Dear Northfield School District Families:
I am writing with a reminder about the COVID-19 protocol changes that went into effect today, sharing an update to the 2022-23 school calendar, an update on the district’s upcoming budget prioritization process, resources for Black History Month and I Love To Read Month, and some bright spots with several teams advancing to their respective state tournaments.
COVID-19 Protocol Updates
Please see 2021-22 District Family Update No. 19 for detailed information about updates to COVID-19 protocols that went into effect today. As a reminder, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) still requires face coverings to be worn on school buses.
While the pandemic is not yet over, we are excited to be able to take these important steps in scaling back some of the district’s COVID-19 safety protocols. It is a significant step in the right direction. We have identified data points that would prompt us to consider reactivating safety protocols. Again, you can read the information in 2021-22 District Family Update No. 19.
The pandemic is one of the most complex societal disruptions many of us have faced in our lifetimes. As we move forward, I pledge to use the convening power of the school district to facilitate healing within our community. Regardless of your perspective, we have to move forward together.
Black History Month and I Love to Read Month
February celebrates Black History Month. Numerous resources can help you explore the significant contributions Black Americans have made to our nation. One excellent collection is at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. I also encourage you to learn about the opportunities available at the Minnesota Humanities Center.
February is also I Love to Read Month. I encourage you to check out the great programming available through the Northfield Public Library. One of our district’s benchmarks is ensuring students can read at grade level. Making sure your children see you reading at home is essential in that effort and the library is a great place to show your family’s commitment to reading. The Northfield Public Library also recently announced that it has become “fine free!”
Budget Prioritization Team Updates
As previously shared, Northfield expects to experience declining enrollment over the next ten years. I encourage you to review the demographic study report and watch the demographer’s presentation to the Board of Education on January 24 to understand our enrollment situation more deeply. When partnered with inflation and chronic state underfunding, a decline in enrollment requires us to reduce our expenditures to align with the budget impact of fewer students. Budget teams that include more than 40 students, staff, and parents will seek to identify the programming most important to achieving the benchmarks set out in our updated strategic plan. We will reduce our expenditures by approximately $4.5 million, phasing in these adjustments over two years. We are fortunate to start this process in a position of financial strength. We will leverage our strong fund balance and use federal relief funds to assist in this transition to lower expenditures. However, I need to be clear that programming changes must take place to adjust to our new reality of fewer students. The budget teams will meet four times over the next month. I will provide you with updates as the process unfolds. Budget teams will provide vital recommendations that the administration and Board of Education will weigh in making the final decisions about the financial pathway forward.
2022-23 School Calendar
At the February 14, 2022, regular meeting, the board officially updated the 2022-23 school calendar. There are limited adjustments, but we want you to be aware of these changes well before the school year.
Congratulations to State Bound Teams!
It has been quite a winter for Northfield High School’s winter activities. So far, four teams have qualified for state tournament play:
- Boys swim and dive placed third at the state True Team meet earlier this month.
- Girls hockey won the section final and will play in the state tournament. Their first game is on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 11 am, vs. Edina.
- Wrestling won the section championship and advanced to the state tournament. The Raiders will wrestle at 9 am on March 3. One additional wrestling note: Lainey Houts and Ella Pagel have qualified for the first-ever girls state wrestling tournament. Congratulations!
- Mock trial advanced to state after winning the regional final.
Once again, thank you for your partnership in educating our students. We take great pride in the trust you bestow upon us to do this essential work to prepare every student for lifelong success.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools