Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak delivered an update on the school district’s equity planning efforts at the May 10 meeting of the White Bear Lake school board.
The district has accelerated its efforts to address racial inequity in the schools since the incident of racial harassment of several students via social media in early April. These efforts have included planning community forums and reviewing policies, curriculum and reporting procedures. School staff has begun to take Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) assessments to receive coaching and individual growth plans to build intercultural competence. The district aims to have nearly 80 staff members receive IDI coaching by fall 2021.
The district has also developed a three-year professional development plan designed for district leaders to build leadership around equity, racial equity, anti-racism and change management.
The district will receive support from Paula Forbes and Dr. Derald Wing Sue to inform its progress. Forbes is a facilitator and lawyer who has worked with Reimagine Minnesota, an initiative created to address equity, integration and excellence in Minnesota schools. Sue is a nationally recognized psychologist and expert in microaggressions, or subtle forms of racism that appear in day-to-day interactions.
“We continue to work with students, community members, consultants and parents as we plan to engage in community forums to address racism, school culture and climate, and building unity to create an anti-racist community,” Kazmierczak said.
The school board also approved a resolution of its intent to sell facilities maintenance bonds up to the amount of $31.1 million. District 624 has a number of older buildings, which makes it eligible for state long-term facilities maintenance revenue (LTFMR) funding.
“These bonds will largely finance projects at North Campus, while the addition to the building is being built,” said Tim Wald, assistant superintendent of finance and operations. The bonds will be presented for proposals June 14, and the results of the sale will be shared at the next school board meeting.
“Fortunately, White Bear Lake was one of the larger districts that was grandfathered in,” said Shelby McQuay, a representative of Ehlers Inc., the district’s municipal advisor. “Because of your size and your building age, you have been allowed to issue bonds and generate additional dollars through board action, not through going to the voters, to keep up your facilities.”
As a requirement for the LTFMR program, the district also submitted an updated 10-year plan to the Commissioner of Education.
In other action, the school board:
• Recognized student achievements for state and national level honors via virtual presentation.
• Recognized student liaisons Jennifer Adams and Bemnet Tessema for outstanding performance in their roles as representatives to the 2020-2021 school board.
• Congratulated Matoska International kindergarten teacher Kendall Gonzalez on being named the White Bear Lake Area Educators’ 2021 Teacher of the Year.
• Approved St. Paul Beverage Solutions LLC as the school district’s continued supplier of milk. The district goes through about 3.2 million pints of milk in a year.
• Changed the 2021-2022 school calendar start day for grades 6-12 from Sept. 7 to Sept. 8 in deference to the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. Sept. 7 will instead be a staff development day.