Commissioner shares updates

by Jim Boyle

About 100 people braved one of this winter’s few snowstorms to get a progress report from Minnesota’s commissioner of education.

Photo by Jim Boyle. Dr. Brenda Cassellius, the commissioner of education for Minnesota, spoke in Elk River.

Dr. Brenda Cassellius shared Gov. Mark Dayton’s seven-point plan for achieving excellence in Minnesota public schools and explained Minnesota’s No Child Left Behind waiver proposal on Wednesday night at Handke Center.

But first she heard from  some students and the Elk River Area School District’s administrative team, who provided a progress report of their own that covered their successes in the classroom on testing, its finances and the state’s system of funding  that provides the district $18 million less than the average metro school district. They also talked about some of the district’s dreams for the future.

Hannah Gibson, a 17-year-old Ivan Sand Community High School student; Jeff Anderson, an 18-year-old Zimmerman High School student; and Hailee Athman, an 18-year-old Rogers High School student, talked about their school experiences and their hopes for siblings and others behind them. In Gibson’s case, she spoke of her own son, Oliver, and her aspirations for the future.

District leaders shared a progress report on strategic planning efforts that they hope wrap up in May.

Cassellius said afterward she was impressed with the district leadership and at how many people came.

“They’re really focused on putting kids first,” she said, noting she likes that the district is not focused on one silver bullet but rather its people.

The event was hosted by the ISD 728 Legislative Action Team.