C-I teachers, service unions voice support for bond referendum

Several members of Education Minnesota-Cambridge-Isanti teachers union attended the Oct. 24 School Board meeting to show support for the $10 million bond referendum that will be on the Nov. 5 ballot. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

Several members of Education Minnesota-Cambridge-Isanti teachers union attended the Oct. 24 School Board meeting to show support for the $10 million bond referendum that will be on the Nov. 5 ballot. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

Education Minnesota-Cambridge-Isanti, as well as the Service Employees International Union Local 284, voiced support for the $10 million bond referendum that will be decided by the voters Nov. 5.

During the Cambridge-Isanti School Board meeting Oct. 24, Jim Godfrey, co-president of the Education Minnesota-Cambridge-Isanti teachers union, and Terri Elvendahl, administrative assistant union steward for SEIU Local 284, read letters of support for the bond referendum.

If approved by voters, the $10 million bond referendum will be used by the school district to fund the most critical components of the district’s long range capital plan. The district has said the goal of the improvements will be to increase building safety, security, and accessibility throughout the district, and to protect taxpayer assets by addressing aging building systems and associated repair needs.

Godfrey said the question on the ballot encompasses many urgent needs in the schools and noted many of the improvements are required under regulation, while many others are sensible investments of limited dollars to provide energy and work efficiencies.

“The tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary and other highly publicized school shootings underscore the importance of being proactive about security and rethinking building designs that are from another era,” Godfrey said. “As teachers and members of a close community, our hearts go out to the families that have experienced horrific losses at their schools. In particular, I think of Michael Landsberry, a math teacher at Sparks Middle School in Nevada. Like many of us in this room, Mr. Landsberry kept a website to help his students get through each year called ‘Welcome to Mr. L.’s Math Class.’ It goes on to say, ‘I have one classroom rule and it is very simple: ‘Thou Shall Not Annoy Mr. L. I am looking forward to getting to know and teach all of you this year.’ Mr. Landsberry served overseas in the National Guard and has been an exemplary coach and teacher. On Monday, Oct. 21, Mr. Landsberry died outside his classroom trying to stop a boy with a gun.”

Godfrey said the bond referendum funding will be used to make the district’s schools safer.

“Let us pray that nothing like this occurs in our schools,” Godfrey said. “But also, let us work together to prevent such tragedies. We all work hard for the safety of our students and we believe that, generally, we have safe schools. However, if all building entrances were modified to control access during school hours, we would all be better served. The passing of this bond issue question will serve that purpose.”

The teachers union thanked the board for the initiative to propose the bond and praised the C-I Care Referendum Committee for their efforts.

“Most of all, we want to go on record to the voters of this area as supporting this bond referendum,” Godfrey said. “We feel this is necessary to protect our children and to move the district forward as efficiently as possible.”

Elvendahl spoke on behalf of SEIU members in the administrative assistants unit, as well as custodians, paraprofessionals and food service units.

“As school staff, we see firsthand the needs that will be met by this bond,” Elvendahl said. “We would like Cambridge-Isanti community members to know that we believe voter approval is imperative and necessary in order to provide safer schools and needed improvements to our buildings. For these reasons, the administrative assistants, custodians, paraprofessionals and food service staff represented by SEIU Local 284 are endorsing the bond and are committed to providing resources and support to ensure that the voters approve this bond referendum with a resounding yes vote on Nov. 5.”

MMR/AYP 2013 data

Director of Teaching and Learning Tim Truebenbach presented the district’s 2013 reports on Multiple Measurements Rating and Adequate Yearly Progress.

Truebenbach explained, similar to last year, many schools ranked in the middle of the new system, meaning they did not receive any formal designation. He said, for the second year in a row, the district met its AYP in all areas.

Truebenbach highlighted the improvement in grade 11 math proficiency. In 2012, the high school had a 43.8 percent proficiency rate. In 2013, the high school earned a 57.5 percent proficiency rate, above the state average of 53.7 percent.

“We really have boosted the high school math scores,” Truebenbach said. “All of the teachers, as well as administrators in the high school, have been working hard on this.”

As far as grade 10 reading proficiency, the high school received a 62.7 percent proficiency rate, just below the state average of 64 percent.

In third- through fifth-grade math, the district earned a 70.1 percent proficiency rate, above the state average of 68.4 percent. In third- through fifth-grade reading, the district earned a 60.2 percent proficiency rate, just above the state average of 59 percent.

In sixth- through eighth-grade math, the district earned a 59.9 percent proficiency rate, just above the state average of 57.2 percent. In sixth- through eighth-grade reading, the district earned a 57.8 percent proficiency rate, just above the state average of 56.6 percent.

In fifth-grade science, the district earned a 68.4 percent proficiency rate, above the state average of 60.7 percent. In eighth grade, the district earned a 48 percent proficiency rate, above the state average of 45.4 percent.

In high school life science, the district earned a 48.6 percent proficiency rate, while the state average was 54.3 percent.

Truebenbach mentioned two schools achieved a positive designation: Cambridge Intermediate School received the designation of a Reward School, and the Minnesota Center received the designation of a Celebration Eligible School.

“Even though these two schools did extremely well, all of the schools are working very hard,” Truebenbach said. “We really are doing some good work in our buildings, and we are seeing growth and differences in our scores. All of our teachers, as well as administrators, are working very hard.”

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