This article was published in the Northfield News on 07.10.2019

During the summer months, I am often asked: “what happens at school in the summer?” I think most people expect that since most students are on summer break that everything grinds to a halt. The truth is there is significant activity happening in our schools.

  • We host summer programs for over 700 students. These programs include traditional summer school for high school students to make up credits, extended school year for special education students, specialized academic and enrichment experiences for at-risk students, and our licensed child care program.
  • Thanks to the successful 2018 bond referendum election, construction on the new secure entrance and main office has started at Bridgewater Elementary. Bids for this project came in at the budgeted amount. Bids for the new Greenvale Park Elementary School will be released in the next few weeks, followed by bids for the addition/renovation at Sibley Elementary.
  • The buildings and grounds department is busily working on over $1 million of non-bond related school improvements. These improvements include painting the halls and classroom doors, exterior brick repair, painting and alterations in the lower cafeteria, gymnasium equipment updates, and sidewalk repair at Northfield High School (NHS). Classroom door hardware at Sibley and Bridgewater Elementary Schools will be updated to allow staff members to lock classroom doors from the inside in case of an emergency. This was completed at NHS and Northfield Middle School (NMS) in 2018. The pool deck will be resurfaced, lighting upgrade to LED in the auditorium, and obsolete building HVAC system controls will be updated at NMS. A multi-year investment to update the original cabinetry and casework in the oldest parts of Sibley Elementary will continue. These are just a few of the projects that our buildings and grounds department is managing this summer.
  • Technology services staff, with the help of dozens of educational assistants, have prepared new iPads for students to receive this summer or fall. The new iPads replace a fleet of approximately 4,000 three or four-year old iPads that were sold by bid for over $300,000. Students will also be supplied with a Logitech Crayon, a highly responsive stylus similar to the Apple Pencil but at a lower cost.
  • The human resources department is working diligently to fill open positions for the 2019-20 school year. As of the date of this article, we are planning to welcome more than 20 new teachers and/or support staff to join the Northfield Public Schools team in August.
  • Our assessment services department is thoroughly reviewing the embargoed results of the 2018-19 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, Advanced Placement exam scores, and our district’s performance on the ACT. This review of the data will inform our work to help ensure every child has the skills and disposition to pursue their dreams after high school.
  • The school board has requested administrators develop technical plans that would allow for a later start to the school day. Substantial research indicates teenagers realize significant health, academic, and social/emotional benefits from a later start to the school day. These plans will be shared with staff, parents, students, and the community this fall. No changes to school schedules would happen until at least 2020, if at all.

As you can see, students might be on summer break but Northfield Public Schools staff is working diligently to prepare for the 2019-20 school year. This work demonstrates a dedication to stewardship of the resources entrusted to our school district.