Superintendent Video Transcript for July 2019

 

Hello everyone. I am Terry Wilding here at the MSAB playground on a nice day in July. I would like to give you some updates, what's occurred since the last time I made a video in June. 

 

I'd like to explain the updates from the recent board meeting in June. First of all, I'd like to congratulate our two new board members. The first one is an ongoing board member who will be back for another four years: Nicole Halabi. She is our special education director representative and has recently been appointed for another four year term by the governor. Our new board member Katherine Wangberg will be the representative for the deaf community and joining us in the next month. She has been appointed by the Governor. We are still waiting for the superintendent representative to be announced. Marty Duncan recently retired and hopefully soon we will learn about his replacement. Once that has occurred, I will share that information with you.

 

 During our June board meeting -- it is considered our organizational board meeting -- we elect officers, approve different things, and plan for the following year. At the June 27th meeting, we elected new officers for the board. The chair for next year will be Alex Caddy. The vice chair will be Jan Bailey, and the officer of business affairs will be Benga Ogungbe. Those three will be our new officers. In the July 18th retreat, they will be sworn in and then continue their term. Congratulations to the three new officers. 

 

As for the June board meeting, the agenda was quite long. I will give you some of the highlights that were discussed. The 2019-2020 board policies that were up for review and reauthorization were approved. We also approved the meeting schedule for the board and committee meetings for the following year. We approved the continued relationship with the Minnesota State High School League -- the Athletic Association -- to make sure our schedules and sports align with their rules. We worked on the organizational chart and made some changes. That discussion is not complete; we will continue that at the July 18th board retreat and hopefully we'll have a special meeting to finalize that organizational chart. 

 

In June, I discussed the complications with the budget. The board did take a look and made some changes, tightened up some budgets, trimmed some positions and laid off some people. It was a challenge. The board took a look at it and finally approved the balanced budget. The details of that budget are on our website under the board packet. You can look there for the details on the budget numbers. 

 

We also discussed the board retreat that will occur on July 18th. During that day we will have different people coming in to present and discuss and help the board develop goals for the following year. It also helps the board understand the issues that our schools are facing. The agenda is quite full from 8:00 to 4:00 p.m., and the agenda will be posted on the website soon. If you are interested to come and watch you can as an observer. It is open to the public -- you may not participate, though. We also approved the handbook. We've made some minor changes and one great news is we finally approved the new logo for the schools. The logo has a representative emblem of both schools. We also will have sub logos for each campus for their school specific needs. That information has now been sent to the designer to make a clean and pristine, final logo design. Then we will have a kickoff event in the fall as the school year begins. 

 

We approved new policies at the last board meeting. There were two categories we recently approved: the communication accessibility language development policy as well as five policies related to curriculum textbooks selection of grade level materials. All of those were approved, then we moved on to another category of first reading. Those policies are on our website. You may take a look at those. If you have ideas and feedback, please share that with me before the next policy meeting in August. 

 

In July, we do have events occurring on campus. As I had mentioned, the board retreat will be on July 18th. That is for board members -- an all-day retreat. At that time, we will discuss the organizational chart and we will be sending that to the Personnel Committee meeting at the end of July to make the final revisions and then hopefully a special meeting to approve that organizational chart.  At the recent meeting they asked us to gather more information to decide what we want to do. 

 

Of course you know every year we have the summer school program on both campuses at MSAB and MSAD. We have students from our school as well as students from across the state of Minnesota that will come for a two-week period. The organization and planning has already occurred, and we look forward to having the students here on campus. We also have summer school curriculum days where our staff, teachers and counselors will gather to review our curriculum for the following year and get ready for the next school year. We look forward to more reports in the August and September months. 

 

Students are away during the summer but our staff continue to learn and work. We had four conferences that our staff have attended or will attend. The first one is the Midwest Conference on Deaf Education in South Dakota. We had a booth there; we also reached out and met several people in South Dakota and we learned some great information that we will bring back to the school. We also sent three representatives to the National Deaf Education Conference in Austin, Texas. Teachers and managers went and they learned from the workshops and will bring back that information. We have the National Student Life conference in Connecticut. Our dorm director and one staff attended the conference out in Connecticut. They will bring back what they learned from their trainings. We also have one blind teacher going to the National Federation of the Blind Conference in Las Vegas. He will go and learn about new technologies and strategies and bring back that information. As you can see, our teachers and staff continue to learn during the summer, keep our student programs current, and our resources current as well. 

 

The last tidbit I'd like to share with you: last month I described that we established a new program called Pathways to Life, our transition program for students during the summer. The recent last two weeks of June we had students that attended -- twelve from different school districts as well as our own -- for a good summer transition program. Mark Schwartz was the lead teacher with several staff that worked with him in organizing. It was the first time ever for a summer transition program. They worked on different skills, had presenters coming in talking about futures in transition, they experienced community service, and helped in volunteer situations. They enjoyed some recreational activities as well. They learned a lot in those last ten days and hopefully we will continue to develop that for the next school year. We will take the lessons we learned this year. For the first time ever, it was a lot of work but with the collaboration between us, MDE, Vocational Rehabilitation,  the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and other organizations, it was a collaborative effort to make it such a success. Congratulations to Mark and his staff. 

 

That is a wrap up for this month. Hopefully you have a good summer. Some of you will come to work, some of you won't, but have a great summer and we will see you next month.