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ISD 709 News

posted Jun 17, 2015, 9:05 AM by Communications ISD 709   [ updated Jun 17, 2015, 9:16 AM ]

ISD 709 FY 2016 Budget Includes More Investment in the Classroom

Budget maintains investment to support class size reduction, curriculum updates and student achievement strategies

   The Duluth School Board approved the Fiscal Year 2016 budget during their regular meeting  June 16.  Investments include more teacher collaboration time in the elementary schools; development of another elementary language immersion program; adding a first grade to the current Ojibwe immersion program; support for ISD 709’s new online high school, and maintaining lifeguards at the middle school swimming pools.

   As a result of favorable adjustments made for K-12 education during the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions, along with passage of the local 2013 Education Levy, the district is in a position to continue investments made to support class size reduction, curriculum updates and student achievement.

   Based on the recently approved State budget, state per pupil funding is expected to increase about 2% per year over the next  two years.  District officials are waiting for further interpretation of actions taken during the legislative session to understand what impact those may have on the budget.  The district is also projecting health care premium savings of about $580,000.  

   Over the past several months, Board members reviewed and discussed ideas both for using budget funds efficiently and for increasing investment in strategies related to student achievement. 


Duluth School Board Honors Assistant Superintendent Ed Crawford

   During their regular June meeting, Duluth School Board members recognized Ed Crawford, who is retiring after over 35 years of service to ISD 709.  Ed began his career as a school social worker and later worked as Assistant Principal, Principal, and finally Assistant Superintendent.

   Crawford’s service includes many District-wide committees, including the Teacher Evaluation Committee, System Accountability Committee, Education Equity Advisory Committee, and the District Quality Leadership Team, among others.  He’s dedicated time and expertise to the community through his participation on St. Mary’s Medical Center Board of Directors, Duluth Teachers’ Credit Union Board of Directors, Woodland Hills Board of Directors, Northland Foundation Board of Trustees, YMCA Board of Trustees, College of St. Scholastica Board of Trustees and other leadership positions.

   He is the recipient of several awards, including 2001 Northeast Division Assistant Principal of the Year, the 2005 Sister Ann Edward Scanlon Award from the College of St. Scholastica, and 2009 Northeast Division Principal of the Year, among others.


Teachers-Technology-21st Century Classrooms – Tech Camp!

   Nearly 100 teachers and administrators attended Tech Camp 2015 at Duluth East High School in June.  Participants learned how to use technology as a teaching tool and how it can be used to connect with parents to support student learning. 

Workshops included Connected Classrooms, Skype for Guest Speakers, Connecting with Parents Through Technology, Math Connections, Teachscape, Formative Assessments, and much more. 

   Keynote speaker Dr. Brad Gustafson provided a presentation on Unleashing Creativity and Innovation through technology.  Gustafon is the co-creator of World Book Talk which promotes literacy through augmented reality and student creation. His blog, Adjusting Course, was a finalist for Best Administrator Blog Awards in 2013 and 2014.


Denfeld Student Receives Steve Rolland Youth Peacemaker Award

   Nalani Harris, Denfeld High School, was recently honored with the Steve Rolland Youth Peacemaker Award by Duluth’s Men As Peacemakers at its annual awards dinner.  Awards and scholarships go to three individuals or groups each year who are nominated as “peacemakers” who “exemplified the work of building peace and promoting nonviolence” in the community.  Harris plans to use her scholarship money for continuing her education at St. Cloud State University.


Duluth School Board Approves Bullying Prohibition Policy Updates

   The Duluth School Board approved updates to the Bullying Prohibition Policy which prohibits bullying behavior and assists in preventing and responding to acts of bullying and other similarly disruptive behaviors.

    The approval follows months of work by members of the ISD 709 Bullying Prevention Committee, several community meetings hosted by ISD 709 and the City of Duluth last fall, and review of community, student and staff surveys to gather thoughts and advice.   The revisions are intended to further assist schools in preventing, identifying and responding to bullying. 

    The entire updated policy, which is several pages long, will be available in the 2015-16 Family & Student Handbook and online at  Briefly:

    The act of bullying, by either an individual student or group of students, is expressly prohibited.  This applies not only to students who directly engage in bullying but also to students who, by their indirect behavior, condone or support another student’s act of bullying.  It’s everyone’s responsibility to report bullying behavior, not just the person targeted. 

    Each school will continue to utilize research-based, developmentally appropriate, best practice prevention strategies which may include but are not limited to:

>Teaching respect and acceptance of differences between people;

>Positive behavior interventions and supports;

>Social emotional learning;

>Intentionally creating positive student and staff relationships;

>Preparing students for when bullying behaviors may occur.

    Schools will respond to bullying in a manner appropriate to the individual incident, considering the nature of the behavior, the developmental age of the student and the student’s history of problem behaviors and performance.  When bullying occurs, steps will be taken with the student harmed and with the student who engaged in the prohibited behavior. 

    For the student harmed:  Protect, support and intervene on their behalf.  Support may include safety planning, one-to-one support, check-in and/or check-out with a trusted adult in the school and choice to participate in a restorative process facilitated by a trained facilitator, among others.

   For the student who engaged in the prohibited behavior:  Schools may use multi-tiered levels of response that are individualized, consistent, age-appropriate and match the severity of the behavior and student’s developmental age.  Consequences must be paired with meaningful instruction and guidance and carefully planned with defined outcomes.   Responses may include but are not limited to working with parents, disciplinary action (detention, suspension, etc.), teaching/re-teaching desired skills or behavior, and connecting with community resources.

   Staff training will be required on a three year cycle for all school personnel to prevent, identify and respond to bullying behavior and be offered annually to build the skills of all ISD 709 employees to implement the policy.  Schools will incorporate into the curriculum developmentally appropriate instruction to help students identify, prevent and reduce bullying and create a safe learning environment. 

   “Bullying” means intimidating, threatening, abusive or harming conduct that is objectively offensive and:

>There is an actual or perceived imbalance of power between the student engaging in prohibited conduct and the target of the behavior and;

>The conduct is repeated or forms a pattern or;

>Materially and substantially  1) interferes with a student’s educational opportunities or performance or ability to participate in school functions or activities or to receive school benefits, services or privileges.   2) Places the student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or property   3) Causes a substantially detrimental effect on the student’s physical or mental health.

  For more information on bullying prevention and response: