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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.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Financial Stability. Academic Excellence.

District 197 has a lot to be proud of.  Highly qualified teachers, dedicated support personnel, and a committed and supportive community wrap their arms around our students every day.  When these forces come together around a common vision, great things happen for kids.

In the general election on November 8th, we are asking voters to approve the renewal of an operating levy that was first passed in 2007. A second operating levy passed in 2011.  Since the community's approval of these two levies, we have been able to achieve a level of financial stability that the district has not seen in years.  This has been followed by visible increases in academic excellence.

First and foremost, student achievement is trending upward.  Scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) have risen steadily over the past four years. Districtwide, science scores are up by 3.6%.  Reading scores are up by 4.5%, and math scores are up by 7.6%.  Our scores exceed that of our comparable suburban districts in the Twin Cities by as much as 10 percentage points.

Stakeholder satisfaction has also increased for the third straight year in a row, as measured in our annual stakeholder survey conducted by the Morris-Leatherman Company.  In 2016, we saw the following gains:  

  • 92% of residents feel the community receives a good value for its investment in its public schools (up from 82% in 2014; 87% in 2015).
  • 93% of residents are proud of District 197 schools and would recommend them to friends (up from 77% in 2014; 84% in 2015).
  • 94% of residents trust the school board to do what is right for students (up from 84% in 2014; 87% in 2015).
  • 98% of residents feel District 197 provides a safe and secure environment for students (up from 87% in 2014; 91% in 2015).
When measuring parent satisfaction, those ratings run even higher.  More details on our results can be found here

More students are earning college credit in more classes offered right here at Henry Sibley High School, which in turn saves families thousands of dollars in tuition.  Since 2012, we have nearly tripled the number of students taking at least one course for college credit, such as Advanced Placement, College in the Schools, Project Lead the Way, or Post-Secondary Enrollment Options. While student achievement itself is cause for significant celebration, credit earned in University of Minnesota College in the Schools courses last year alone saved families more than $350,000 in tuition!

Eleven students were recognized this fall by the National Merit Scholarship Program for academic achievement, the most students in recent history.  Of those, two were named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists.  One of our finalists even earned a perfect score on his ACT test.  Ninety (90) students were recognized recently as Advanced Placement (AP) Scholars by the College Board for achievement on AP tests last spring.

We are fortunate to have been able to make important investments in some key program areas in recent years.  This includes increasing access to academic interventions for students who need additional support.  We've invested in our K-12 music program and our gifted and talented program. We have added school counselors for students in grades K-12, and we've designed a schedule for learning at our middle schools.  More recently, we have begun to make significant strides towards personalizing learning in a way that will both individualize instruction to meet the unique learning needs of all students and engage them in problem-solving, teamwork, and other high-level skills that will better prepare them to be ready for the career or college of their choice upon graduation.

When added up, these things lead to increasingly higher levels of excellence and achievement.  I've no doubt that our momentum will continue well into the future. As a school district, we may be small, but we are mighty.  Never doubt what our students are capable of and what we can accomplish together.

Please vote on November 8th.  To become more fully informed about our levy renewal request, please visit our district website.  

Proud to be your superintendent,

Nancy Allen-Mastro

Follow me on Twitter @Supt197









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