Schools closed remainder of school year

The Governor has ordered all Minnesota schools to remain closed with distance learning in place through the end of the 2019-2020 school year to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

180 days to make a difference for our students

Talk of the District with Superintendent Pontrelli
August 19, 2019

I just hung my new 2019-2020 school calendar on the wall of my office. As I admired the photos of our students, and explored the many events listed each month, I was struck by all that happens in nine short months. Mixed in between the big events on that calendar are countless little moments. Those seconds of laughter when students are completely engaged in a project. That “Aha moment” when a complicated math concept suddenly makes sense. Or those times when students feel valued and heard.

We have just 180 days to teach, motivate, challenge, inspire and develop personal connections with the 8,300 students in our care. Each one of those days is jam packed with a long list of things to get accomplished. We have standards to meet. Lessons to teach. Meals to serve. Buildings to clean. And while those things are important, I’m very proud to say that in our schools, the kids always come first. 

You won’t see big changes as you come back to school this fall. What you will see is teachers, administrators and support staff more committed than ever to making a difference in the lives of every student. Every day. That’s our motto for the year. It’s emblazoned on a calendar hanging by each staff members desk. And it is at the heart of every decision we make.

For the past several school years we’ve been very intentional about keeping our focus on our students. We’re not the same school district we were five or ten years ago. We’re less about buildings, programs and standardized test scores, and more about students, relationships and meaningful experiences. We know kids learn best when they’re engaged in their learning, and when they feel safe and valued as individuals. The efforts we’re making to support social and emotional learning and mental health is being recognized at both the state and national level. We’re also a national leader in innovation work. This is an excellent school district. We are doing incredible things. 

Yet, there are still difficult conversations to be had and decisions to be made in the coming year. Budgets are tight. Our operating levy will be expiring in just two short years and will need voter support to be renewed. Facilities are in need of improvement. Some areas of the district are experiencing rapid growth. As leaders, we don’t always agree on the best ways to move forward. There will be debate and discussion in the days ahead, and we will continue to engage our community to develop solutions to the challenges ahead.

And while those conversations take place, so too will the learning. Because the one thing we can all agree on it that our students come first. They have just 180 days with us and it is up to each of us to make every one of those days matter.

Thank you for trusting us with your children and for all that you do as a community to help support them all year long. 

Go Ponies!