Lakeville Public School District funds all-expense-paid trip to Florida

Skelly was lone vote against proposal that disregarded district policies

The Lakeville School District funded an estimated $12,500 all-expenses paid extended field trip to Tampa Bay, Fla., for six male high school students and three district staff members, Feb. 19-23.

The selected students and staff missed three school days to attend “Black, Brown & College Bound,” a national summit held at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel designed to encourage African-American and Latino males to graduate from high school and attend college.

The district covered all meals ($945), $249 per night lodging at a nearby hotel ($5,202), air travel and transportation ($2,697) and registration ($3,675) for students, Lakeville South High School dean Shaun Murphy, Alternative Learning Center Principal Cliff Skagan and School Success liaison Ray Hawes.

Featured at the conference were African-American and Latino professors, authors, scholars, cultural critics and activists whose presentations were designed to encourage students who may face significant obstacles to complete high school and attend college.

Students who attended were invited to join the advisory panel for the InterCultural Alliance of Student Scholars leadership team, a post in their schools they would be expected to retain through senior year.

The Lakeville School Board approved the trip on a 4-1 vote Feb. 12.

Board Member Bob Erickson said he abstained from the vote because he served on the state Integration Revenue Replacement Task Force charged with recommending changes to the state’s racial integration funding. The trip was funded with Integration & Equity grant dollars, which are used to promote college readiness and close the achievement gap for underserved populations.

Board Member Jim Skelly cast the dissenting vote, citing concerns about the trip’s cost when the district is struggling with millions in budget cuts, lowered enrollment and staff layoffs.

Skelly also questioned the fairness of paying for all expenses in relation to other groups who have had to raise funds for their trips.

He also pointed out several variances from district policy in the request process and the district’s funding of the trip.

District 194 policy specifies that, except for one adviser/coach, all expenses associated with an extended trip, including lodging and transportation, “must be garnered from the participants and fundraising.”

The policy allows for exceptions under two circumstances: if a trip is the result of advancement in a Minnesota State High School League-sponsored tournament or “in the face of emergency conditions.”

In an interview, Skelly said this was not an emergency.

“There wasn’t a tornado or anything,” he said.

During the meeting, Skelly also raised concerns that the request itself disregarded district policy because it was made to the board seven days before the trip was scheduled.

District policy says there should be 30-day notice period before any extended field trip. That directive is printed at the top of the extended field trip request form filled out by staff.

The policy says district staff cannot discuss an extended field trip with students and parents before it is fully approved by the School Board.

Both those policies were not followed because district officials first wanted to ensure they had some students of color who were interested in attending before making the board request, according to District 194 Teaching and Learning Services Director Barb Knudsen.

She also said they had just recently learned about the conference.

Dated signatures on the form indicate Activities Director Neil Strader and principals at both high schools were asked to approve the request in early to mid-January.

District Superintendent Lisa Snyder signed off on the request Feb. 5, a week before it was brought for board approval.

Knudsen said the conference would help the district meet its integration goals, reduce disparities and build student leadership qualities.

Board Member Michelle Volk said she also had concerns about how close the trip came to not meeting board “guidelines,” but supported student involvement in the program because few are encouraged to go to college and there they would be encouraged by passionate speakers to seek higher education.

Staff who attended the trip would not speak to the newspaper about it, but District Equity Coordinator Cynthia Hays said she wanted to go and described the trip as “awesome.”

She said it was a “kickoff for our leadership initiative,” and that staff members expect students to come back and serve as mentors.

Hays said staff members hope to make the trip an annual event, but it is dependent on integration funding, a hot-button topic in the Legislature.

During the meeting, Board Chair Roz Peterson said the board was given a short time to do “a lot of research” to ensure district dollars were wisely spent.

“This isn’t a rubber-stamp board,” she said, calling this particular case an exception to the rule.

“We don’t just let things slide by without trying to do our homework,” Peterson said. “I would advise the staff to try to get their field trips in a timely manner … so we don’t have a panic attack and go through what we went through this weekend.”

In an interview, Skelly said he “could not support expenditures of nearly $13,000 to send a handful of students on a field trip at a time when we’re cutting $3.5 million from our budget.”

The district is also planning to seek millions in a levy referendum this fall.

 

  • Dumb

    More bad press for this school district

  • Rosie from Rosemount

    Wow.

    Throw the bums out!

  • Jan Dobson

    Thanks, Laura Adelmann, for another superb example of investigative watchdog journalism. Love your grit. Love your style.

    • MMB

      If you think this is another example of superb investigative watchdog journalism, you are sadly mistaken. This article shows no grit or style-only a self-serving author writing a factually incorrect article.

  • Digusted with 194 school board

    This is so typical for this super intendant. She always seems to ” find” funds for silly things. Like the time last year she “found” 3.5 million for ipads. My LSHS student says he rarely uses one. We who live in lakeville need to be better watchdogs over this group.

  • Ima Pissedoff

    A complete waste of taxpayers money and disregard to policy. Lakeville minority students don’t come a disadvantage suburb, this is not Minneapolis North or Santa Ana, Ca.

    • GCL

      You seem like you’re upset because a few “Students of color” had a great educational trip. Lets face it, how much money do you really contribute in taxes? Maybe the money would have been better spent on the local hockey team rather than a trip to hear the movers and shakers of the world speak? I think not. The miniscule amount that came from every contributing tax payer may have been well worth it. As far as policy, well policy is typically set as a guideline that makes up the rule but does not exclude the exception. Have you ever been to Santa Ana California? Yes / No? Well I have, and there are some great areas in North Santa Ana with homes worth ten times the amount of homes on Lake Marion or Orchard Lake. Regardless of the economic level in Santa Ana students blend together and work hard without discrimination. As a result, U.S News and World Report, reported the district’s 12 high schools received gold, silver, and bronze awards in “Best high school rankings.”

      • Re Ality Check

        I think Santa Ana wants you back…buh bye!

        • Madman

          Relax kid, I’m doing you a favor by staying.

  • Brad

    So how can the school board now justify not paying for other “groups” to go on field trips? Why does one group get this special treatment and privelege, but others do not? Most of the school board and a few staff should be ashamed of themselves. With all the budget and spending cuts to hear of this is apalling. A “kick off for our leadership initiative”???? Yeah right, nice try. I think they certainly could have found much better ways to encourage some kids to go to college then sending a select few on what seems like an extravagent, all expenses paid ($12,500!!!!!!) trip to Florida. By the way, can anyone tell me the percentage of African American & Latino males that attend Lakeville High Schools and also the percentage of them that then don’t attend college? Good luck with the referendum with careless spending such as this. I can’t end this without saying hats off to Jim Skelly for have a spine and common sense, something most of the other board members are obviously lacking.

    • GCL

      You pose great questions in your first two sentences that should be answered by the board. The only thing the board should be ashamed of in reference to this decision is that they didn’t start approving educational trips like this sooner. As far as a “Leadership Initiative” well you must not blame them for coming up with such a name. What if they called it the “Mentor Program?” or maybe the “Motivational Program?” would that work? My point is that it doesn’t matter what they call it as long as every child has access regardless of color. Did anyone ask the students of “non-color” if they wanted to attend? Maybe a survey should be conducted? It would be interesting to see how many would want to go to Florida and hear motivational speaking. I’m willing to bet, very few if any.
      Maybe you should find out what is the percentage of African American and Latino males that attend Lakeville high schools. It’s throwing a dart in the dark, but I bet it’s less than 1%. Having such a small percentage of ethnic diversity integrated in the school system places students of “non-color” at a disadvantage. A disadvantage that will manifest into a serious problem when in the presence of other cultures. Cultural ignorance and lack of “Sociodiplomacy” are unacceptable in a large world that is the size of a Pro V1 golf ball. Give all the kids a chance and aspire to greatness through motivation from world leaders. Allow them the presence of mind to think “out of Lakeville.”
      If you want to increase spending where it’s needed, by increasing budgets as a whole maybe the school district should try the following:

      • Charge an annual attendance fee of $100 per student.
      • Cut a win/win deal with the pension holders and pay them outright (lump sum) or reduce the amount of eligible years.
      • Mandatory testing and annual performance evaluations for all teachers. (For less turnover and more accountability)
      • Include a “no-fault” termination clause in the employment contract

  • Love the water

    I wonder if they voted yes because it was a minority/race event. This way they can look like they do not discriminate even though it was against policies and procedures. ‘we went above and beyond for minorities in our school district’.

  • Eric

    I don’t remember these postions at my school:

    District 194 Teaching and Learning Services Director
    Activities Director
    District Equity Coordinator

    Maybe this school district is getting too top heavy?

    • Ed Supporter

      Eric – You don’t say which school you went to, or when, but:

      - I’m pretty sure there was someone in your district that was responsible for curriculum. That’s what the Teaching and Learning Services Director does.

      - I’m also fairly certain that your district had an Athletic Director. The Activities Director is a much-expanded version of that, incorporating activities that have nothing to do with athletics.

      - My guess (admittedly, just a guess) is that the Equity Coordinator is necessary because (excerpted from the Lakeville Public schools web site at http://bit.ly/ZjnKPq):

      “Educational Equity and Excellence Services was established in the 2006/2007 school year in response to the State of Minnesota’s Desegregation Rule. The Burnsville School district (ISD 191) was identified as the racially isolated district and Lakeville as the adjoining district. Both districts were required to develop a plan that promotes integration, helps to close existing achievement gaps between groups of students and /or offer increased opportunities for academic acceleration.”

      Schools have changed, for sure. We also didn’t have to contend with the standardized testing brought on by the No Child Left Behind act and other unfunded government mandates. You can debate the need for the mandates, but not the need to comply with them.

    • big Dog

      I agree, way too top heavy

  • Billy Smith

    Vote no on referendum and vote the people who like to waste other peoples money out

  • Amy Willingham

    LAURA ADELMANN MISREPRESENTED the school district, the School Board and the superintendent in this article. These funds were NOT taken out of the General Fund. They were specific funds for this type of opportunity that would be lost if they were not used. I thought the same thing when I read the article, “Wow, this is a misuse of the District’s dollars,” when I was informed that she misconstrued the facts. POOR INTEGRITY IN JOURNALISM if you ask me. Laura Adelmann is inserting her own viewpoint into this article and it is having the desired effect: more mistrust of the district. This experience has opened my eyes to the power of poor journalism. People think that if it is written down in a local paper it must be truthful. I challenge Laura Adelmann to get her facts straight and recant ON THE FRONT PAGE.

    • Jan Dobson

      In the interest of getting your own facts straight, Amy, reread the above article. Especially paragraph seven. In my opinion, you owe the author an apology.

      • J. Guentzel

        Paragraph 7 is found on page 15A in the Sun Thisweek newspaper. Many people just read the front page where the information was definitley skewed and lacked important facts that Lakeville tax payers deserve to have. The money used for the trip was out of Integration Equity Money not General Fund money. The title of the article says, ” District funds all-expense -paid trip to Florida.” This title is misleading. The title should say, Federal Stimiulous Money or Grant Money or Integration Equity Money was used to fund the trip. Also, the 6 pictures on the front page in the paper were not pictures of where the students and staff actually stayed. I too challenge Laura Adelman to get her facts straight and to recant on the front page.
        I have confindence that the district will educate the public on the true facts of this trip and other hot issues in our district. The Sun Thisweek needs to put those factual articles that tax payers deserve on the front page!

      • J.Guentzel

        Laura, Why is Paragraph 7 in this web format different than paragraph 7 in the paper format? This sentence, “The trip was funded with Integration & Equity grant dollars, which are used to promote college readiness and close the achievement gap for underserved populations.” is nowhere to be found in your article in the paper version Sun Thisweek. As stated earlier, you need to apologize for not putting facts in the local paper. This type of journalism is not acceptable to me or any Lakeville tax payers. Please step up to the plate. You need to recant this article.

        • http://sunthisweek.com Laura Adelmann

          This is Laura Adelmann. I appreciate all the conversation about this story, and because the question was asked directly, let me try to throw some light on why the story online is different from the print version. Contrary to what a lot of people must have assumed, this story is not the result of some major investigation on the paper’s part. It was only a recant of School Board discussion at the Feb. 12 meeting, as can be viewed on the district website. The funding source was not discussed too much, except for School Board Member Bob Erickson’s explanation as to why he abstained from the vote. The story’s main focus was that the district, in contrary to its own policies, sent a handful of students to Florida for a conference that the board agreed the district would pay for — again, the source of the funding was not deeply discussed, and as the story was a report of the meeting, that is what was included in the story. Also, according to the state, integration revenue is distributed on a per-pupil formula, and is paid 70 percent from State aid and 30 percent from local levy. Lakeville School District policy states students are to pay for their own extended field trips. There are only two exceptions to this, per district policy, and neither of them applied in this case. The reason the paragraphs are different in the print and online version is because the district contacted us and requested the funding source be made more clear, and online is the quickest way to clarify stories. There is a correction regarding that information that is running in the paper this week. Which pot of money the district used to fund the trip was not the point of the story, because it was not the main point made in the meeting. The main point in the meeting was about disregarding district policy. I very much appreciate all the comments, and understand the confusion. I hope this note clears some of that up!

          • A. Huntsinger

            I viewed the board meeting on-line. It was the first meeting I had ever viewed on-line and I was disgusted how easily they approved a $12,500 trip for 6 students. I sent a message to the board and Super Intendant on 2/26 voicing my disappointment and they never once got back to me regarding how it was funded etc. (and this was not discussed at the board meeting either). I’m not even sure they could adequately defend using Intergration Funds for this trip as it is a gray area. After looking up some information on-line, I’m not sure it falls within those guidelines because it benefited only a small minority group. I wonder if this is why Bob Erickson abstained from voting as he is on the task force. I just don’t think you can take the attitude that it was OK because they used Integration Revenue. Those funds could still have been used for something else to the benefit of many more underserved students in our district. This trip served only 6 MALE students. I’m pretty sure there are female black and latino students who face similar challenges or students of other cultures. The fact is that this was blatantly not fair. I wonder how many students they could have sent to similar conferences if they did it locally. I wonder if we sent the wrong message of entitlement to these 6 students that they had to do no fundraising when other groups have to.

            As a taxpayer with kids in the district, I am going to make a better point of making sure I know what is going on. I’m seeing more information about how lean our district runs but before I vote to pass a levy I want to make sure additional funds are used to benefit my children and the majority of children in the district and not for more administrative waste and social programs that in my opinion fall outside the scope of educating our children.

            I think we’ve got to watch, listen and ask questions. If they want a levy passed, The Board of Education has to do their part by answering our questions. Some of the information is out there and we just need to access it. I urge everyone to go to the district website and sign up to get on their e-mail list.
            http://www.isd194.k12.mn.us/pages/Lakeville_SD There is also link to all the recorded board meetings.

          • Jen

            Thank you very much Laura Adelmann. You just put the last nail in the coffin for any hope of passing a voter referendum for lowering classes sizes in the district. I have 3 kids in this school district. There is no way, with all the unsupportive members of this community, we will ever be able to pass anything. Your story, with the headline “District funds all-expense-paid trip to Florida” with 6 pictures of a luxurious hotel underneath it, was inexcuseable and shameless. Were those pictures a part of the recant of the School Board discussion on Feb 12th meeting?

          • Raj M

            When will A. Huntsinger express “disgust” for the moneys spent on ice hockey, ice skating and other “inclusive” sports. What about the “entitlement” in these exclusive sports, which are subsidized by gasp those “minorities”.

            The trip she talks about, and as far as we know, was probably the culmination of a year round activity at the school. Judging just the trip in isolation is blatantly misleading. That would be like judging the cost of a Science Olympiad trip divided by those who got to represent the school.

    • Love the water

      “lost if not used” – all gov’t funded entities quote this all the time. This was the same quote used when the schoolboard approved Lakeville North to install artifical turf at the football field. After it was past and the residents cried foul the schoolboard responded by saying that with turf they would be able to rent out the field to other high schools for games. Three years later, they would be hard pressed to show where it was rented out for another high school game.

      “lost if not used” – It is the same line I hear from my neighbor who is a police officer in our suburb – if the police dept doesn’t spend this money it will be lost so they go out and replace equipment that didn’t need replaced at this time.

      It is time to look at programs that were added in 2005, 2006 & 2007 when funding was strong. These school programs came into existence when times were good i.e. high school lacrosse. They should be the first to go unless its required by law, i.e. special ed funding.

      We must pass the referendum because the city is going to start suffering from poor schools, but also get intelligent & experienced people running our schoolboard(and our schools) who can also properly educate the voters of Lakeville who do not have kids in the school district to vote yes.

  • Ben There

    Hey love the water!

    You said “Three years later, they would be hard pressed to show where it was rented out for another high school game.” You’re wrong!

    The MSHSL uses turf fields for the Class 3A, 4A, and 5A section playoff games. I watched Blue Earth play St. Croix Lutheran last fall at the LNHS stadium. The year before I watched Mankato West play. There were more games there that I did not attend. Youth football has used the turf for youth games. Please refrain from suggesting that school officials somehow misled you on this. Get your facts straight.

    • Love the water

      Hey Ben There – thanks for pointing this out! I am glad it is being used. Any idea how much is paid to rent the field? Did the school host games prior to turf being installed?
      .

      • Because of the water

        Don’t forget Lakeville South Football having to play most of their season on the North turf in 2011 due to the grass field at LSHS being unusable. Lakeville Soccer Club also rents the field for early season training when fields are too wet to play on and for games throughout the summer.

        BTW, if they had also bought a removable dome when they did the turf it would have paid for itself in less than 5 years. After that, winter rentals would have generated over $400,000 a year.

  • J Walker

    I am almost more concerned that there are multiple people responding to this article that don’t know how to spell “superintendent”.

    • Ed Supporter

      Yes, J., the people criticizing our schools and our administrators would be so much more credible if they could spell correctly and write in complete sentences.

      • Done that

        You can nitpick spelling, but in the end you have no argument so you get defensive by picking out grammatical errors

        • Jan Dobson

          You’re right, Done that. That’s how thread bullies work.

          1. Unable to offer intellectual argument, they single out an individual or a group.
          2. They identify or invent some irrelevant aspect or trait of that individual or group.
          3. They caricaturize that irrelevant aspect or trait to generate public humiliation for the purpose of controlling the individual or group.
          4. They keep repeating, repeating, repeating until their distortions take on fake credibility simply by becoming familiar.

          Yup, it stinks. But, once the low tactic is recognized, it results in a self-inflicted strike of pettiness against the bully instead of a hit on his/her target.

  • Ben There

    The football and baseball fields at LNHS were barely usable for Lakeville High School (North) because of water and drainage issues before installing the turf. Lakeville North actually had to reschedule a homecoming game to different city in order to play on a safe field. The football field was a swamp. Baseball practiced and played the majority of their games at Elko. It would take until mid May for the fields to be dry enough.

  • Molly Cochran

    I thought this article in print was very fishy. I appreciate Laura’s reporting, but challenge her to report all the facts next time not just some of the facts. Showing pictures of the conference location also sensationalized the story. Please don’t sensationalize, tell us the facts. If you don’t know the facts, ask questions and follow up. Just reporting on the Board meeting without knowing all the facts is NOT ok. The TRUE story would not have made front page news. I’m very disappointed with this misleading story and disappointed with the sensationalization. I knew it was untrue the moment I saw the headline and pictures. Now I will question every article I see in this paper.

  • Love the water

    Thanks for pointing our all the uses that the field gets! The school board should let all voters know that they are good stewards with our money and give us these examples. We should give them more! Vote Yes in November. Great schools = great/high home values = less riffraff

    • Pam Johnson

      What kind of riffraff are we trying to keep out?

  • Lakeville Senior

    Open the checkbook this November!!!

  • Dumb

    Still a waste of $13000. These kids got a free trip to Hotlanta

    • MMB

      They didn’t go to Hotlanta; re-read the article. That is not the point of this whole discussion.

  • GCL

    After digesting the article by Laura Adelman and the comments that followed, it is apparent that the disconnect between what is better for the overall well being of our society and what is politically correct is continuously being criticized by the shallow opinions of people that denote significant ignorance.
    These individuals are not to be held accountable for their undeniable lack of knowledge and cultural awareness, as they have been brought up with much cultural ignorance and that bending the rules to do what is right, does not trump political correctness.
    After it was confirmed that the “Students of color” showed an interest in participating in this educational opportunity, Superintendent Lisa Snyder signed off on the request. She had to be careful, as the only exceptions for a trip where the board can rubber stamp an approval without the 30 day protocol are sporting events and emergencies. Unfortunately both circumstances still remain in the same order of priority, of which I encourage the board to think through. All in all, in spite of all the criticism, the thought process, or lack of a clear thought process by the board doesn’t matter in this case. The board and Lisa Snyder, with the exception of Skelly made the correct choice in sending these boys. A group of “Students of color” who may have been influenced enough; that in the future may want to lead this multicultural society.
    I am happy to announce that according to Knudsen the board has integration goals. If this means integrating other ethnicities into what is a predominantly homogeneous school system, congratulations to the board. Whether the local citizens of Lakeville like it or not, the United States is becoming more of a multicultural society by the minute with Hispanics leading the way as the fastest growing minority group. Raising children without any “sociodiplomacy” or cultural knowledge is simply ignorant and counter-educational. Most of the children in Lakeville will not have the chance to travel the globe and immerse themselves in different cultures. The result will be a limited understanding of how different cultures think and act at a global level, limiting them to the familiar surroundings of Lakeville. These kids will become adults that ask questions such as, and by the way my favorite, “Do you speak Mexican?” or, “What language do they speak in Spain?”

  • white

    I think the real problem with this article that nobody wants to address is the title of the program. “Black, Brown, and college bound.” I am all for closing achievement gaps, but when does the color of one’s skin define their achievements? I think as a community and government, we need to support all individuals, especially our children, regardless of their race! This is 2013 people. We need to do away with racism even if it is reverse racism!

    • Former Teacher

      If you think that race and achievement gaps don’t go hand in hand, you are badly mistaken. You can read the article that I attached or you can just Google it yourself: race and achievement gap. Unfortunately, if you are black you are much more likely to fall below the “average” line. We still have a race problem in this country, and to ignore that is the worst and most ignorant thing that you can do.

      http://minncan.org/news-blog/media-room/new-data-shows-minnesota%E2%80%99s-achievement-gap-widening

      • Joe

        While this article points out that race and achievement gap is related, the article didn’t elude to why. Maybe that is because no program or money infusion to the school will help it, or maybe if it could be if spent correctly.

        I believe that achievement gaps become prevalent in homes where parents are not able to assist with a child’s homework and having those educational lessons reinforced at home. I don’t think that this is based on race but rather on economic factors. Poor people, generally, make less money and often work more hours. So those parents are not around as much to help with studies. Also, we can tie the income gap to an educational gap. Those making less money may not have the knowledge to assist with homework. This is not an issue of race but there are a disproportionate amount of people of color in this economic group.

        The best thing we can do to close the education and income gap is to have reinforcement of educational principles at home as well as at school. This may just come down to a generational issue of having more parents with high school and college degrees. I do understand that afterschool programs can help but the reinforcement I am referring to is on a constant basis at home. I believe this is the challenge of ending the education gap.

    • MMB

      If you are for closing achievement gaps, then how can you argue against this type of program? Black, Brown & College Bound is specifically aimed at closing the achievement gap that exists for African-American and Latino men. It is not reverse racism; it is a fact that far less African-American and Latino men are earning associate or bachelor’s degrees than white or Asian men. The most effective way to address that problem is to specifically reach out and offer help to them. One’s personal discomfort with the title of an educational program shouldn’t be a reason to be against that educational program. Here is their website if you are interested in researching what they do, instead of making a baseless snap judgment: http://www.hccfl.edu/bbcb.aspx.

      The title of the program/summit and where it was held aren’t the issues here. The main problem with this entire story is the blatant lack and disregard of professional journalism by the author. Even after the author is called out on her error she is still unable to apologize and accept responsibility, which only further proves her total lack of understanding of what went on in this story.

      To quote the author in a previous comment in this thread, “Which pot of money the district used to fund the trip was not the point of the story, because it was not the main point made in the meeting. The main point in the meeting was about disregarding district policy.” If, according to the author’s own words, the main point of the story was NOT about which pot of money the district used to fund this trip WHY WOULD YOU GIVE THE STORY THE TITLE, “Lakeville Public School District funds all-expense-paid trip to Florida”???? The answer: because it makes a better, more eye catching story, even if the facts aren’t true (and in this case they aren’t). If the author’s main point was to bring to light that the school board disregarded a district policy, then give the story a title that reflects that point.

      Then the author tries to say that the point of the story is that they disregarded district policy, “Lakeville School District policy states students are to pay for their own extended field trips. There are only two exceptions to this, per district policy, and neither of them applied in this case.” She’s right: neither applied in this case because it wasn’t funded by the district at all. The author once again points out that she didn’t check her facts and clearly doesn’t understand how the district policies work (in this case, the district policy that students have to pay their own way on extended field trips does not apply because it was funded by grant money; none of it came out of the district’s general funding).

      Here’s the bottom line regarding this story: The author did not check her facts or take the time to research or understand how the Lakeville School District policies work in relation to this educational opportunity before sending this story to print. Unfortunately her intentions with this article were to create a divide between the Lakeville community and the Lakeville school board. She also chose to make the story into a negative experience as opposed to showing how the Lakeville School Board came together in an effort to close the achievement gap that exists in our own community. Congratulations on taking a story that could have been painted in a positive light and turning it into your own biased, negative, and community-dividing issue. The next time you, or any other “journalist” at this newspaper have a question about how the Lakeville school board handled their money, do what any credible journalist would do; interview them, ask questions, do your research, and get your facts straight before publishing a front page story. Don’t write you own self-serving, slanted, and factually incorrect article and put it before our entire community as the truth.

  • Joe

    Just a few thoughts on this article and on the field trip: Ms Adelmann didn’t write this article as a way of highlighting procedural issues on the Board. It was a juicy article about how dollars are being spent. Good for her! She should write articles like this because, as we can see, it is getting a lot of attention about what is going on in our district.

    Even after her clarification post I am still a little confused of where the money came from and why it even needed to be approved by the Board. If Dr. Snyder obtained the grant with the expressed purpose of sending these students on this trip, than I don’t see why it is a big deal. She just needs to make sure the money is used to benefit other types of students next time. If the money, in whole or part comes from the general fund or as a part of a levy then it is a different issue. Despite funding sources I believe the students on the trip should have had to contribute a portion of the cost through fundraising or out of their pocket. This would allow them to have greater appreciation for the experience.

    I would like to challenge a validity of the trip chosen. I looked at the speakers list and found that while the speakers were accomplished in their fields, they didn’t represent a wide range of fields. The inspiration that was brought forward would be to become a professor or an activist. Where were the business leaders, people in hard sciences, or people with technical careers? These are the areas of growth for our youth but no speakers in those areas. They were just missing a professional athlete and pop superstar on their speaking list. I would like to see them go to an event that provide a much larger range of future opportunities, going to a traditional four-year university should be one of those options.

    Finally, and this may have been the case but there has been no mention of it, I feel the students and staff should have been asked to create a report detailing their experience on the trip, how it helped them, how it could help others in the future, and how it will help the school district. This report should be presented, both orally and written, to the school board by the students and staff. This would be yet another educational opportunity for those students with real world application for their careers.

    • Bell

      Joe – You will see a wonderful “report” if you view the School Board Meeting (3-12-13).
      I appreciate that School Board member, Michelle Volk, requested follow through – just as a good parent would do. Please watch it!

      • Joe

        I actually watched it live on Public access TV the next night. While I am glad they brought the staff and students in frot of the board and are asking for future updates, I still think thay should have had the students present a formal oral report. That is what would be expected in a corpoate enviroment and it would have been a great experience for them.

  • Rosie from Rosemount

    “Use it or lose it.”

    It is not lost; it goes back to the taxpayer from whence it came, or to reduce the budget in the next cycle, offsetting taxpayer contribution in that cycle. This is not “free” money as some would like us to think. It is money that we all earned, gave to a public entity to be handled responsibly, and if unspent, then returned.

    Additionally, it is stated that 70% comes from a government entity outside of the school district (I will add, this 70% is again collected from all of our earnings, and again it is NOT “free money”) and the 30% balance does indeed come from the school district, whether that is from the district’s general fund or for an earmark is not relevant. What matters is whether the school board is wasting money. That is a lot of money to spend on a few children. This is not a case of special education, handicap or special accommodation for an illness or something similar. It is time to vote your school board off the island, fire the superintendent, and start from scratch with people who value money AND value education.

    Jen, you need to think about your statement. I see no issue with criticizing those we elected and pointing the finger when appropriate. Don’t blame the author, blame the elected officials and the superintendent for this mess.

  • Lakeville Senior

    The commentary relating to this article is a real problem the voters of this school district has. You have four groups in the school district:
    1) the group with kids in school that are seeing the impacts of budget cuts and will vote for any additional funding.

    2) the lower middle class/poor that will vote no because they cannot afford an increase in property taxes.

    3) the older group whose kids are no longer in the Lakeville school district who don’t understand the benefit of funding schools because they do not see the benefit to them

    4) the older group whose grandkids are in the lakeville school district who understand the benefit of funding schools and will vote yes.

    We seem to market these referendums to group #1. We know we will never get group #2 to vote. The reason the referendums fail is because the school district does not know how to market to group #3. Targeting group number three is what will get these referendums passed. How do you get group #3 to vote: Spell out what the money is going to fund and do not mention the words “technology”, “ipads”, “athletics”. Instead use this money to fund “smaller class sizes”, “music & arts”, “repairs & maintenance to schools”. The teachers, administrators and school board need to get out to the community this summer and tell them about the importance of having good schools in Lakeville. Get over to the senior center and talk. Get to the church functions and talk. Get door knocking in the areas that voted “No” last time and talk – just like Mayor Little did.

    Jobs and home values are on the line.

  • Common sense

    I think much of the arguement has been lost on the simple fact that procedures were not met and followed at the board level. What Jim Skelly said was that the required time to render a decision was not met. He would not support this at a time when budget cuts are being tabled . Regardless of location and conference potential benefits to our community. This conference will occur again and the rush to meet this conference deadlline seems questionable. Why not plan for the conference the following year. I am sure if this conference was in Fargo North Dakota and we sent kids to this we would not be having this debate. Lets face it the fact that it was held in a sunny destination only adds fuel to the fire here.

    In the real world in business a budget is planned for It isn’t rushed and it certainly isn’t spent if we don’t have the funds or the time for a full review . If Rules and guidlines are not followed and the board needs to rush to a decision than we need to think about the value it has to our community . I agree with Jim Skelly that we need to review other means to supporting activities , fund raising comes to mind to support kids in education , mission trips ect . I can’t tell you how many times I have offered up money to kids who come to my door looking for a donation to a cause that I think has merit . I recognize that the participants had a great experience but it should only be approved if the board feels it can sustain the financial cost .

    As rewarding as the trip may have been if the guidlines could not be met with a short timeline than perhaps the answer should have been maybe next year and perhaps we should consider sending a group from all schools in the district not just North and build a plan to fund raise for a portion of the trip .

    Jim Skelly was on the right track we need time to decide the absolute value here. This did not happen in my view

    • Love the water

      Common Sense – Very well articulated. Thank you.

      • Lakeview parent

        Why do we have to go to Tampa to learn about going to college. Don’t we have teachers and administrators within our school district who can COMMUNICATE the importances of going to college to get a degree. You can pick up a newspaper and see the benefits of getting a higher education and/or technical training in an area that interests the student.

        • MMB

          if the way to close the achievement gap were as easy as having teachers and administrators talk to students, we wouldn’t have an achievement gap in every every district, in every state of this country.

          • Rosie from Rosemount

            MMB, in this case the achievement gap is measured between specific demographics within the school district. If you were to go visit the US Dept. of Ed website you would find that no achievement gap exists in the same or similar situation for this demographic in places like East Los Angeles, CA, Gary, Indiana, and Hancock, MI. This is just a sampling of venues, but the gap does not exist in the vast majority of schools in the US. I defer to your reason as to what the facts are in Lakeville and what the facts are not.

          • Raj M

            No achievement gap. A totally false statement.

            “For example, special analyses by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2009 and 2011 showed that black and Hispanic students trailed their white peers by an average of more than 20 test-score points on the NAEP math and reading assessments at 4th and 8th grades, a difference of about two grade levels. These gaps persisted even though the score differentials between black and white students narrowed between 1992 and 2007 in 4th grade math and reading and 8th grade math (NCES, 2009, 2011).”

            http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/achievement-gap/

      • common sense

        Love the water

        I have read back some the comments , I was very surprised to see your remark about the Lacrosse program and the use of the turf. My view the turf has expanded the use of this field and miltiple sports have benefited from its use. I am not sure if you have been over to the sports fields over at either Eden Prairie or Chanhassen but I can tell you that we were well behind the times. i am not sure if you have seen the fantastic two new High schools in the district that have gone up since 2005 . All these things have value and continue to enrich our communities and of course in a good stable economy property values.

        I take it that you are not a strong supporter of Lacrosse but are you aware that Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the country of which Minnesota is the largest state with its growth . I can also tell you that both North and South raise funds to finance the coaching staff with an active booster teams of parents so that it can sustain itself.

        You mentioned lacrosse but regardless of the sport or club that are kids join we should embrace the fact that they are getting out of the class room and competing or just participating in activities.

        Back to this article the key take away for me is I do not want our board to make hasty decision with out full review . Decision based on zero based budgets are rarely positive and one that come to the board with out a full review should be tabled for discussion and voted upon once a full review can be done.
        This is a fantastic community with talented kids of all shapes and colors and I hope we have the courage to understand that to keep it this way .

        If it has merit I would hope that we do expand our minds towards these type of activities but it must follow the correct due process which Jim Skelly understands from what was quoted in the article.

    • Raj M

      Is Jim Skelly using “procedure” as an excuse. I don’t know the answer. But i’m quite sure that if it was such a violation the other board members would have noticed. Somehow it looks like Mr Skelly is just playing “budget balancing hero”.

      Is Mr Skelly going to, or did he ever , use the same yard stick to measure the inclusivity and subsidies to ice hockey. I’m not holding my breath.

      • Common sense

        Raj M

        I can’t comment on other activities as it woudld be speculation on my part to know how Jim Skelly may have voted on other issues. I would hope that all board members use some common sense procedures in voting but in this instance it appears the other board members voted yes to the trip.
        My issue is that it should never have been brought to a vote as the guidlines were not met to have this brought to a vote. The trip should never have happened because the board had limited time to review. I am sure given time and following due process it may have been approved . It may have been more money and more kids from multiple schools. Fact is that didn’t happen and perhaps more kids could have had the experience. Rules need to be followed and if they were it would never have come to a rush to judgement vote.

        • Raj M

          CS

          The “guidelines” were just what they were guidelines. That the board had limited time to review, is an opinion stated by ONE board member.

          And the same board member and his supporters would behoove their credibility if they could state how he voted on subsidies to ice hockey.

      • Rosie from Rosemount

        Raj M,

        The point seems to be that the guidelines were not followed,a nd although noticed, it was ignored.

        As far as Ice Hockey, if you are an exceptional player, you get to play. But as far as the subsidy in contention, one need only be non-white to receive a grant,and receive it in a questionable manner, and there is no metric attached as to its effectivness in retarding the problem, if there really is a problem.

        Oh, and what is the problem with following procedeure? Or, ewhat is the problem with being a “Budget Hero?” I think Budget Heros are really hot and sexy!

        • Raj M

          There is no proof other than a single board member that this was some major revision from the guidelines. That’s his, and your, opinion.

          What is the minority participation in Hockey in that school. I think your answer will highlight the hypocrisy.

          Sure being a “Budget Hero” would have credibility if he questioned budget allocations to ice hockey. That that would be sexy and inconvenient question !!!

          • common sense

            Raj

            You do understand that Ice hockey is paid for by the parents of the players once a kid makes a team right .? You do understand that procedures are not a matter of opinion but a matter of record.? Your comments basically is saying that his no vote had racial overtones and quite honestly your repsonse I don’t think is warranted. Guidlines and procedures are in place and expected to be followed. The conference didn;t pop up out of thin air so have you ever questioned why it took this group so long to bring such a valuable conference to the board for approval? You are so focused on the 3 yes votes and what we are all pretty much telling you yes or no it should not have come to a rush vote. That is all.

            Your comments towards Jim Skelly are not warranted. Suggest you find some fault in the hands of the people who submitted the request very late.

          • Raj

            Common Sense

            You understand that the school district pays of the bonds for constructing the ice hockey ? You understand that fees paid by parents hardly covers the entire cost of that sport ? You do understand that the “procedure” was not supported by the other board members.

            I did not bring race into this. However i’ve asked a few pointed questions about equity. If Jim Skelly was so concerned about the rules and equity, then i would like to see his record regarding funding/subsidizing ice hockey. Are the inequities so glaring that are they starting to embarrass people. Sure. But that’s the record. I’m merely pointing them out.

            The “guidelines” that you bring up are solely the opinion of a single board member. And you posit them as some kind of holy grail of rules.

  • Lakeview parent

    I was just at the 1st grade and 2nd grade singing/music program last night for Lakeview elementary. There were over 200 kids with huge smiles singing their hearts out. This is why we need music and art still taught in our elementary schools. For those saying that we should pay a fee for these classes – we do – it is part of our property taxes. Job well done to Mrs. D and Principal Pete. Note: this school boundary residents in southern Lakeville consistently vote yes for the referendums – they understand the importance of quality schools.

  • 194 Parent

    Good conversation!
    However, I am wondering why we are spending so much time talking about a $12,500 trip when the School Board made a $450,000 decision because they did not have all of the information they wanted. The $12,500 is not a drop in the bucket but it is minor in comparison to the $450,000/year in savings that the Board took off the table when considering restructuring from the dean model to a more conventional model. I agree this is a larger issue, but taking a suggestion off the table with out the proper research is just not fiscally responsible. The suggestion to change the model has been brought up many times over the last several years. ISD 194′s own research indicates that limiting administrator expenses is important to the community. Why is the School Board not listening? I cannot see how it is responsible to pay well over $100,000/year to four people (administrators) at one school when you could have five people (administrator/counselors) for less money ($450,000/year per the proposed budget if done at both high schools and three middle schools). Please take the time to see what the board is doing with our money before it is too late. The $12,500 is gone, lets not make it $450,000/year more!

    I have always and will always be a vote yes supporter (the kids do not need to suffer to teach the board a lesson) but things like this help me understand why people are so strongly apposed to voting yes.

    • Common sense

      194 Parent

      I think we are on the same page to some degree. Regardless of the dollar value procedures need to be followed. I want to see the lives enriched for all the students in the school district. If value can be gained by such a trip fantastic. But if such a trip had such a value than I will assume it has a yearly or bi yearly occurance which provides the board with time to evaluate and participants the option to fund raise to invest in the experience.

      Money doesn’t grow on trees but flies from tax payers pockets. Important lesson for these kids as well ” There is no such thing as a free Lunch”. Rubber stamp approvals in this occurance or others regardless of the value needs explorations for value and should not be executed until this is completed. Jim Skelly’s “no” was warranted. I wish the other board members followed the rules as well.

      • Raj M

        CS

        Why the assumption that only Jim Skelly was following “rules”. There were four other board members, who thought otherwise. Just because the other four voted for it, and you do not agree with it, does not make them “rubber stamps”.

        • common sense

          Raj

          The shortness of time was a matter of record . I suggest you research your facts before jumping to conclusion that the 3 yes votes made it correct. Can a vote be given in the matter of public emergency yes it can ( because the guidlines and procedures have a provision for this . Was this an emergency no. You keep looking to Jim’s vote a racially motivated. Have ever question that the 3 board members out of this exact fear voted yes to appease people like you.
          while you are doing your research how about looking to see how lon this conference was posted as available , I would put money on it that it was likely longer than a year.

          • Raj

            Common Sense

            Firstly the rule was for school sponsored trips. This was paid by state/federal funds. A fact totally omitted by you. So if you are such a stickler for rules how is it that you omit/overlook such facts.

            Once again, that this rule was some inviolate rule, is your opinion. Citizens elect board members to make judgements. The other board members made a judgement.

            You and Jim Skelly happen to disagree and raise a stink. I’ve asked some pointed questions about ice hockey to determine to judge Mr Skellys’ credibility about being the budget hero. And the questions seem to be quite inconvenient to you, that u won’t answer them. Why ? Do we know what the subsidy for ice hockey is. Can we examine the record to see if “rules” were followed each and every time for “ice hockey” ?

            As a parent, who has put his kid thru school and seen what exactly “equity” is in schools,, i have a right to ask such questions. However, i do realize the answers may be too inconvenient.

  • Rosie from Rosemount

    Raj M,

    If you wish to again read my post and the data from the US Dept of Ed, I am making comparisons within schools and wondering why the data seems to be so different. Indeed, and as I stated, and as is the metric used in Lakeville, most schools do not have a gap between demographics within the school or school district. Is there a gap in Lakeville? What is the size of this gap and what is its root cause? Is there a national gap between demographics? Again, I apply the same line of questioning to such statistics. If the gap is significant in some areas and not in others, what is the cause? Will throwing money at such a potential gap fix the problem? Will spending an additional $3000-$4000 per student, as is the obvious case in Lakeville, really solve anything? Trying different things is one thing, but measuring results of money spent is better.

    • Raj M

      I posted a link to prove the achievement gap You did not. For your assertions to have credibility back them up with proven facts, not your fears.

      Whether spending money on achievement gap or not, is not my case. You just claimed there were none. With no proof to back it up.

  • Brian Rossow

    CLARIFICATION OF THE ISSUE EMAILED TO THE PAPER FROM SUPERINTENDENT.

    Dear Sun ThisWeek Editor:
    Last week’s edition of the Sun ThisWeek painted our district very negatively at a time
    when we need our community the most. I have contacted the paper asking for balanced
    and accurate stories instead of articles and headlines that incite and sensationalize
    issues. I want to be sure all community members have access to accurate information.
    In response to the article, I would like to clarify a few points:
    While the conference was held at the Tampa Marriott Waterside, the group did not stay
    there. The students shared three rooms at an alternate hotel at a much lower cost. It
    was not a “trip,” but an educational opportunity.
    The conference was chosen due to its history of promoting higher education for
    underserved populations. I would also like to clarify that this opportunity was not funded
    through the district’s general fund. It was planned and funded from the Educational
    Equity & Excellence Service’s college readiness grant, which focuses on closing the
    achievement gap and follows the district’s strategic plan. These dollars must be used for
    these purposes in order to transform young lives and close the opportunity and
    achievement gaps.
    This was an incredible opportunity for seven young men from an underrepresented
    group of students to learn how to be leaders in our district and in their lives. It is
    unfortunate that this story was spun to be negative when it should have been portrayed
    as the transformational opportunity that it was and will continue to be.
    Minnesota has one of the largest achievement gaps in the country. In the past four
    years, our students of color have increased by 200 students. We now serve over 1500
    students of color. Although we have made great progress in narrowing the achievement
    gap, a gap still exists. Different people need different opportunities to succeed which is
    what our vision of world-class, personalized learning for every student means.
    I hope community members will consider learning more and I invite you to come and
    hear them speak at the next board meeting on March 12, 2013.
    Dr. Lisa L. Snyder
    Superintendent
    Lakeville Area Public Schools

  • common sense

    Raj once again I cannot speak to the cost of hockey or football, or Dance teams or debate teams or chess clubs for that matter can you tell me what you believe the cost to be?. I am not saying this trip is worthy or not worthy and I really don’t care how the school board funds these programs city or state or federal money .If it has merit I would expect the board to give any program including hockey and all the other activities fair time for financial review and vote ..

    Procedures are put in place for a reason and I do not believe they were followed. period. I do not believe that this trip should have happened this year period. Do I think it should have been looked at for future years ?no question. If any school district activity didn’t meet said guidlines or time to fund raise like for example choir trips to europe or Band trips to Arizona which the kids raise money to support this .
    A activity is brought to the board well in advance and a plan is presented.

    State funding I haven’t mentioned because it isn’t about money it is about following guidelines regardless of this trip or an unsheduled event ie hockey cost I would expect the rules to apply and I see no evidence to so say Jim Skelly has supported something out of line in our community . Jim has fairly been a pillar in our community as I am sure the other board members have been as well . I think we had a rush to judgement that blew past procedures that in future needs to be adhered.

    I support the arts and Sports and all activities that make our strong community what it is. I expect rules to be followed in our community , I don’t travel along a road and look at a speed limit and think that it is just an opinion . I don’t approach a stop sign and think I am above stopping and I don’t expect the school board to render decision to be granted or denied if the time to render a decision is not properly folllowed. You will notice in a previous commentary I said that I hoped that if this conference had such value I would hope that we would send more students from more schools in our district in future years if the time to fully review is allowed.

    So the time to do this for next year is now not later. Failure to do so now for future conferences make it look like a free trip to Florida and I would like to think that it had more to offer than a chance to get out of the cold. If this was a one of conference never to be held again than we need to again what purpose does it really serve??

    • Raj

      Common Sense

      Sure you would not, nor would i expect Jim Skelly to , talk about Hockey, or dance or baton twirling. Cause after all highlighting what the district spends on subsidizing some of those sports would be mighty inconvenient. After all, the grandstanding about tight budgets would be laid bare when the amount spent on such exclusive sports are brought out into the open. I guess budgets and rules matter only when they need to matter. More so when the money did not come out of the Districts’ budget !!!

      Just like you were wrong you wanted to claim that hockey parents paid for hockey, you are wrong that the “procedure” was some hard and fast measure. This was about allocating moneys from federal and state funds that would have gone wasted if not used this financial year. The “procedures” were for direct school district funds.
      Just because you liked the resultant outcome of a “procedure” does not make the “procedure” a procedure.

      What is at stake here is equity and opportunity. The school board (except for Jim) and the Administration found this to be a unique experience. I trust their judgement. All “procedures” have room judgement calls. Just like the rules for selecting a hockey team , dance team and baton teams have rules AND the coaches discretion.

      I don’t view my opinion like a discretionary speed limits. Rather i view your opinions as the person sitting on the left lane blocking traffic because you believe everyone should go at the speed limit you decide is appropriate.

      I’m Jim Skelly is a wonderful guy, But his opinion, count for only one of five opinions on the school board. And if he is going to talk about tight budgets then i see no harm in asking him questions about his budget votes on other discretionary items like ice hockey or baton twirling.

  • A. Huntsinger

    I was able to attend the 3-12-13 Board of Education meeting where the students who attended this conference got up and spoke about their experience. What impressed me most was the heartfelt gratitude they extended to the board for giving them the opportunity. It was nice to see.

    I still do not agree with the Board’s decision and I would hope that in the future the Board will consider the perception of taxpayers before making such decisions. The board never discussed funding when they approved this field trip and I would hope in the future they would include this as public record along with the approval. In addition, I personally voiced my disappointment to the Board and they never got back to me about the source of funding.

    I am extremely concerned about the financial state of our district. We do need help from our community. I have children in the district so I will always support a levy referendum. But when you spend $13,000 on 7 students with no explanation as to how it was paid for, it leaves the impression that our district is doing OK financially when it is not. My elementary students are in classes that are way to large. As a parent volunteer, I am often needing to lead small group instruction in a hallway. My children go to school with other children who need learning specialists and counselors. When they don’t get the help they need, they get disruptive and this effects all the students. Now we are having to cut a portion of those services from our budget.

    There is no point in debating the merits of this trip. At last nights board meeting many community members got up and debated the merits of smaller class sizes, physical education and guidance counselors and yet something is going to get cut.

    • Raj M

      Reading April Huntsinger’s letter, one could come to the conclusion that the financial backbone of the district has been broken. The last pennies in the school district have been spent and the doors are gonna close. How blithely one ignores the reality of politically convenient spending on sports like ice hockey etc, which dollar wise, basically benefit a miniscule percent of the school district.

      The previous statement by the author. “As far as impacting many students, I don’t agree that it will impact enough students whose parents pay taxes to the district”. I thought opportunities offered to students was distinct from their parents ability to pay. I guess not. Those darn freeloaders.

      As a parent who put kid thru school, i can easily point out that in most majority of decisions, the discretion used by school authorities hurts minority parents. Because if often is a political judgement and guess who looses.

      • Rosie from Rosemount

        Raj, that is well stated. Other than my gender, I am not a protected class. Especially in Minnesota we have difficulty embracing the perspective of minorities and applying fairness across the board. Education is many things, but in my strict view, I believe in education for education’s sake. This is not to say that career training is meaningless, but we have become a less literate society as we diminish the importance of reading, writing, math and history. It is ashame that WalMart has to spend nearly a month to train a 22 year old who has a high school diploma how to run a cash register and check-out line. I believe this is a direct result of education funding being funneled to non-educationally based agendas in our schools.

        To your point, there are many programs that serve, but not necessarily cater to, a demographic that is not a majority, whether that is athletic, arts, academic or others. I am all in favor of getting back to the basics in the schools. Schools should not be running social programs, they should be running education programs. Whether Lakeville or elsewhere, we are way off trackon this point in most of these united states.

    • Common sense

      Well stated

      I agree . I think we all want the board to be fiscally responsible for budgets and cutting and slashing needed school programs should not suffer in the process,. I know Raj $ 13000 is a drop in the ocean they spend on all the things you have already stated add zero value to the over all student body. We get it !!. I can promise you that spending funds for “Use it or lose it “isn’t going to solve the problem either. We need smaller class sizes and we need a focus on this soon. I also support the need to help finance these programs and I am happy to see my taxes increase as long as it is for the right reasons. I want to see the kids have a strong and prosperous futures that starts with quality education and well proportioned class size to teacher ratios.

      Well said and thank you for adding more common sense to the discussion

  • Common sense

    Well Raj

    Great debate but some times you just have to say time to agree to disagree. I see great value in many things including positive conferences when position right . My view is this wasn’t the case I know your view and don’t expect to change it.

    I grew up playing many sports and I can tell you some of the greatest memories I have in life and life lessons came from those days. It shaped who I am today. What you call wasted exclusive programs that are a waste of money and time I see as a valued time shaping our youth with team building and strong life lessons.

    Not once have I ever said this conference was a waste of time resources or money. Not once have i tried to steer others into that view. I merely think that we need rules and for them to be followed so that we don’t have situations where we are aimlessly making decisions .

    You obviously have a passion for this conference and I admire you for this. I certianly agree that the valuable life lesson occurs on more than just the soccer fields and Hockey arenas and swimming pools. I just think that a conference like the one in question suffered more from mis managed faculty advisors who may not have understood the due process. The fact is the decision has to be at times be maybe next year because we can’t render that decision this quickly. And yes if the topic was adding more funds for underfunded hockey I would expect the same due process to occur .

    I do expect rules to be followed I won’t apologize for that. I think Jim acted in this case in a responsible manner. I think the conference should have been tabled to next year if approved after full review . I am not a fan of spending money just because if you don’t use it you lose it. This is called a zero based budget. You spend for the sake of spending to much and you will go broke.
    Just ask the federal government or State why our taxes continue to rise .

    I think the kids should save or raise some money and learn a valuable less in funding things for themselves. Kids need to learn that everything in life is not free. Funds not spent today that are “use it or lose it” will be reallocated to where there is need. If this program has merit I would support it whole heartedly and if a student knocked on my door said they were fund raising for this trip I would gladly part with some money . Just as I do for mission trips and football sports cards that I feel bring value to our community

    Good luck Raj best we agree to disagree . Our votes for Jim Skelly next election will cancel each other out . Make sure you vote !!!

  • Love the water

    Just curious, are the AP teachers and their classes funded by the parents of the students who take these classes and get college credit? Are the residents of lakeville funding these “college classes” that are taught/tested in high school? If they are, maybe it’s time to cut these cost and you pay for your own college

    • Common sense

      Love the water

      There are kids in our school district that have special needs and some that need jsut a bit of help keeping up . I would assume if you kids don’t fall in this category that is great if they did you may feel differenly about it . The teaching aids and people who help in the school with these kids a long with people in the best buddies group help kids have a positive experience at school and feel part of the community .

      It is one of the areas of our school district that should bring you great pride .

      • Love the water

        I’m talking about the high school Advance Placement classes, not special needs classes. I am all for the funding of special needs and those with other learning disabilities. I am not for funding high school kids taking advance placement classes to get college credits at fraction of cost they would pay if they took them in college the following year

        • Common sense

          Thanks for the clarification . . I must admit though after sending my first child to College I wish we had taken some of those to cut some of the cost.

          With College tuition on the steady rise I think AP classes and coverage may be a deal breaker for some to afford college or bring down the over all cost of coverage.

          My wish if that my child not have a college bill that hangs around into there 30 ‘s I recognize however from a school district perspective we can’t afford services but agree that this option should come at some additional price .

    • Rosie from Rosemount

      Love,

      There are many levels aside from AP. To answer your question, no, parents do not fund AP, just as special needs parents do not fund for special classes or even pay for an aide who is with their child every minute of the school day, even in the washroom. Above AP is CIS, which are college courses taught by accredited teachers in the high school (College In Schools=CIS). This is in-part funded by the state, but parents have the financial responsibility of testing and other ancillary costs. If students get at least 3 out of 5 on the respective CIS exam, Minnesota colleges and universities are obliged to give the student credit in their freshman year for those courses without charging further fees or tuition.

      • Common sense

        Thanks Rosie

        Thanks Rosie so if I am reading this right you could potentially save half a year of college which full year cost can range from 25 k – 45 k per year . Not a bad saving in my eyes and one that as I stated above could be the difference between going to college or not. sounds like a valued program to me. As I have stated in other postings . I am for building a better enriched educational district . We as a community need to think about expanding options not limiting , but kids and faculty need to follow rules which is part of there educational experience about life. Any cost big or small state funded or not needs careful review. It is systems in place which help us navigate these waters. I know I have been criticized for expectations that rules needed to be followed but with out them it would cause more harm than good. The article may have been milsleading as to who was covering the cost , but the due process in my view was the larger issue. The board should never be forced to render a decision unless it is defined as an emergency which clearly this wasn’t. Just like a late like a late assignment due in kids classes. If it is handed in past the due date it is late. In this instance 3 of the four voting memebers in error bent the rules and are paying the price for it in public scrutiny . If they stick to the guildlines be it a decision around a conference or any other public interest or request they would be way better off.

        • Love the water

          If I understand your explanation correctly – AP classes may be beneficial to the respective students parents but how much is the Lakeville resident subsidizing these individual’s “college tuition”? We are cramming 35 students in elementary classrooms to meet budget demand while expanding and “subsidizing” Advance Placement classes for high school seniors who could take these exact classes the freshman year of college.

          • Rosie from Rosemount

            Love,

            The students must take certain courses anyway in order to reach the correct mix of credits for graduation requirments under state law. So whether one is taking basic science or AP science, or CIS science or remedial science, the credit hours are being achieved through the state’s formula. To your point, there is no subsidizing AP classes. In terms of CIS the cost to the taxpayer is more to cover the cost of St. Paul bureaucracy in assuring that the teachers who teach CIS are qualified. Teachers are not paid more to teach AP or CIS, although such courses are more often taught by teachers with experience and union seniority who receive more pay than a starting teacher. As indicated, ancillary costs are the burden of the family, not the Lakeville taxpayer. These are good programs, and coming from me, a critic of our education system, that says a lot. If you want to cut costs, reduce class sizes and have better educated students, then cut the bureaucracy, give the ability to retain good teachers and fire underperforming teachers, and turn the schools back into campuses of education and not a divison of social services. Go look at the headcount of administrative personnel versus teachers, and you will have your answer as to why things are so awry. Go look at the union contract and you will understand why poor teachers are retained and at the end of the day students are poorly educated.

  • Andy Charrier

    Love – The AP classes are packed to the gills too. Kids sit on the floor. In 2005 they were smaller classes but they are now as densely packed as any class.

    Rosie – CIS gets your credit for college’s in MN. AP you get credit at any college in America.

    • Rosie from Rosemount

      But Andy, CIS carries a warranty of being accepted, but AP does not. Additioanlly, while a college may accept AP credit (not all colleges do), they may actually require the student to purchase the respective course hours.

      Yes, it is a crazy, crazy world.

    • Raj M

      ” AP you get credit at any college in America.” – Most but not all.

  • Love the water

    Rosie, than you for the AP explanations.

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