News & Notes

Saint Peter Public Schools logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

'Addressing Challenges Together' sessions begin March 21 at St. Peter Senior Center

As a way to continue to foster safe and welcoming environments in all of District 508’s schools as well as in the community of St. Peter, a three part series of conversations, entitled “Addressing Challenges Together,” will be held over the next few months on that topic.

The first of those conversations, with the theme of “How is our community? How are our children?” will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, at the Senior Center in the Saint Peter Community Center. Facilitation for these conversations will be provided by the Greater Mankato Diversity Council and Saint Peter Community Leaders. These events are free and the public is encouraged to attend.

“Saint Peter is a wonderful community with great people”, says Supt Paul Peterson. “These nights will be designed to help us all reflect as parents, neighbors, school staff and community members on who we are and where we are going.”  

Each session will be interactive and will work to cultivate understanding and positive school and community action for the future.  Many community groups, including #OurStPeter and the Greater Mankato Diversity Council have helped District leaders develop each night’s activities.  

“This is a great opportunity for people to come together to share their thoughts and ideas and to learn from each other,” Saint Peter Community & Family Education Director Tami Skinner said.

Subsequent conversations will be held on the following dates, so be sure to mark your calendars:

Tuesday, April 2 -- Session #2: “Who do we want to be?”, 6 p.m. at the Nicollet County Fairgrounds’ Johnson Hall

Wednesday, May 8 -- Session #3: “Moving forward together”, 6 p.m. at Saint Peter Middle School

These conversations are supported by following groups: Saint Peter Public Schools, Raising Our Community’s Children, #OurStPeter, St. Peter Recreation and Leisure Department, and the Greater Mankato Diversity Council.

Saint Peter Public Schools logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

The arrival of March indicates that we are in the home stretch of our difficult Minnesota winter.  Snow, cold, ice and wind have all taken turns challenging our best attempts to hold school on a regular basis in January and February.  It’s been a rough two months to say the least and our school faculty and administration appreciates everyone’s patience and understanding with all of our schedule adjustments, cancellations and delays.    

Flexible learning days, multiple school closure days, loss of traditional instructional time, statutory requirements and possible legislative action have generated several questions about our plans moving forward.  Below is a compilation of some frequently asked questions with corresponding answers. Feel free to contact me (Supt. Paul Peterson) at 934-5703 if you have other questions or if you’d like any additional information.

  1. Is the school district planning to schedule any make-up days?  No.  At this time, the School Board is not considering altering the 2018-19 school calendar.  The main reason for this is the district’s use of flexible learning days.
  2. The state allows schools to use up to five flexible learning days per year.  We’ve had more than that. Is that a problem? No.  State statute allows for five flex days to be used toward the statutory minimum requirements for a school year.  Additional flex days can be implemented provided the school district does not use the hours in its state reporting.  The Saint Peter School District calendar has more days than the state minimum.
  3. So if the state only allows five flexible learning days to be counted, why aren’t days 6, 7, 8, etc. traditional “snow days”?  There are two main reasons.  First, the school district wants to make sure it maximizes student instructional time as much as possible.  While different than a traditional school day, flex days provide the opportunity for students to continue learning.  Second, even though the state only counts five, the School Board considers all flex days student instructional and faculty work days.  
  4. Is Governor Walz going to waive state requirements related to the minimum school hours?  He can’t do it alone, but if the Minnesota Legislature passes a bill he can sign it.  There are proposals in both the Minnesota House and Senate that address this topic and all signs point to this being a bipartisan issue that will find its way to the governor’s desk for approval.  
  5. Are flexible learning days here to stay?  Prior to the 2015-’16 school year, all school days missed due to inclement weather were made up typically in the spring.  Flex days were introduced four years ago and, up until this year, have been implemented rarely (1-2 per year). Last year, the School Board adjusted the 2018-’19 calendar to remove all potential snow make-up days.  The 2019-’20 calendar also does not denote any snow make up days. These moves indicate the Board’s commitment to the use of flexible learning days.
SPPS’s first Coffee Conversation for 2019 is Feb. 2 at River Rock
Kurt Hildebrandt

Saint Peter Public Schools will once again host a series of Coffee Conversations at various locales on select Saturdays from now through the month of May. The first of those Conversations will take place from 9 to 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, at River Rock Coffee.

Superintendent Paul Peterson and representatives from the School Board will be on hand at each event to talk about issues related to Saint Peter Public Schools and the public is encouraged to attend.

The following is the complete schedule for those Coffee Conversations (from 9 to 10 a.m. each time):

February 2 - River Rock Coffee
March 9 - Diamond Dust Bakery
April 13 - Family Fresh
May 4 - Dunkin’ Donuts


 

Saint Peter Public Schools logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

 

Position is grant-funded and shared with TCU & Le Sueur-Henderson districts

A collaborative effort between Saint Peter, Tri-City United and Le Sueur-Henderson school districts, to create a new, grant-funded regional workforce development coordinator position has resulted in the hiring of Corrie Odland to that new post.

   Corrie Odland

The purpose of this new, multi-district position is to help deepen the connections between the high schools in each of the three districts and their respective business communities. While the three districts were looking at the best ways to achieve that goal it became apparent that an active liaison between schools and the business community is a key ingredient in these dynamic partnerships. Through these connections, the goal is to create learning opportunities for students all around the region.

Odland began her new position on January 2 and has kept very busy familiarizing herself with the three school districts and their respective communities -- although having lived in St. Peter for the past 10 years, she already has had somewhat of a head start.

“So far I’ve met with representatives from each of the three school districts and visited their respective buildings, and I’m very excited to be involved in this position from the very beginning,” Odland said. “My main goals so far have been to establish contacts and tour each of the buildings, and also find out what the goals of each district are and also find out what employers in their communities with which to contact.

“Having lived here in St. Peter as long as I have, I feel I have a strong connection here, and I look forward to building that kind of connection with the TCU and Le Sueur-Henderson communities.”

Odland has prior experience working with career exploration and development, having worked for seven years at Gustavus Adolphus College in career development as well as similar work experience at the University of Texas-San Antonio, Mesabi Range College, and Century College.

“My experience there involved personal counseling, academic advising, and career counseling, and feel that bodes well with this new position as workforce development coordinator,” she said. “Big picture, my main goals overall are to provide local high school students with opportunities to explore careers and gain career-relative experiences and provide a chance for local employers to introduce to students the opportunities they have, while also building on those partnerships.

“I’m still getting acclimated to the position and it will be a learning experience for everyone involved, but everyone I’ve met so far has been very receptive and, like me, are very excited about the possibilities.”

Funding for the position is part of a larger grant awarded by the Greater Twin Cities United Way to a project called South Central Guided Pathways to Success (GPS) of which these three districts, as well as Mankato Public Schools, Madelia and St. James-Butterfield-Odin Public Schools, are a part along with South Central Workforce Council, Minnesota Valley Action Council, South Central College, and the South Central Service Cooperative.

“The regional workforce development coordinator position is an important addition as we continue to implement our college and career readiness system,” Saint Peter Superintendent Paul Peterson said. “Saint Peter has rich learning environments throughout the community, and increased student engagement with businesses, industry and the public sector will provide experiences that are hard to replicate in the school setting.”

Area employers interested in connecting with Odland about possible partnerships can contact her at codland@mnscsc.org.

Saint Peter Public Schools logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Event, which benefits SPPS students, hosted by Nicollet County emergency personnel

Local law enforcement and emergency response agencies teamed up to host the first-ever ‘Shop with a Hero’ program here in Nicollet County in which local youngsters in need were paired up with local heroes to go on a $100 shopping spree on December 8 at Shopko in St. Peter.

  SPHS National Honor Society members (l to r) Harry Dean,
  Adrianne Brock, Aileen Rueda, and Emily Peterson, helped
  wrap presents as part of Nicollet County’s first-ever Shop
  with a Hero event on December 8 at Shopko in St. Peter.

The Shop with a Hero program here was modeled after one in Mankato, and the goal was to pair up 20 Saint Peter Public School student participants with local heroes (aka, local law enforcement, emergency/first responders). Students were nominated for the program by Saint Peter Public Schools social workers and other staff members.

Each participant was then given a $100 gift card and assigned a hero, who would help them shop for presents for their family and possibly themselves.

Four members of the Saint Peter High School chapter of the National Honor Society took part in the event by helping wrap presents that the participants picked out during their shopping spree. Those NHS volunteers, who helped wrap the presents, included Emily Peterson, Adrianne Brock, Aileen Rueda, and Harrison Dean.

Donations to make the Shop with a Hero event possible were made by, the Shopko Foundation; charitable gambling proceeds through Red Men Bar, Embassy Bar, and the Flame Bar; St. Peter Lions Club; River’s Edge Hospital and Clinic (bicycle helmets); and Dunkin Donuts (refreshments).

Agencies/groups that assisted with this event, in addition to the SPHS National Honor Society, included: St. Peter Police Department, Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office, Minnesota State Patrol, North Mankato Police Department, River’s Edge Ambulance by Allina, and the St. Peter Fire Department.

Emergency personnel from the St. Peter Police Department, St. Peter Fire Department, Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office, Minnesota State Patrol, North Mankato Police Department, and River’s Edge Ambulance (staffed by Alina) volunteered their time to participate in the first-ever Shop with a Hero event at the Shopko in St. Peter on Dec. 8.