District receives St. Paul Foundation grant to implement training for staff, enhance connections with all students
South St. Paul Public Schools (SSPPS) and Innocent Technologies are excited to announce the receipt of a $210,000 grant from The St. Paul Foundation to implement a new training program for district staff called “Seeing the ‘Good’ in Every Child.”
Superintendent Dave Webb stressed that Innocent Classroom is not a discipline program or program to address student behavior. “Innocent Classroom is going to help all of us to build our skills and practices around issues of empathy and understanding of difference so that we better engage each of our students,” he said. “I am excited about the team-building and conversations that will be generated among the staff with this learning experience. But in the end, I am most excited about helping and supporting SSP students, meeting them where they are at and helping them grow and succeed.”
Research, training and relationships central to improving school climate
“All children come to school to learn,” said Connie Garling-Squire, director of early learning and equity. “But sometimes what they need to learn is not found in a textbook. The adults in the room need to be adept at understanding how students access learning and how they can help them with both content and behavior.”
Garling-Squire, who has worked in SSPPS for over 30 years in various positions, notes that today’s world is chaotic and it is “our job as adults and educators to help build structures for students to help them be successful.” For the past two years, SSPPS has conducted staff trainings and launched initiatives focused on increasing the capacity of teachers and staff to better respond to individual student needs, which in turn helps reduce incidences of negative student behavior and disciplinary actions.
Feb. 18-22 is School Board Recognition week. South St. Paul Public Schools is joining all public school districts across the state to celebrate School Board Recognition Week to honor our board members for their commitment to our school district and our students.
Current families give district overall high marks but identify areas for improvement focused on personalizing education for all students
Ninety-three percent of South St. Paul Public Schools parents rate the quality of education provided by the district as either “excellent” or “good” according to a recent satisfaction survey, which was summarized for the School Board at its work session on Jan. 28.
In November 2018, the district contracted with The Morris Leatherman Company, a national market research firm located in Minneapolis, to a conduct scientific, random-sample survey of families with current, future and former SSPPS students. The surveys were focused on gauging baseline satisfaction of the representative groups, assessing strategic program options and offerings, and exploring opportunities for improvement.
Overall student enrollment remains stable, but District looks to better understand choices families are making
The School Board received an enrollment update at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. Aaron Bushberger, director of finance, shared a mid-year update to complement the annual enrollment report he shared with the Board in October.
Unlike the annual report that focused on overall enrollment trends and class sizes, this mid-year enrollment update looked more closely at 10-year enrollment trends of South St. Paul Public Schools (SSPPS) resident and open enrolled students and families.
Congratulations to South St. Paul senior Tessa Laska for receiving the 2019 St. Paul Athena Award. This award recognizes outstanding female senior athletes for their excellence in sport participation and accomplishments in team sports.
Tessa is a six-time letter winner, four-time All-Conference recipient, two-time Honorable Mention recipient, and named MVP in Cross Country. She has also earned three varsity letters, is a two-time All-Conference recipient, and named MVP in Nordic Skiing.
While SSP schools is not looking to make budget cuts this year, we are always looking at ways to improve outcomes. To that end, we know that there may be some new programs or services we need to add in order to improve student achievement. However, the district’s budget parameters require we maintain a balanced budget. Therefore, any requests for new programs or services need to be cost neutral (i.e. reductions made in another area).
Administration is currently reviewing options for strategic redesign that will better position the district to reach its five percent growth targets in reading, math and IB.
Administration is scheduled to present a formal budget proposal to the School Board for first review ion Monday, March 11. Approval of the budget redesign plan is slated for Monday, March 25 in order to align with additional staffing and programmatic planning for the 2019-20 school year.
Six Times / Annual Report mailed
The district recently published and mailed its district newsletter, Six Times, to all district residents. Inside the Winter 2019 edition is also a new district Annual Report.
Additional print copies are available at SSP school offices, and can also be reviewed online HERE.
A few notes about the redesigned Six Times:
The redesign of Six Times includes a variety of article styles (features, short-form, updates, briefs, photo stories) in order to appeal to different reading styles and interests.
The Annual Report highlights some of the accomplishments over the last year as well as key data points for our constituents (e.g. student achievement data, enrollment data, student and staff demographics, community survey highlights, etc.).
This report will complement the district’s State of the District video presentation scheduled for publication in early March.
Approved for free & reduced meals? Here's what you need to know
Once you've received your official certification or approval letter in the mail, keep it in a safe place.
Did you know? Your approval letter can get you household discounts on some services and activities throughout the state of Minnesota, such as Science Museum, YMCA, energy assistance programs and more.
The District is hosting a series of community conversations to help the district move forward with improvements that will positively impact students and families. The initial parent conversation will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 27 and it is intended to gather input and ideas from current SSP Schools parents and families.
The district is looking at holding similar engagements with SSP students and staff in the near future in an effort to bring together all partners as we look to build a more safe and supportive SSP.
Community Education Program: Minecraft Movie Making (Grades 1-5)
Minecraft is the game phenomenon focused on creativity and building, allowing players to build environments out of textured cubes in a 3D virtual world. Working in pairs, students will be introduced to Minecraft in real life with our customized Legos, and finally, film a stop motion movie using Minecraft-inspired Lego creations. The focus will be on creating Minecraft-inspired Lego worlds and filming.
Input sought on potential adaptive skating partnership
South St Paul Parks and Recreation Department is considering the addition of an adaptive ice skating program for individuals with disabilities. Adaptive skating programs encourage individuals of all ages with disabilities to develop independence, confidence and physical fitness through participation in ice skating.
SSP Parks and Recreation is partnering with SSP Schools to help determine community interest in this program opportunity. Families, students and staff are encouraged to complete a brief interest survey to help determine viability of such a program in South St. Paul.