UPDATED 12/13: Stillwater School Board Considers Cuts to GT Services
St. Croix Valley Gifted is drawing priority attention to potential cuts the Stillwater Area School Board considers for 2019-2020. District administrators prepared a list of cuts for board consideration to address a $2.5M shortfall in order to maintain the available fund balance as specified in school board policy. This list, which remains under review as of late October 2018, includes:
- Reduce HS programs to the level required by the state, and not above (affects some AP programming per 10/23 board working session)
- Remove 6,7 GATE Programming
- Remove 4 & 5 GATE Programming
- Removal of GATE eliminates van transportation in the southern end of our district to SMS
- Removal of GATE eliminates bus transportation to Adventure Club, Oak-Land Middle School
- Reduce choice of electives in 8th grade at MS
Line items above appear in order according to the likelihood or priority for inclusion in the finalized list of cuts as discussed at the school board work session Tuesday 10/23. Board members have asked for further information before taking this matter up for discussion during an upcoming board business meeting. Please see the district website for the school board meeting schedule and reference the 10/23 work session documents for other categories under consideration, including board identified priority.
UPDATED 12/13: The Stillwater School Board identified $1.523 million in budget adjustments at its 12/12 working session, to be part of discussion agenda at tonight’s business meeting. This falls short of the $2.5 million goal, which means the board may continue the discussion to identify additional areas. St. Croix Valley Gifted maintains support for advocating on behalf of GT learners.
THANK YOU to each community member who has chosen to contact school board members or had conversation with district educators on behalf of student access to services. We do still intend to be present at the 12/13 school board business meeting, because we recognize the impact these deliberations have on local students, their families, and confidence in continued access to supports.
This timeline also has had direct impact on parent notifications about GATE for 2019-2020. Per district website, prospective families originally were to be notified on Friday 12/7, with applications due on 12/21 and (as is routine) an on-site visit made available to families during that timeframe. Now all of that is on hold until a board decision is finalized.
Chapter Advocacy and Community Support
We take great pride in the St Croix Valley and local commitment to education. As a chapter of MCGT, St. Croix Valley Gifted is dedicated to community and advocacy in support of student learning. MCGT supports a constructive approach to advocacy on behalf of GT learners, one that models how we want students to advocate for themselves.
In that spirit, and because we believe that any school board decisions should be made with a clear grasp of the student and district impact, the Chapter Team has taken the following steps:
1) With full chapter team approval, St. Croix Valley Gifted sent a data request letter to district leaders on Tuesday, 10/23. We are seeking further detail about the total district student population (grades 4-12) who qualify for GT services and how dedicated funding for GT services under MN Statute 126C.10 Subd. 2b has been allocated during the recent two years, both funding apportioned by the MN Legislature and any additional money from the general fund. We also asked about how the district is developing plans to meet new federal reporting requirements for GT student learning growth under ESSA, which replaced NCLB. This MCGT chapter sent a prior data request to district leaders in 2014; it is an appropriate time for updated information, regardless of the present situation.
2) We created a list of actions you can take that, along with joining MCGT or renewing your chapter membership, show unified support for local GT students and continued availability of GT services. UPDATED 12/3: There is still time to send your remarks to school board members if you have not already done so, though we urge action during the next 10 days, including Open Forum at the scheduled board meeting on THURSDAY 12/13. Identification for gifted services appears within MN Legislative Statute and as a required component of district and charter school World’s Best Workforce plans. MDE recognizes gifted programming as an appropriate education intervention: The potential of gifted students requires differentiated and challenging educational programs or services beyond those provided in the general school program. – Source
3) We circulated a special e-newsletter bulletin on Wednesday, 10/24 to our chapter membership and contact list. UPDATED 12/3: Watch for a follow-up bulletin this week! The bulletin alerts community members to the situation described here and links to a variety of advocacy resources. Advocacy comes with the territory of raising and educating GT learners. On the whole, GT learners are an underserved population across the United States. This is especially true for students of color and from low-income households. Start receiving our chapter e-newsletter to keep up to speed with local GT services, enrichment opportunities, resources, and events; enter contact details here. If you already signed up but haven’t seen a recent issue, please visit this link for further instructions. We do not share our contact list with any outside parties.
4) We want you to vote in the TUES 11/6 Midterm Elections. Why? VOTE for people who will advocate for and support sound decisions that strengthen legislative funding for Minnesota schools and GT programming. This means choosing candidates who show strengths that can translate to effective advocacy in a legislative setting, whether as school board members or in the Minnesota House and Senate. Early voting already is in progress. What do local school board candidates say about classroom supports for GT learners? We asked them. All seven candidates responded to our questionnaire. You’ll find other forum videos and voter resources there, too.
5) We continue ongoing conversations with parents, students, teachers, board members, and educators about GT services in the St. Croix Valley. We do that on a regular basis because developing local relationships is an important chapter priority. It helps us stay informed about issues, concerns, and success stories; identify partners who also are doing good work for students; introduce people to common concerns and misconceptions about gifted learners; and choose relevant resources, meeting topics, speakers, etc., for this community. We referenced our 2017-2018 Community Feedback Initiative in the data request letter, as it contains your thoughts about local GT supports and a wealth of evidence-based resources. Our chapter president attended the 10/23 school board work session. We supplied advocacy resources for a parent who spoke during Open Forum on 10/25 (Starts 1:20:00 after Board Chair’s introduction) and were present at that meeting. We asked the moderator of the GATE Facebook group to post a link to the special bulletin for parent awareness.
Students, caregivers, educators, and community members affiliated with any of the schools in the St. Croix Valley area can approach this MCGT chapter at any time with questions or suggestions. Let us know in your email whether you prefer to connect for more conversation in person or by phone.