School District 197 Superintendent Blog
Welcome to my blog! The purpose of the blog is to provide an avenue for communication with parents and community members. I will be sharing our progress in implementing the District Strategic Framework. Periodically I will also post photos and share news of special events that I attend in our schools.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

School Board Election

Dear Friends and Families of School District 197,

A general election for the school board of West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area Schools (School District 197) will be held on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  At that election, three members will be elected to the School Board for terms of four (4) years each. 

Candidates who have filed for election for School Board are as follows:
  • John Chandler
  • Dewayne Dill 
  • Matthew Klein
  • Stephanie Levine
I urge you to vote for your choice of school board members.  As a public school, District 197 is governed by you, the public, through the officials you elect.  The school board sets the direction of the district and allocates resources accordingly, which is no small task for a district with  4,780 students and a $54 million dollar budget.    

Should you need assistance in finding key information about voting, you may go to
Simply enter your address to locate your precinct.  If you have any questions, you may also contact Kathy Mutch at 651-403-7002.


Nancy Allen-Mastro
Superintendent, School District 197

Monday, October 21, 2013

Parent Ambassador Network

Dear Friends and Families of District 197,

I am pleased to tell you about this year's PAN.  PAN stands for our Parent Ambassador Network.  PAN is a group of parents from each of our schools who meet with me monthly to keep the lines of communication open between home and school and between schools.  I count on PAN to keep me in the loop on what's on parents' minds.  I also count on them to give me feedback that helps guide my decision-making.  We will be discussing a variety of topics throughout the year.

This year PAN has agreed to host a school board candidate forum, scheduled for this week on Thursday, October 24th at 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. in the Post-Secondary Success Center, located on the third floor of Henry Sibley High School.  All four individuals running for school board will be in attendance and will answer questions from the PAN as well as take audience questions.  The link below provides you with additional information on the forum:

Here is a list of PAN members.  Thank you to each of them for giving their time to making our district one of the finest in the metro area!

Michelle Anderson, Early Learning
Darcy McKenzie, Somerset Elementary
Ted Kronschnabel, Mendota Elementary
Kim Reisig, Garlough Environmental Magnet School
Kris Klein, Heritage Environmental-STEM Middle School
Joanne Binder, Heritage Environmental-STEM Middle School
Brenda Lawrence, Pilot Knob STEM Magnet School
Aline Kies, Moreland Arts and Health Sciences Magnet School
Terry Stamman, Friendly Hills Middle School
Magda Forouhari, Friendly Hills Middle School
Holly Brod-Farber, Henry Sibley High School


Nancy Allen-Mastro
Superintendent, School District 197

Friday, October 4, 2013

Early Learning in District 197

Dear Friends and Families of District 197,

Today, schools no longer think of themselves as K-12 institutions.  Many are surprised to know we serve children from birth to age 21.  An area in which school districts have especially expanded programming in recent years is in early learning.  

So much happens during the first five years of a child's development.  The massive intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development that is underway is staggering. The importance of creating a stimulating, safe, and playful environment for our young children is well-documented.  Our desire as a district is to provide whatever assistance we can to children and their families during this critical growth period.

To that end, in school District 197 we have a robust early learning program that has been growing and expanding on a variety of fronts.  Currently we have five early learning programs:  Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE), Community Preschool, School Readiness, Early Childhood Screening, and Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE).  These programs are funded through fees, reimbursement from the State of Minnesota, or State and Federal dollars for children who qualify for special education.

We have 50 staff who provide programming.  To give you an example of how many students participate in early learning, please take a look at the following:

  • 266 regular education and special education students in our Community Preschools (42 of those are also in Early Childhood Special Education) 
  • 492 students were screened for educational readiness last year
  • 183 children were served in Early Childhood Family Education last year  
  • 155 parents were served in Early Childhood Family Education last year
  • 130 students were served in Early Childhood Special Education

That's a total of 537 children (not counting the children screened), which is no small number!

In our Strategic Framework, we state our commitment to deliver high impact early learning opportunities to our families.  Our programs have grown gradually, and as they have expanded they have been located in whatever space was available in our schools.  We are also experiencing enrollment growth in our K-12 population. As our enrollment has grown (and continues to grow) we are running out of room.  It is time to find a designated home for our early learners.  It is no longer an add-on program that we can tuck in here and there.  Our programs serve an important need in preparing students for school success.  Identifying and committing to designated space for at least 10 years will ensure it continues to flourish so our students can thrive.

Last night we hosted a community engagement session to hear from our constituents on how they'd like to see us move forward in finding designated space for early learning.  There is no simple solution. In a school district our size, no one thing can be evaluated in isolation.  We have a variety of programming and facility interests that need to be considered in the conversation.  Thank you to the parents who were able to attend. Your point of view matters to us, and we were pleased with the quality of the dialogue.      

There is no more important responsibility than raising our children.  It truly does take a village to position them for academic, social, physical, and emotional success.  We want to be there for them every step of the way.  A few weeks ago I attended our Community Baby Shower in our Early Childhood Family Education program at Mendota Elementary, a semi-annual event to welcome new arrivals into our school community.  I am attaching several of the photos I snapped of some of our future students and their proud parents! Welcome, Little Ones!


Nancy Allen-Mastro