From the Superintendent’s Desk: What will the beginning of the school year look like?

Dr. Jeremy Olson
Crookston Times

    There is nothing more beautiful than a Minnesota summer! I hope everyone is able to enjoy this wonderful weather! There are a few things that I would like to update our community on as we continue to work to improve our schools and school facilities.

    What will the beginning of the school year look like? I am very short on answers at this time. What I do know is that as a district we are going to support our kids and families as much as we are allowed to. We recognize what an incredibly difficult task that parents had as they supported students during distance learning. We also recognize that distance learning is not successful for everyone and while I am incredibly proud of the work that our staff put into distance learning, we all agree that distance learning is certainly not the best format for all students. What is uncertain at this time is what schools will be allowed to do this Fall. If things continue to open up, we will most likely be starting the year off face-to-face with several restrictions which will require us to do things we haven’t ever done before. Areas that we will have to rethink will be transportation (how do we safely transport students), lunch rooms/lunch service, passing times, etc. We are committed to keeping your kids safe and therefore in any scenario we will have to do things differently to maintain safety. Our goal internally as a district is to start developing a plan in mid/late July so that we have a little better perspective on how the reopening of the country is going and are also hoping for additional guidance on what we can and should do from a public health standpoint. This is going to be an interesting fall, however, I am confident that we can develop a plan that both takes care of the educational needs of our kids and families while also keeping our kids safe.

    Strategic Plan: This year our focus and planning was centered around Communication and Relationships. Some of this work led to decisions such as advertising for a Hispanic Liaison, expansion of our Indian Education Liaison position, putting in place supports for struggling students at the high school, setting of expectations for communication home by teachers, and examining our internal practices in an effort to make our school more customer service focused. Next year we are adding “A Culture of High Expectations”. What does this mean? This means a more focused look at what we expect from our students both academically and behaviorally as well as what we should expect from ourselves. We have certainly been slowed by the onset of COVID-19 and of course early in this upcoming year our focus will be on providing education while also ensuring the safety of our students and staff.

    4 year old Preschool: I wanted to remind anyone who is thinking about 4 year old Preschool that we have a five day a week full day program and a half day program available to all students. This is new this year as previously we had a four day a week option and heard feedback from parents wanting a five day a week option for Preschool. Pricing is based on a sliding scale model according to lunch status on the free/reduced lunch application.

    The goal of Preschool is help our students become Kindergarten ready based on the following indicators as developed collaboratively between our Kindergarten and Preschool Teachers:

    Recognize and write the letters in their name.

    Name a minimum of 13 letters of the alphabet...uppercase and lowercase.

    Recognize numbers and count objects 0-10.

    Be able to listen to a story and turn the pages of a book one at a time.

    Show independence with self-help skills such as toileting, washing hands, dressing self, and tying shoes.

    Is able to get along with others and use words to express their feelings.

    We would ask that parents who want to be a part of our Preschool program to contact us to reserve spots for their children as we are in the process of developing staffing and will need to know what the demand will be so that we can staff accordingly.

    Bus Garage: I know that many of you have been wondering about the status of this project as it has been on hold for a few weeks. The reason for this delay is that the building permit that is issued by the state of MN was slow in getting to us due to state employees working from home and a general delay in all state activities during the pandemic. This meant that our excavator was not able to start on time and therefore had to be rescheduled. This was incredibly frustrating as we have lost some precious time, however, the good news is that our permit did finally come through from the state and our excavator has been rescheduled for June 10th.

    We are still scheduled to close out the project in December 2020. This means that our transportation services will be moving in December with the shutdown on our current bus garage scheduled in December as well. We will continue to work collaboratively with the city to transition our current bus facilities to what I hope will be a responsible use.

    Thank you for your support of Crookston Public Schools! If you ever have any questions about our schools or about the direction that we are going, please contact me at 218-770-8717 (cell).