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School Safety Grant
The instructions for the school safety grant opportunity will be available on Monday, July 16, 2018, on the Minnesota Department of Education's (MDE) Grants Page.

Grants may be used to pre-design, design, construct, furnish, and equip school facilities for improvements related to violence prevention and facility security for a qualifying school building. This includes renovating and expanding existing buildings and facilities. The grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis as delineated in the grant instructions.

Further information on specific criteria for the grant, an outline of how the MDE will award projects, and how to apply will be available in the instructions.

An informational webinar will be held on July 24, 2018. Login information for that webinar will be located in the grant instructions.

Applications will be accepted starting on August 29, 2018, through Survey Gizmo. The link will also be available on the MDE Grants Page, but not until the application date.

Please contact Tim Larson at 651-582-8451 for further information.
Grant Opportunity
2018 Legislative Session
Summer Update - July 13, 2018

Summer Brings ESSA and School Trust Lands Updates
School Trust Lands are one of Minnesota's best kept secrets - Conference helps advocates learn more about lands and the productivity which benefit school children.  
School board members, legislators, former teachers and concerned citizens joined together to learn more about Minnesota's trust fund for public school children. They gathered with other advocates from 10 western states last weekend in Duluth for the Advocates of School Trust Lands  Summer Conference.   
MSBA's Denise Dittrich and Kimberley Lewis were joined by school board members Bill Harvey (Anoka-Hennepin) and Tim Riordan (Virginia) at the conference. "Properly managing the School Trust Lands for the students of the state of Minnesota is everyone's responsibility," said Bill Harvey. "It has great potential to fund education in Minnesota, as it was intended to do ... today and every tomorrow!"  
Members of Minnesota's Permanent School Fund Commission, a legislative committee that provides oversight on the School Trust Lands also attended.
Rep. Dale Lueck, Sen. Jerry Newton, Sen. Greg Clausen, Rep. Mary Murphy and Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein learned more about the advocates' role as well as land management principals.  
"It was an excellent opportunity to learn how others are dealing with the important task of managing these lands to generate revenue for our K-12 public schools," said the chair of the committee, Rep. Dale Lueck. Lueck and Kimberley Lewis (MSBA's Government Relations Communications Specialist) participated in a panel discussion sharing experiences on School Trust Lands. When asked what worries they had, Lewis answered, "Quite honestly, time. We have been dealing with many of the same issues, such as management costs and fiduciary responsibilities for years and have not moved the needle."    
Aaron Vande Linde, Director of the Office of School Trust Lands for Minnesota, provided an overview of the 10-year strategic plan his team has completed. The focus of the plan is to maximize current assets, such as the mining where 80 percent of our fund revenues derive from and to minimize unproductive lands.   
"With the appointment of a School Trust Lands director, Minnesota has made progress," said Denise Dittrich, MSBA's Associate Director of Government Relations. "But there is still significant work that needs to be done to maximize the trust." Dittrich's presentation highlighted how with the help of advocates -- such as MSBA -- Minnesota's puzzle has come together over the years taking the trust lands from obscurity to elevating it to a statewide level.    
"A special thanks to Minnesota for hosting our conference, especially our sponsors -- the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA), the Association of Metropolitan School Districts (AMSD), Education Minnesota, and Twin Metals," said Rikki Wheatley, chief operating officer of Advocates for School Trust Lands.    
Last year, $30 million was distributed or $35 per pupil, to Minnesota schools from the Permanent School Fund (PSF). MSBA has advocated on behalf of School Trust Lands in Minnesota for several years for many reasons. One of the largest reasons is the fund provides districts with money that is not derived from taxes. Over the past 10 years, the fund has grown from just over $500 million to $1.3 billion, but the Minnesota public school children still retain the 2.5 mill ion acres of surface land and an additional 1 million acres of mineral rights. The vast majority of the School Trust Lands are located in the northeast corner of the state. All revenue generated by the lands must be deposited into the PSF. Interest and dividends are distributed twice per year to all school districts. 

ESSA Update
MDE holds update meeting on ESSA including report card information.
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) held an Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) stakeholder meeting to provide an update on the Minnesota's implementation of ESSA on July 11. The new plan is titled, The North Star Excellence and Equity System.

The agenda addressed:
  • Minnesota's equity work
  • Progress on the Minnesota Report Card
  • Reporting of discipline data
  • Protecting student privacy
  • Accountability system
The attendees, including MSBA, were reminded that August will bring the first round of schools, districts and charters identified under the North Star Plan as "Needs Support" or "Schools of Success." The timing is as follows:
August 8: Embargoed data to school districts
August 27: Final data to school districts
August 28: Data released to media
August 30: Data made public

The department predicts there will be 50 school districts and charters, along with more than 400 individual schools, identified as needing improvement.

In general, the Minnesota Report Card will have a new look with some pieces; however, it is still a "work in progress."  A mock-up of the new report card will be available on the Department website within one week under the ESSA tab.

One new feature is the front page, "School District at a Glance," in which a school district will enter a description of their district along with consistent attendance data, teacher information and a snapshot of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) scores.

The new plan redefines the "achievement gap." Instead of measuring the achievement gap by comparing one student group to white students, every student group will be measured against statewide ESSA goals, as identified in the North Star Plan.  

Under ESSA, MDE proposes changes to the way we publicly report student data, with the goal of finding the balance between transparency and privacy.

MDE also proposes a new method of reporting safety data, or suspensions -- data will be compared from year to year and between school districts. Some attendees questioned whether this reporting is a fair representation of the number of suspensions.

Educational equity is the lens the North Star Plan developed. In a continuation of this effort, MDE presented the Ten Minnesota Commitments to Equity, adapted from Florida Department of Education.

To learn more or ask questions, attend MSBA's Summer Seminar breakout session titled, "Q&A With the Commissioner" on Monday, August 6, at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park.
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St. Paul, MN 55103