Advertising coming to the schools

By Greg Hunt

By a unanimous vote, the District 911 School Board approved the selling and placement of advertising within school buildings at its Sept. 22 regular meeting.

“It’s really a shame we are relegated to advertising to garner funds for schools. Is it best? I don’t think so. But we will try it a year and see how it shakes out,” spoke Dist. 911 Supt. Bruce Novak during the discussion on advertising.

Dave Maurer and Robyn Vosberg-Torgerson explained the ads placed through the schools will be tastefully done, with the bulk of advertising at Cambridge-Isanti High School. Examples of potential advertising could be from organizations such as Health Partners, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Cub Foods, MN Public Safety (ie. “Don’t Text and Drive” messages), and Schmitt Music.

“We can approve or disapprove an ad in it’s entirety, but we can’t edit it,” said Maurer. He added that 30 percent of ad revenue would go to the school the ads are placed in, with 70 percent going into the district pot. He said a key point is the money will be spent on students.

Vosberg-Torgerson updated the board on the advertising which is help paying off the new scoreboard at CIHS’ Larson Field. She said eight-of-10 ad slots have been sold so far, and it should take a little over five years to pay off the purchase.

Board chair Gary Hawkins and member Lynn Wedlund said they were contacted by community members opposed to placing ads in schools, voicing concerns how our youth are already bombarded by advertising through all mediums.

• In another financial action, the board approved to certify the maximum amount for the preliminary 2011 Payable 2012 Levy. Director of Finance Vosberg-Torgerson estimated the 2012 Levy amount at $8.11 million, but a clearer amount won’t be available for a short time, adding this past summer’s state shutdown is still having an impact on budget determinations.


“The Bluejacket Way” at IMS

For the September “School Board Showcase,” Asst. Principal Steve Gibbs and Academic Coach Anne Johnson presented on academic supports and behavioral intervention at Isanti Middle School. Johnson walked the board through the Pyramid of Interventions which maximizes data use for decisions to help students achieve academic success.

Students are encouraged through their own login password to monitor their grades. The online “Homework Hub” provides both students and parents access to know what homework is coming due. A weekly fill-in form called GRADE is also employed to help students focus on academic success.

“The ultimate goal for our programs: Students learning to be responsible for their own academic progress,’” stated Johnson.

Gibbs spoke on “The Bluejacket Way” behavioral expectation system which matches the districts five Character Traits to various locations around IMS (ie. classrooms, cafeteria or at extra-curricular activities). In addition, at use this year are “Positive Postcards” (mailed home to inform parents of a student’s positive actions at school) and behavioral “Bonus Tickets.”

Gibbs added that such practices as lunch detention and Saturday School are not geared toward negativity where a student is made to sit silently but rather are pro-active moments to help students refocus attention on their academics and behaviors.

“The focus is on using a positive manner to reinforce expectations around our school,” spoke Gibbs, adding the programs are extremely effective after the first few weeks of employment this school year.

IMS Principal Tim Truebenbach contributed, “We are off to a fantastic start. I’m very proud of how my ‘All-Star’ staff has teamed on these plans. We’re all speaking the same language, and we’re empowering leaders and teams to take action.”


A couple of ‘head-scratchers’

An item board member Mark Becker asked to be pulled from the Consent Agenda for further discussion was the complete transfer of all head cooks from one school building to another, wondering at the reasoning for the decision and also whether the board should be informed before the administration takes such action.

Novak and Vosberg-Torgerson both said the transfers were not punitive or performance-related moves, but rather offered all head cooks the opportunity to develop their skills in other buildings. Changes in assignments are within inherent managerial rights, added Novak, whether it be a cook, teacher or administrator.

The second “head-scratching” moment came late in the meeting when an action item for “Approve Format for Submitting Legislative Resolutions.” This rather innocuous item changed from just a simple format approval to an actual resolution for the Minnesota School Boards Association to direct the 2011-12 Legislature to restructure Basic Foundation Aid to School Districts on the basis of mastery of skill level achievement instead of on the present day revenue disbursement of the chronological age of a child (ie. moving away from the concept of grade level identification).

The resolution passed by a 4-3 vote, with members Anne Johnson, Wedlund and Hawkins voting against since such a philosophical change would require much more discussion than allowed through this one motion.