Archive for January, 2012

Mid-Year Enrollment Reports Are Here

January 31, 2012

From the January 23 meeting;

There are 11,734 students enrolled in Robbinsdale Area Schools as of January 1, 2012 excluding ALC , tuition,
EC, RTC and PSEO students.  Enrollment is 69 (0.6%) students more than enrollment January 2011.  Enrollment
represents 1.5% more students than original budgeted 2011‐12 enrollment projections. The school year began with 80 more students than projected.  Kindergarten enrollment was higher than projected and enrollment at Plymouth and Cooper was also stronger than projected.  Enrollment since the beginning of the school year has remained very strong particularly at the secondary level.  Changes to the discipline and open enrollment policies have contributed to the strong mid‐year enrollment retention.

So what does the future hold?

The district projects 11,794 students will be enrolled January 2013 based on historical data, trends, birth rates
and other assumptions.  The projections indicate an overall modest increase of 0.5% which includes a small
decrease at the high school level.  January 2013 enrollment projections are used to approximate next year’s
ADM.  These projections will be used to develop the 2012‐2013 revenue budget and to staff the schools at
board‐established ratios.  Using these assumptions, enrollment for school years 2013‐16 is projected to be
relatively constant.   

Here are some links to more information;

Mid-Year Enrollment Report

Enrollment Trends

Enrollment Projections

Important Dates Coming Up!

January 31, 2012

February is an important month for parents in this district! Here is a list on events;

Kindergarten Registration Night

Thursday, February 9 (check with your local school for more information)

STEAM Parent Information  Night

Monday, February 13 6pm to 8pm

At Olson Elementary (1751 Kelly Drive in Golden Valley)

Robbinsdale Spanigh Immersion Information Night

Thursday, February 16

Parent Information Night (parents only), 6pm

At the Multi-Purpose room at Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion School, 8808 Medicine Lake Road in New Hope

Get to one of these meetings!

Sicoli Inks New Three-Year Deal

January 18, 2012

Superintendent Aldo Sicoli has agreed to a new three-year with Robbinsdale School District. The deal is largely similar to the one he signed in 2009.  Some highlights;

*Salary will be increased 1.5 % each school year which will be $183,745.00 for the 2012-2013 school year, $186,501.00 for the 2013-2014 school year, and $189,299 for the 2014-2015 school year.

*Contract will begin on July 1, 2012 and go until June 30, 2015.

*The board unanimously agreed to the contract at the January 9 meeting.

*40 working days of annual paid personal time off (PTO) each contract year. Unused days may be carried over from one year to the next and accumulate without limit.

*12 paid holidays are included as well.

If you want to read other bullet points in the contract, they can be found here;

contract 

School: Opposition to Gay Adoption is “Bullying”

January 18, 2012

Check out this from Fox News;

By Todd Starnes

A Wisconsin high school is in the middle of a free speech debate after they apologized for publishing a student essay opposing gay families who adopt children. School officials called the essay a form of “bullying and disrespect.”

The column ran on the editorial page of the Shawano High School student newspaper. It was part of an op-ed featuring a student supporting gay families who adopt children and one opposed to the idea. The student who opposed gay adoptions cited Bible passages that called homosexuality and sin punishable by death. “If one is a practicing Christian, Jesus states in the Bible that homosexuality is (a) detestable act and sin which makes adopting wrong for homosexuals because you would be raising the child in a sin-filled environment,” the student wrote.

You cited the Bible? Oh no, big mistake!

The school district profusely apologized after a gay couple – who has a child at the school – complained.

A couple? One couple?

“This is why kids commit suicide,” Nick Uttecht told the Green Bay Press Gazette. “When I saw this I was in shock.” The school district released a statement apologizing for the story. “Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District,” the statement read. “We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended and are taking steps to prevent items of this nature from happening in the future.”

Todd Carlson, the superintendent of the Shawano School District told Fox News & Commentary he was shocked by the article. “We do apologize,” Carlson said. “We have a responsibility as a school district to make sure we create a positive school climate and culture. This article probably didn’t go along with the policies and the guidelines and the practices that we have as a school district.”

But the school district only took issue with one of the opinion pieces – the one opposed to gays adopting children. That’s because Carlson said the essay is a form of bullying. “It is a form of bullying or disrespect to a group of people – that’s right,” he said. The school district did not comply with a request to read the entire essay – and they declined to say if the student who wrote the essay would be punished.

Really? Why don’t you release the entire essay and let us decide for ourselves if this is “offensive?”

“Our efforts have been placed to make sure that items of this nature don’t happen in the future,” Carlson told Fox News & Commentary. “We have this responsibility to create a positive environment for all.”

However, critics said removing the opinion piece is a form of censorship.

“I hope they won’t squash any political viewpoints because of this,” David Hudson, of the First Amendment Center told USA Today. “Bullying is a serious concern, and I don’t take it lightly. But I hope it doesn’t lead to squashing different viewpoints. I do think (gay adoption) is an issue people are deeply divided about. Hopefully, student journalists don’t have to fear they’ll be squashed if they take a controversial view.”

Trust us, they will only sensor speech if it offends one left-wing person.

Carlson told Fox News & Commentary this is not a case of censorship. “It is not a freedom of speech issue,” he said. “I know some are trying to make it that. It’s our policy that we are concerned about – not to create disrespect and bullying and harassment.”

Harassment? Opposing gay adoption is harassment? So if you don’t believe in gay adoption you are assumed to be a bully? Mr. Carlson you should be fired. Oh wait, you’re a public employee which means you’ll never be fired.

At least one university professor believes the school district did the right thing by apologizing for a student’s personal opinion. “To see something like this debated in the paper could be devastating,” Christine Smith, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay told USA Today.

So you’re not allowed to debate??

“How would you feel if someone said your family is abnormal, is not acceptable, that your parents never should have been allowed to have you, that they’re not suitable to raise you?”

Really “professor?” Why don’t you teach and NOT social engineer!

LAC-DFL Has 2012 Agenda

January 4, 2012

Well District 281’s DFL Party (aka Legislative Action Coalition) has their wonderful agenda for the 2012 legislative session.  Believe it or not, their agenda isn’t as redundant and horrible as usual.  We almost agree with them on a few issues!  There are, however, some serious red flags.

*The state must fully fund special education so that special education students are well served and resources are not diverted from the general fund.

Of course, we are asking for this for the 93rd straight year.  When are we going to realize that the state is not going to “fully fund” (and in 281 ‘s eyes that means automatic increases every year) before we drop this?

*The state should develop a plan to return to a 90-10 funding pattern and begin paying back the funds owed to schools without impacting current funding levels and set criteria for the reporting of the payback.

While we agree that the shift needs to be paid back, we aren’t sure that it’s possible to pay the shift back and have no impact (ie; not prevent increases in the general formula) on current funding.

3) The state must maintain its commitment to equitable and integrated learning environments as reforms are made to the integration revenue program.

Talk about “edu-speak!” Integrated learning? We know Integration aid was a hot topic last year, but we aren’t sure what the LAC is saying right here. What changes do we support? We’ve thrown integration aid at schools for 10 years and what do we have to show for it?

*Establish an equalized early learning levy to allow school districts to develop or expand school-based early childhood education programs and full-day kindergarten.

OK folks, now it gets serious.  Establish another levy? And, of course it’s for two of the three liberal obsessions; early childhood education and all-day kindergarten (the other being free and reduced lunch). This will be spun like every liberal “idea” as “helping kids in poverty” but no liberal programs ever seem to do that.  Why would anyone think forcing early childhood education and all-day kindergarten would change that?

*Like all other publicly elected bodies, school boards should be allowed to generate and spend financial resources to best meet local needs especially when state funding resources are limited.

What? Generate and spend financial resources to meet local needs? Read between the lines; they are asking for the ability to extend a referendum without a vote or the ability to have a discretionary levy, both items have been endorsed by the LAC-DFL before. We need to oppose this!! Once our right to vote is gone, these people aren’t going to give it back.

*Current policies and procedures of managing the school trust lands should be reformed to maximize the future revenues from these resources.

*RAS supports allowing locally elected school boards to determine their school calendar including setting the start date.

Now we support this, but we have to wonder why this is such a priority. Are there not more important things to advocate for then the start of school being the day after labor day?

*The state should use growth measures when reporting school and student performance. Growth measures are a more accurate indicator of a student’s and school’s performance and also support schools to improve individualized student instruction.

Again that all sounds good what where are the specifics? What should these growth measures be? What should be the standard? Usually districts like to celebrate “progress” when they do well and when they do poorly they’ll claim the standards are unfair.

Now let’s think about what they left out (and always do).

*Tenure reform

Tenure should be earned, not given to someone after three years. How do you have local control when you don’t have control over your staff. This is perhaps the WORST state mandate.

*Consolidate Districts

Do we really need 350 some odd districts? Can’t we consolidate anything. We could eliminate 25-50 districts and put that money right in the classroom without raising anyone’s taxes.

*Simplify the basic formula

Why is the formula so complex? Do you really need be an IRS agent just to figure out the basic funding formula?

*Pension reform

Pensions are unsustainable. We need to ween our way off them gradually in the public sector.

*Stop taking federal money

Sending your money to Washington and then having them send it back to us with strings attached is the dumbest way to fund anything. All states and districts do is complain, moan, and gripe about federal money so STOP taking it!!!

Let the legislative session begin!