. This may be an important meeting to attend if you are concerned about the future of our schools.

EMID Board meets 8/22 to discuss strategic plan

The EMID board will hold a work session and board meeting this evening. The strategic and operational plans will be discussed. Today’s meetings will be at Harambee. The work session will be from 5:00-6:30pm and include:

  • Review and refinement of Strategic Roadmap
  • Discussion of Operational Plan – Stages of Development
  • Director of Equity and Educational Services Vacancy
  • Organizational Plan for Coordination of Member Services

The regular board meeting will start at 6:30pm and include a discussion of the work of Dennis Cheesebrow who has been serving as a consultant to the board on their efforts to “refine the work of EMID.” They will be considering whether to authorize an expansion of his work. Since there has been no communication of this work to families, it is hard to say what the impact of such a decision would be.

Documents to review for EMID Community Council on 3/3

Dr. Robicheau shared three documents this week that those attending the Community Council meeting this week should take some time to review. Two of these documents are a result of an analysis of the data that was collected at the February 4 Community Council meeting. The first document is a listing of the major themes from the discussion that was held during small groups. The second document is a draft of strategies that are recommended to address the overarching themes. According to Robicheau, this is a draft document that is still in its development stage. The third document is the Guiding Change document approved by the School Board last December.

The next Community Council meeting is this Saturday, March 3, from 8:30am-Noon at Harambee. Everyone is welcome, even if you were not able to attend the first meeting.

During this Community Council meeting Robicheau will be asking participants to respond to and discuss the following questions regarding the draft strategies:

  1. Do the draft strategies address the overarching goals; a) close the racially predictable achievement gap, b) foster an integrated learning environment?
  2. Do the draft strategies reflect the values of EMID?
  3. Do the draft strategies honor the Guiding Change Document approved by the board?
  4. Do the draft strategies honor the input from the February 4 Community Council?
  5. Do you see any gaps in this document? What recommendations would you offer?

Everyone in the EMID community is welcome to both meetings, whether you have “signed up” for the Community Council or not. However, if you have not yet signed up it would be very helpful if you let either your principal, Dr. Robicheau, or Sharon Radd know you plan to be there. The administration is trying to get a good count so they can have the space prepared adequately.

Update: On Thursday March 1 Robicheau shared these further docTable 6 Small Groups 2-4.pdfuments from the first Community Council meeting. “This is the feedback from the flip charts complied at the February 4th Community Council meeting. Each document represents one tables notes.” These additional documents may be a response to criticism leveled at the process from some participants stating that the “themes” shared earlier (above) did not seem to represent the output from the first meeting.

Join the “Community Council,” all welcome 2/4 and 3/3

Now that we know that EMID has to take a 10% budget cut, how will we do this while keeping the schools effective and the district of service to its members? You can help develop and recommend a final plan to the EMID Board that satisfies requirements of the Integration Plan and Strategic Plan in collaboration with EMID Administrators. The Community Council will be responsible for developing a plan that focuses on programs and services of EMID.

Two meeting dates have been set for this Community Council. To evening commitments we all have, the administration has scheduled these for two Saturday mornings: February 4 at Crosswinds and March 3 at Harambee. The meetings will be held from 8:30–12.

Everyone in the EMID community is welcome to both meetings, whether you have “signed up” for the Community Council or not. However, if you have not yet signed up it would be very helpful if you let either your principal, Dr. Robicheau, or Sharon Radd know you plan to be there. The administration is trying to get a good count so they can have the space prepared adequately.

These meetings will be facilitated by Interim Superintendent Jerry Robicheau and some EMID board members are likely to be in attendance as well. This is your chance to have a say in the future direction of our schools and the district as a whole.

Read about the EMID strategic planning process for details on how the Community Council fits into the process as a whole.

EMID Board approves 10% budget cut

The EMID board this evening approved a 10% budget cut to the district. 10% was the lowest cut the board considered, they also looked at 15% and 20% cuts. This cut will have to be taken out of our schools, administration, and other programs with the exception of the $700,000 “shared services” fund. Working out the details of what, exactly, a 10% cut means is now in the hands of the EMID administration, which will invite community input through the “Community Council” meetings coming up on 2/4 and 3/3.

However, the budget the board approved would also, as board member John Brodrick put it, “kill the schools after two years.” This is because the budget keeps the cuts low by eating deeply into the EMID operating reserves, money the school needs just to keep its doors open during the course of a normal year. As approved in this budget, this reserve will dip to $900,000 by the end of next year and would disappear altogether before the following year ends.

Brodrick, Kitty Gogins, Jim Gelbmann, and three other members of the board passed an amendment to the budget that tried to address this sustainability issue. The amendment asked board members to discuss the possibility of sending a portion of the levy dollars each student generates to EMID. Finance officer Shari Thompson estimated that 100% of the levy dollars would generate about $1 million per year, so it will be very interesting to see what portion, if any, districts are willing to send to EMID.

Thompson pointed out that until 2008 EMID members did forward all levy funds with the students to EMID schools. In 2008 the board swapped levy funds for more integration funding, but the board always retained the option and the power to collect levy funding from the member districts. Ironically, if a student went to a charter school or a private school, or to any school outside their own district, then the district would loose access to their levy funds anyway since the student would be leaving the district. It is only the fact that EMID is considered part of member districts that allows them to generate levy funds from EMID students in the first place. Yet the districts seem loath to actually allow the students to bring those funds to EMID.

A dozen parents testified to the board this evening, sharing their passion for a sustainable solution and asking the board to work with parents to navigate these difficult times. Many complained of the lack of openness from the board, and Interim Superintendent Robicheau did say he would consider ways to allow open conduct of some board activities.

MPR: Parents worry budget plan could close schools

MPR ran a Tom Weber story today, Parents worry budget plan could close schools, about the EMID budget situation.

Kelly Debrine’s daughter attended Crosswinds. She was surprised by this week’s proposed budget that would move all integration dollars away from the two schools, leaving them to survive on reserves and general state aid — something she said traditional school districts would never have to do.

“It just seems like a mean-spirited move, and it’s unsustainable. And it indicates they have no investment in the schools being a part of the collaborative.”

Board to vote on bleeding EMID dry

Dear EMID Families,

The EMID board has posted its packet of materials for the board meeting taking place this Wednesday, January 25th at 5:30pm at Harambee Elementary School. Among other important pieces of information in that packet, the board will be considering a budget proposal that would reduce funding to EMID in a major way, and to the schools dramatically, using only the “backpack” funding for the schools and sending all of the integration funding to the member districts.

I’m writing to you with two urgent requests.

First, that you write a letter to your board representative ASAP (here are the email addresses for the board: http://www.emidfamilies.org/board, and the email addresses for the district superintendents: http://www.emidfamilies.org/superintendents). We have to let them know, BEFORE THE WEDNESDAY MEETING, that we are concerned about the proposals.

Second, that you attend the board meeting this Wednesday. There will not be much opportunity to speak, but just showing up in person will help the board to see how important this is to us. The meeting will begin at 5:30 pm at Harambee.

Here are the points we’ve talked about to stress to board members and superintendents:

  1. It’s not fair to ask the two EMID schools to absorb such huge cuts to their funding. No regular district schools function solely on the basis of “backpack” funding alone. Why should the board require Harambee and Crosswinds to do so?
  2. EMID is still in the process of doing strategic planning, and the Community Council hasn’t met yet. What is the point of adopting a budget before knowing what the strategic plan for spending those integration funds will be?
  3. With schools all over the state being forced to reduce their spending, we know that there will need to be some cuts to the budgets for Harambee and Crosswinds. But these cuts should be made in a sustainable way. That is, the board voted to keep the schools open, and should fund them in a way that makes that possible. Further, the board should NOT be spending down the reserve funds balance. Doing so essentially says the schools will not be open into the future.
  4. As we’ve said over and over again, we need accountability. What are the individual school districts going to be doing with the integration funds the Board proposes to send to them? Where are their plans? Where is the evidence that sending the money to the districts will have a stronger impact than keeping it in the EMID collaborative where all of the districts together are already accomplishing more than they could alone? The state has allocated integration funds to EMID to do integration. We’ve been doing that really well in EMID in ways that have made the two schools, in particular, models not only here in MN, but also nationally. Why take that apart now?

I know that this is a busy time of year, and you’ve already worked hard to keep these schools open. We won that victory, but if we can’t keep the funds flowing to the schools, that victory won’t mean much in the long run. Please write to your board representative, and to the superintendent of your home district, and urge them to ask the EMID Board to seek other ways to manage their funds.

– Mary Hess

Participating on the “Community Councils”

Jerry Robicheau writes: “Here is what I am sending out to parents who have so far volunteered to participate on the Community Councils. I have 6 from Crosswinds and about the same number from Harambee. Please share what you wish with EMID Community. We will place the dates and location on the web.”

Dear______,

I want to thank you for your willingness to assist with developing the Integration Plan for EMID and Phase 2 of its Strategic Plan. EMID is at a critical time and your participation to assist in developing these 2 plans is essential. I have attached a document that outlines the process that will be used to develop these plans. The process includes the formation of a Community Council. The charge of the Community Council is: Develop and recommend a final plan to the EMID Board that satisfies requirements of the Integration Plan and Strategic Plan in collaboration with EMID Administrators. The Community Council will be responsible for developing a plan that focuses on programs and services of EMID.

We have set the 2 meeting dates for this Community Council. To be respective of the parents evening commitments, we have set the following two Saturdays: February 4 and March 3. The meetings will be held from 8:30-12. The location of the meetings will be determined within the next week. Once that place is set we will let you know. However, we wanted to get the dates out to you so you can get them on your calendar.

I sincerely hope you will assist us in this critical work. You participation is essential in determining the services and program to be available to student in EMIDs Districts. I look forward to you participation on the Community Council.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Jerry W. Robicheau, PH.D.
Interim Superintendent of School
651-379-2701
jerry.robicheau@emid6067.net

Volunteer for the EMID Community Council

If you are interested in being part of the EMID Community Council, please let your school principal know (Bryan Bass at Crosswinds or Kathy Griebel at Harambee). If you do not have a chile attending an EMID school, then please let the Integration Specialist in your district know. Make sure to express your interest before Friday, January 13th.

The Community Council will develop and recommend a final strategic plan to the EMID Board that also can serve as EMID’s new integration plan for the state of Minnesota. It will be made up of parents of student and students attending the magnet schools, parents and community people from the member district, EMID staff, and staff from member districts.

Dr. Robicheau envisions that the Community Council could get quite large, as many as 50 people. Everyone reading the EMID Families list is probably welcome to join. If the group gets to be bigger than envisioned, two groups may be created. The Community Council will probably meet two to three times for two to three hours in the evening between now and the end of February.

Once you have expressed your interest you can expect a personal invitation to serve from Dr. Robicheau. A list of those selected to serve will also be available on the emid6067.org website.