Technology is vital part of District 911

By Rachel Kytonen

The students and staff in the Cambridge-Isanti School District rely on operational technology each and every day.

During the Cambridge-Isanti School Board meeting Thursday, Feb. 23, Susan Burris, director of teaching and learning, gave a presentation to the board outlining technology in the school district.

Burris said the district is trying to create 21st century learners and leaders, focus on digital citizenship and global competencies and increase student engagement. She said the district is also focused on cost efficiency and operational effectiveness.

Examples of the every day use of technology include:

• Skyward Student Management System

• SMART finance system

• First Class email system

• 1500 + computer workstations

• Cell phone networking by the minute

• Paperless environment support

• 40 services supporting the district’s operations

As far as the future, Burris said the district needs to recognize the difference between operational technology and integrated technology; develop an organizational flow to support both learners and leaders and develop a district-wide plan for moving forward.

Also, the district is focusing on developing an action plan for moving forward by levels; delivering consistent experiences to every student in each grade level; reviewing funding and reappropriating funds as able and making technology a priority.

As far as the process, Burris explained it will take a collaborative three to five year process (Minnesota Department of Education Technology Plan developed and approved); review and redesign the technology organizational chart to support growth and research and develop a detailed action plan. Burris noted the technology department will present this plan in April.

Teacher negotiation update

Board Member Tim Hitchings gave an update regarding teacher negotiations with Education Minnesota Cambridge-Isanti.

Hitchings explained the board has attended several negotiations sessions with negotiators of Education Minnesota Cambridge-Isanti and also has participated in mediation. The board has made a number of proposals to Education Minnesota in an attempt to reach an agreement on their 2011-2013 contract.

“In its most recent proposal crafted by the mediator, the school board agreed to give teachers a half-step increase during each of the contract years and to provide a lump sum payment of $500 to all teachers who would not otherwise be eligible for a step increase,” Hitchings said. “The school board also agreed to increase the amount it presently contributes for employee health care costs. In total, the offer provided a 4.1 percent increase in benefits and salary to teachers and is similar to the offers made and accepted by other Cambridge-Isanti employee groups.”

Hitchings explained the Education Minnesota negotiation team agreed to take the board’s proposal to a vote of its membership. The board understands that negotiators for the teacher’s union did not support the tentative agreement and its membership overwhelmingly rejected the tentative agreement. Accordingly, the parties will resume mediation.

“The school board stands ready to resolve these contract issues in a fair and equitable manner at any time,” Hitchings said. “The school board’s concern, however, is that Education Minnesota continues to propose contract changes that would result in an increase in salary and benefits to teachers that equals or exceeds 9 percent. It is the school board’s goal to treat all employee groups fairly and equally and providing a 9 percent increase to one group when other groups accepted a much lower increase would result in disparities between these employee groups.”

In other action the board:

Approved the expulsion of a student for a period of 12 months. The district has found an alternative education setting for the student.

• Approved the teacher seniority list effective Jan. 25. The list had been posted throughout the district for teachers to review and provide suggestions for modification. The list will be the basis for determining continuing contract (tenured) teacher layoffs due to program and/or service reductions.