Dear Northfield School District Families:
Thank you for your continued cooperation and partnership as we enter the last month of the school year. While this year has presented many challenges, we are proud of the work we have done together for our students in a difficult situation. As a reminder, these semi-monthly updates are intended to provide district-wide updates, include bright spots, and other information associated with the district’s strategic plan.
Budget prioritization complete and reductions finalized
I previously shared information about the need for the district to reduce its expenditures (Update Nos. 16, 17, 20, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, and 28) by approximately $4.5 million over the next two years due to chronic state underfunding and projected declining enrollment of 400 students over the next 10 years. Approximately 70 people participated in our budget prioritization teams this winter to help the district identify the programs and services that will best help us reach our strategic plan’s vision, commitments, and benchmarks. These program and service reductions are difficult because every program and service we offer has meaning to someone in the school district. Reductions are painful because they impact our students, friends, and neighbors. However, we needed to take action to maintain the district’s financial sustainability.
The board approved the budget reduction packages with the exception of the following:
- Elementary Portage has been funded for one more year and will be reviewed with Secondary Portage for the 2023-24 school year. We will do specific marketing to attempt to increase the enrollment of both programs.
- The Agriculture Education partnership with Randolph was preserved. We learned we are eligible for some additional funding from the state for this program and that helped the board decide to keep the partnership.
- The board also officially modified our district fund balance goal from 16% to 14%. This change is significant because it provides greater flexibility and changes the threshold for making additional budget reductions.
The board did ask us to bring the Northfield High School parking lot/security monitor, scheduled for reduction in the 2023-24 school year, back for consideration next winter as part of the regular budgeting process.
Thank you to all those who participated in the process, provided feedback at the community forum, offered their perspective via email, or shared their point-of-view during the public comment portion of school board meetings. As difficult as these reductions were, it is how a responsible school district acts when it is able to anticipate reduced revenue.
Northfield Teaching Fellows selected
As previously reported, the Northfield Public Schools was one of only six districts in the state to win a competitive “Grow Your Own” grant from the Minnesota Department of Education to help Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) members of our community attain their teaching licenses. The Northfield Teaching Fellows Council recently selected the first five recipients: Jennifer Antoine, Nadine Bartolo, Adriana Bermudez Araujo, Alondra Esmeralda Ortiz Martinez, and Karen Lorena Rodriguez Rojas.
Teaching fellow candidates must meet one of the following criteria: have graduated from Northfield Public Schools, be a parent of a current Northfield Public Schools student, live within the Northfield Public School district boundaries; and/or be a current Northfield Public Schools employee.
Teaching fellows receive up to $2,500 per year in tuition assistance, one-on-one advising support throughout the program, a $1,000 stipend per year to assist with other living or college costs, and a connection with a mentor teacher.
Parent Satisfaction Survey Update
The district recently received the results of our parent satisfaction survey. We are working to review the data and will update you with the results before the end of the school year. We will use the data as part of our annual school improvement planning process.
School board meeting update
The school board held a regular board meeting on May 9. The board packet & table file are located on our website. The board approved the consent agenda, the elementary, secondary and district services budget reductions, a reduction to the district’s fund balance, placement of licensed staff on unrequested leave of absence, and the bid for security cameras. A video of the regular board meeting is available on our website and you can listen to my recap of the meeting on KYMN radio.
Once again, thank you for your ongoing support. Have a great rest of your week!
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools