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Board reviews Vision One91 proposal, will consider funding requests

At its meeting on Oct. 23, the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 Board of Education heard a comprehensive overview of Vision One91, a plan for the future to ensure the district's mission of "Each Student Real-World Ready." Board members also heard about possible funding options to make that vision a reality.

Vision One91 is based on input received by Superintendent Joe Gothard during more than a year of parent and student conversations, community forums, staff meetings and PTO meetings.

While the school board has been receiving ongoing reports about Vision One91 as it has been developing over the past several months, Thursday night’s presentation was the first review of two possible ballot questions to provide the financial resources it would require.

Vision One91 is about redesigning our district to better meet the needs of today's learners,” said Gothard. “It’s the way to make sure their hopes and dreams for a bright future are realized and that they are ready for success in a competitive global economy.”

The board meeting included presentations by:

  • Assistant Superintendent Cindy Amoroso, who discussed how Vision One91 would create the right learning environment for students of all ages and positively impact daily classroom experiences. She explained how shifting to K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 schools would not only address the special social and emotional needs of middle school students, but would also reinforce the fact that 9th grade academic performance really matters for graduation and is a critical part of any post-secondary education application.
  • Director of Technology Doug Johnson, who explained how technology used to be a “nice to have” extra but has now become a “have to have” to increase learning opportunities for all students and provide staff with the support they need to maximize technology use in the classroom.
  • Executive Director of Business Services Lisa Rider, who outlined the estimated costs to implement Vision One91 and explained what financial tools the district has available, including two possible school funding requests on a special election on Feb. 24, 2015.

The four parts of Vision One91:

1) Organize our schools to best support learning and ensure each student graduates real-world ready:

  • Realign grades and schools to K-5, 6-8, 9-12 to match current best practices and state standards. This would move 6th graders from elementary schools to middle schools, and move 9th graders from junior highs to high school.
  • Remodel some elementary schools to enlarge some kindergarten classrooms to meet district standards and to make space for more early childhood classrooms where possible; remove aging portable classrooms at William Byrne and replace with a classroom addition to provide appropriate classrooms for those students.
  • Close the senior campus and add classrooms at Burnsville High School to provide adequate learning spaces for up to 2,800 students in grades 9-12 – a shift from the current 2,080 students in grades 10-12 who attend BHS today, including seniors who now spend half of their day at a separate building.
  • Build an Activity Center at Burnsville High School to expand the curricular, extra-curricular activities/athletics, and community activities available to both students and residents.

2) Improve security for a safer learning environment:

  • Create secure entries in schools that don't already have them.
  • Upgrade surveillance cameras

3) Relocate programs and repurpose offices for effectiveness and efficiency:

  • Move BEST (District 191’s transition program for 18- to 21-year-old students with disabilities) and related programs from leased space into district-owned building to reduce lease costs.
  • Consolidate districtwide employees in Diamondhead Education Center for a more integrated and efficient work environment.
  • Repurpose district-owned Diamondhead Education Center to provide expanded early childhood learning space, expanded classrooms for Adult Basic Education and additional space for professional development for staff members.

4) Increase technology to enhance classroom teaching and learning:

  • Student resources – equitable access to technology, online individualized learning plans, portable wireless hubs.
  • Classroom resources – online curriculum and learning systems, E-books, course management systems.
  • Teacher resources – on-going training and support.
  • School and district resources – infrastructure to support technology use in schools, classrooms and districtwide

While the school district can pay for some portions of Vision One91 through existing funds, it will require community support to be fully realized. Two proposed ballot questions were presented to provide the major funding needed:

  1. Bond referendum of $63 to $70 million (amount not determined yet) – the first one proposed since Harriet Bishop Elementary in Savage was built in the late 1990s – to fund the cost of re-aligning schools to K-5, 6-8 and 9-12, paying for expanding early childhood spaces, security upgrades and relocating programs and offices.
  2. Technology levy – a “capital project levy” – to provide $2.5 million per year for 10 years to provide critical technology for students, classrooms, staff and the district.

At its next meeting on Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m., the Board of Education will make a final decision about whether to put the two school funding requests before voters in a special election on Feb. 24, 2015. Board meetings take place at Diamondhead Education Center, 200 W. Burnsville Pkwy, Burnsville. They are aired on local cable channels, live-streamed from the school district’s website and also archived there.

To learn more about Vision One91, go to www.isd191.org/vision191

Posted: Friday, October 24, 2014 - 11:19