Winter is coming: What you need to know
Rochester Public Schools

Winter in Minnesota can bring many forms of weather that people often find unpleasant. But for school administration, dealing with the uncertainties of changing, unpredictable weather, and road conditions make the decision about calling for a delay, or even a cancellation, a challenging task.

Inclement Weather Decision Timeline

When the forecast leads us to believe morning travel could be tricky, we plan ahead. We monitor storms and even watch the weather throughout the night, but most often, we make the call on Inclement Weather decisions in the morning. Members of our transportation team hit the roads early to assess conditions. Even though they are out before the buses leave to pick up students, things can change quickly with the weather. Even so, these early morning assessments are vital to the decision-making process.

Dismissing school early is even trickier. There are many things to be considered: safely transporting all our students home, successful notification of our families as many parents can’t get home in time to meet their children, and so on. 

In all of our decisions, the safety and security of our students is our first priority. If you feel we’ve made the wrong decision, you can certainly choose to keep your child home. As a parent, you make the ultimate choice about what’s best for your child.

How will you know if there is a Delay, Closing, or Early Release?

Communication is vital in the Inclement Weather Decision process. We know you would love to be informed as soon as possible about our decisions, so we try to notify you as quickly as we can. Most often, the call on Inclement Weather decisions in the morning, typically by 5:30 AM.

Notifications of Inclement Weather decisions go out via Skylert, websites, social media, and local TV stations (KTTC, KAAL, ABC 6, KIMT, KROC).

For more information on Inclement Weather or how to sign up for Skylert notifications please visit our web page.

What about recess? 

Children at our schools will not go outdoors for recess when the temperature is below 0 degrees or if the wind chill reaches -10 degrees (Fahrenheit). If the conditions outside seem adverse, such as rain, sleet, or even in the event of a muddy playgrounds, students may also stay inside. Please be sure that you listen to the weather in the mornings and dress your child appropriately. 

 

Could start times at RPS change?
Rochester Public Schools

The Rochester School Board will be presented this evening with a report that could lead to an adjustment in school start times to better accommodate the sleep needs of older students.

In February of 2019, a Bell Time Study Committee was formed that was comprised of fifteen (15) staff members representing transportation, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, Student Nutrition Services (SNS), School Aged Child Care (SACC), Activity Directors, and District administration. The goal of the committee was to look at options that best served the students based on established research all while looking at cost models that did not substantially increase transportation costs. The committee met seven times over nine months. The initial committee meeting was on February 28, 2019, and various representatives were tasked with reviewing research, gathering information from their peers, and evaluating start times of other districts. We looked at start time schedules at four Minnesota districts of comparable size and the committee decided to create options with start times no earlier than 8:00 AM at any site and a dismissal time of no later than 3:15 PM at secondary sites.

We established the bell times in consideration of the following:

  • Research of various medical, psychological, and psychiatric associations,
  • Transportations requiring one hour between secondary and elementary arrival times in order to maintain a two tiered approach
  • Effect of later dismissal time at secondary sites for after school activities
  • Consideration of the bus pick up and drop times along with the walk times needing to be in daylight hours if possible
  • SACC staffing considerations related to school start and dismissal times
  • Effect on Student Nutritional Services for meal times and compliance with federal laws
  • Lunch start times at elementary and lunch period times at secondary sites
  • Effect on PSEO, C-TECH, and Early Childhood Learning Centers
  • Contracted staff teaching hours

The Bell Time Study Committee used the above considerations to create various options to present to the School Board for their review and comment. The committee created two potential bell time options, which will be presented to the school board this evening. Stay tuned for the latest updates after tonight's meeting.

National School Bus Safety Week
Rochester Public Schools

Organizations to Collectively Observe National School Bus Safety Week

The Rochester Police Department (RPD), Rochester Public School District and First Student will be taking steps to recognize the 2019 National School Bus Safety Week, which will take place October 21-25, 2019. The theme this year is "My School Bus, The Safest Form of Student Transportation!"

Locally, law enforcement is working on an update to the stop-arm violation complaint process. In the past, if the bus driver did not include all of the elements of the crime, required by statute, the cases became inactive. Now all reported violations will be assigned to officers to conduct follow up. In addition to the change in the process, RPD is also working with First Student and the schools to implement an education component to help the bus drivers better understand what evidence is required to successfully prosecute violators.

RPD is also implementing proactive efforts where an officer will ride on the bus to witness violations first hand, having a second officer in a squad car to immediately stop and cite the violator. Through all of these actions, the intent is to reduce and, hopefully, eliminate motorists who not adhere to the laws when buses are stopped.

Chief Jim Franklin shares, “The safety of our children is of utmost importance. Recently, we have seen an increase in the number of motorists who are not complying with the stop-arm law. This law is vitally important to the safety of children getting on and off buses. We ask all motorists to be aware when they approach a bus.”

Held during the third full week of October each year, National School Bus Safety Week is an active and evolving public education program and an excellent way for parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators, and other interested parties - to join forces and address the importance of school bus safety.

“Annually, the Rochester Public School District works with our partners at First Student to provide our students training and education on bus safety. Every student in grades kindergarten through tenth receive a classroom lesson plus a hands-on school bus lesson,” said Michael Muñoz, Superintendent of Rochester Public Schools. “We train all students, even walkers, so they are familiar when they ride buses for field trips, and have general pedestrian awareness.”

First Student has increased its safety measures with stop-arm cameras to rotate between some of their school buses. “We train our drivers to report stop-arm violations,” said Jon Goetz, Location Manager for First Student. “The safety of students is our most important priority, and we believe the stop-arm cameras, in conjunction with the stop-arm violation process, will help protect our students even more.”

There are recommended tips for drivers, which will make school bus transportation safer for everyone:

  • When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
  • Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in neighborhood.
  • Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
  • Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state, as well as the "flashing signal light system" that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:
    • Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
    • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
Energy Saving Success
Rochester Public Schools

RPS Find Energy Savings Success
Partnership with Cenergistic Delivers $500,000 Savings in First Year

In celebration of hitting a significant milestone, Rochester Public Schools today announced that the district has reduced enough energy consumption to recover more than $500,000 in utility expenses since partnering with Cenergistic, a national energy conservation company.

Working with Cenergistic engineers and experts, RPS implemented a comprehensive energy conservation and sustainability program in 2018 to reduce energy consumption and utility costs. 

“In just over a year, we are recovering a significant amount of our utility budget thanks to Cenergistic’s program,” said RPS Superintendent Michael Muñoz. “This program has helped us save much-needed funds while also creating a culture of sustainability within our staff and students. We acknowledge there is more work to be done to balance maximum energy efficiency and comfort.”

RPS personnel work closely with Cenergistic engineers, experts and the Energy Specialist to audit and optimize energy-using systems across the organization to achieve peak efficiency. The Specialist tracks energy consumption at all campuses to identify and correct areas that need immediate attention. Savings are calculated using third-party energy-accounting software.

This hand-in-hand relationship has resulted in tremendous success. The carbon emissions avoided from the energy program equate to approximately 7.6 million miles driven or the energy use of 530 houses in a year.

A primary benefit of the Cenergistic program is that all costs come out of the existing utility budget, with savings projected to more than pay for the program. The environmental benefits of the program contribute to a reduced carbon footprint and will help RPS qualify for ENERGY STAR® certification with the Environmental Protection Agency in the near future.

About Cenergistic
Since 1986 Cenergistic has helped 1,400+ K-12 districts, institutions of higher education, governments and health care facilities find $5.4 billion and counting in hidden electricity, natural gas and water savings by applying our advanced software platform and sustainability-as-a-service solutions. Organization leaders can reduce utility spending by 20–30 percent annually with no capital investment while improving the comfort and quality of building environments. For more than a decade, Cenergistic has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year or Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence.

An Electrifying Moment for RPS
Rochester Public Schools

Rochester Public Schools (RPS), in partnership with First Student Transportation and Blue Bird, will be First Student Transportation’s inaugural client nation-wide to pilot an electric school bus this fall. The electric Blue Bird school bus will be utilized on both a morning and evening District bus route through the month of September. 

First Student Transportation and RPS have had a contractual partnership for several years. Collaboratively, the two organizations have made an effort in the past four-years to shift a 100% diesel fleet to what is now greater than 50% propane fleet. School buses fueled by propane emit fewer lower nitrogen oxide (NOx). It takes 10 Blue Bird Vision Propane buses to emit as much NOx as one clean-diesel bus. 

As the District and First Student Transportation look toward the future, they will consider electricschool buses as part of the fleet. “Electric school buses produce zero emissions and almost zero road noise,” said Jon Goetz, Rochester First Student Transportation Contract Manager. “Other benefits we see with electric buses are significantly lower maintenance costs. Electric buses do not require oil changes, nor fuel, air-filter, and transmission services.”

The District operates 134 bus routes twice a day in a 218 square mile area. Electric buses will run 120 miles on a single charge. Most of the District bus routes are between 40 – 48 miles. “First Student continues to enhance their fleet with alternative sustainable solutions,” said Superintendent Michael Muñoz. “We focus on helping our students learn to be ethical contributors and good citizens both in and out of the classroom. Improving our efficiencies in transportation is modeling this characteristic for our students.” 

First Student Transportation, Blue Bird, and RPS offered a tour and brief ride on the electric bus on Tuesday, September 17, 2019.

You are Welcome Here.
Rochester Public Schools

On August 20th, 2019 the Rochester Public School Board unanimously passed a resolution welcoming all students to our District. Below is the letter shared by the school board, along with downloadable resources for students, staff, families, and community members. 

To All Our Students:

Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year in Rochester Public Schools! Our School District wants to inspire, challenge, and empower you so you can reach your full potential and achieve your goals. No matter where you were born or what language you speak, we welcome you. No matter your skin color, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, economic status, age, ethnicity, culture, or ability, we welcome you.

We will constantly strive to provide a learning environment where you feel physically and emotionally safe, included, and respected. Our wonderful diversity makes ours a better, stronger, school system and community, and we call on everyone in the community to partner with us in supporting you. We’re glad you’re here!

Have a great school year!

SCHOOL BOARD ISD#535
Chair Don Barlow, Vice Chair Deborah Seelinger, Clerk Cathy Nathan, Treasurer Mark Schleusner, Director Melissa Amundsen, Director Jean Marvin, Director Julie Workman

You are Welcome Here Poster

Arabic Chinese Khmer
Bosnian English Somali
Spanish Vietnamese  
Cash for Students Earns the District $8,000
Rochester Public Schools

Hy-Vee presented a check for more than $8,000 to Rochester Public Schools. The money received will be shared to each school as part of Hy-Vee's Cash for Students Program. What an awesome program - just turn your grocery receipts into any RPS School, and the receipts collected add up to big bucks!

INFORMATION FOR THE 2019-2020 HY-VEE CASH 4 STUDENTS PROGRAM:

September 2, 2019 - May 29, 2020: Collect Hy-Vee receipts and turn in to your local school. Receipts must be from a Rochester Hy-Vee store. Hy-Vee will donate $1 for every $250 in receipts collected. 

May 29, 2020 is the last day to turn receipts in to your school. 

June 1 - 5, 2002: Schools turn in receipts to a Rochester Hy-Vee store. Top three schools receive an additional award. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (Provided by Hy-Vee):

•    How do I bundle receipts? This is entirely up to you! Suggestion - total as you collect to save receipts from piling up and becoming unmanageable. Bundle receipts with rubber bunds, staples, bags, boxes, etc., and clearly mark the total of the receipts to each container you choose to use.

•    Do I need to bundle in packs of a certain dollar amount? No. Bundle your receipts in a way that is easiest for your volunteers. Clearly mark the total amount on the outside of your container.

•    What amount on the receipt do I total? If there is a subtotal (before tax), please use that amount. If there is no subtotal amount, do not worry about subtracting tax from the amount due. We want the totalling process to be as easy as possible for your volunteers, with minimal time being spent on searching for a pre-tax amount.

•    How does the Redemption Form work? Each school will turn in ONE redemption form along with all receipts to a Rochester Hy-Vee store between the dates of June 1 - 5, 2020. You do not need a separate Redemption Form for each container of receipts. The Redemption Form should be attached to the final container. Example: If you have 4 boxes, label each 1 of 4, 2 of 4, 3 of 4, 4 of 4. On box 4, staple or tape your Redemption Form.

•    Who receives the check? One check for the grand total will be written to the school district. Each school will receive a portion.

•    Can I turn receipts in throughout the year? No. Each school should submit receipts during the date range specified.

•    Are there any items that do not qualify? Yes. Tobacco, alcohol, money orders, check cashing feees, lottery, postal services, utility payment services, Hy-Vee special event tickets, gift cards, phone cards, dry cleaning, items prohibited by law. 

•    Am I allowed to use receipts I find in a dumpster or those that a Hy-Vee employee takes home? No. While this program relies heavily on the honor system, Hy-Vee employees are not allowed to do this and collecting dumpster receipts is not the intention of this program. We appreciate your honesty.

Schools are to select a representative and send contact information to Andrew Hansen at ASHansen@hy-vee.com. The school contact person should handle all communication. Please do not direct parents to make separate contacts. Customers should turn in receipts to their school of choice. Schools are responsible for collecting and totaling receipts.

Welcome, Early Learners! Preschool is in session.
Rochester Public Schools

Today some of our earliest learners are being welcomed into our two Early Learning Schools! We are thrilled to offer RPS Preschool to nearly 500 students into our program at both Mighty Oaks Early Learning School and Hoover Early Learning School. We also offer PACC - Preschool Age Child Care before and after your preschooler's programming. PACC gives parents/guardians flexibility in their drop-off and pick-up times, provides children a safe, healthy environment where staff will strive to meet emotional, social, and physical needs and offers arts, crafts, STEM, self-directed play, physical interaction, reading, and more.

Preschool is all about wonderful new learning experiences that build skills for a lifetime. It is about turning everyday experiences and interactions into powerful opportunities of learning. At Rochester Public Schools Preschool we understand that each child has unique educational needs and we emphasize learning through age-appropriate practice in a play-based environment. All children need individualized learning experiences offered in a play-based learning environment by teachers who are skilled in building strong and nurturing relationships.

RPS Preschool offers a variety of preschool options and services for young children and their families.

Learn more about RPS Preschool. 

 

2019 Bond Referendum
Rochester Public Schools

The District is running a Bond Referendum in 2019. But, what does that mean and how does it benefit students and the community?

There will be two questions on the ballot.

  • The first question will address capacity at elementary and middle schools, safety at all school sites, additional land purchases for future elementary and high school growth, and auditorium upgrades at all three high schools. 
  • The second question, contingent on the first question passing, will address closing and repurposing the middle school pools to save money and reduce operating costs, in addition to building a competition level pool at Century High School and updating the pool dive well at Mayo High School.

Get Informed. 

Election Day is November 5th. Early voting runs from September 20 - November 4, Monday through Friday from 8 AM - 4:45 PM and on Saturday, November 2 from 10 AM - 3 PM at the Edison Administration Building. Enter through Door 2.

RPS Educator to receive National Award
Rochester Public Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 28, 2018) – The NEA Foundation today announced that Tucker Quetone, a high school English teacher at Rochester Alternative Learning Center in Rochester, Minnesota, is one of 45 public school educators who will receive the prestigious California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala next February in Washington, D.C.

The California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence awardees are nominated by their peers for their dedication to the profession, community engagement, professional development, attention to diversity, and advocacy for fellow educators.

Each year, the Salute to Excellence in Education Gala draws almost 1,000 supporters of public education, and thousands more online, to applaud these awardees. At the gala, the educators are truly the stars, celebrated throughout the night with music, performances, videos, and more.

“This year’s awardees are fulfilling the promise of public education in classrooms, schools, and communities from coast to coast,” says Sara A. Sneed, President and CEO, the NEA Foundation. “Each awardee has met a very high standard, and together, they are celebrated for a shared commitment to educational excellence, innovative approaches to student learning, and support for their peers. We are grateful to California Casualty for its recognition and celebration of the very best in education, and we look forward to honoring the 2020 California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence awardees.”

“We are proud to honor these exceptional educators and show our appreciation for their incredible work” says Beau Brown, CEO, California Casualty. “The California Casualty awardees exemplify educators’ ability to be a positive force in their students’ lives.”

Of the 45 state awardees who were nominated by their National Education Association state affiliate, five finalists will be announced at the beginning of the school year and receive $10,000 at the gala. The nation’s top educator will be revealed at the gala on February 7, 2020 and receive an additional $25,000. The gala will be livestreamed at neafoundation.org.

The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards. Find more information about the awards and a gallery of this year’s awardees.

RPS Expands Community School Initiative
Rochester Public Schools

A community school is both a place and set of collective partnerships between Rochester Public Schools (RPS), United Way of Olmsted County, the individual school site, and other community resources. Today, RPS is pleased to share that John Marshall High School (JM) is the District’s fourth community schools. JM joins the company of Gage and Riverside Elementary Schools, and Rochester Alternative Learning Center (ALC).

Full-service community schools partner with families and community organizations to provide well-rounded educational opportunities and supports for students’ school success.  Community schools work to help all students have equal access to basic needs (such as food, clothing, dental, and vision), expanded learning opportunities during the school day to complement curriculum, and enriching out-of-school activities. 

“We know, as educators and parents, that all kids have unique abilities, talents, and dreams and our goal is to help all students have equitable access to foundations for building a strong educational platform to achieve those things,” said Eric Johnson, Principal of JM. “Over the course of the school year, John Marshall will be looking to gather feedback from students, staff, parents/caregivers and community members about the goals we have for our community school program.”

In this first year, JM will focus primarily on developing a more comprehensive resource room. This is a safe place where anyone receives access to food, clothing, hygiene items. The goal in the first year is to expand the resource room with additional supports including access to technology.

JM is accepting donations of the following items as they build their resource room:

  • Non-perishable food items (i.e. pasta, sauce, beans, rice, cereal, peanut butter)
  • Schools supplies: notebooks, pencils, pens, highlighters, graph paper, folders, backpacks
  • John Marshall spirit clothing 
  • Winter jackets, boots, hats and mittens
  • Youth (xs to plus sizes) shirts and pants (not jeans)
  • Shoes (tennis, casual)
  • Unworn socks and undergarments
  • Unused laptops built since the year 2000 can be dropped off at any RPS high school to be refurbished for students in need of home laptop.

**All clothing should be in very good to new condition. Please, no hangers. Can be bagged or boxed.**

How to donate:

  • Families – during Schedule Pickup on August 15th or 16th. Bins will be set-up for collection.
  • The week prior to school (August 26 - 30). Bins will be set up inside the Main Entrance at JM.
  • Anytime during the school year by contacting JM’s Full-Service Community Coordinator Erin Vasquez at (507) 328-5292 or via email: ervasquez@rochester.k12.mn.us

 

School Located Influenza Clinic Registration is Open
Rochester Public Schools

Your school has partnered with your child’s clinic to provide the flu vaccine at school this fall. This is a fast, easy, and convenient way to keep your children, your school, and your community healthy throughout the year.  

What’s really important?

We will again have a FIXED registration period this year. Registration will begin online August 7th and will end on September 11th at 11:00 p.m. No registration forms will be accepted after September 11th. This means you must register your child during the registration window in order for your child to receive the flu shot when it is given at your school.

The flu shot will be available, as well as a limited supply of the nasal spray (FluMist).

What else do I need to know?

  • Registration is required, online preferred, but paper forms are available at school
  • Non-medication pain reducing options will be offered
  • Your health insurance will be billed just like it is in your clinic
  • Your child can get the vaccine even if you don’t have insurance at little to no cost to you
  • Please remind your child the day of your school’s clinic
  • Make sure your child wears clothing that allows access to the upper arm, if planning to get the flu shot

Information on anything above is available at https://www.semnic.org

Superintendent’s Update 2011-2019 and Year In Review for 2018-2019
Rochester Public Schools
 
In the past eight years, we’ve...
  • Launched all-day kindergarten District-wide
  • Built two Early Learning Schools - Hoover and Mighty Oaks
  • Sold Golden Hill Learning Center, purchased Rochester Market Square, renovated, and opened the ALC
  • Expanded partnership with Mayo Clinic and opened the ALC Clinic
  • Focused on safety and security through secured entrances, Raptor Technology, and crisis professional development
  • Expanded partnership with City, County, and RCTC which led to the building and operations of CTECH
  • Increased graduation rate
  • Improved partnerships including those with Rochester Police Department, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted County, City of Rochester, Winona State University, and Prairie Care
  • Formed a collaborative partnership with the Cradle to Career Network
  • Enhanced mental health programming services
  • Received recognition for two Blue Ribbon Schools by the US Department of Education (Friedell, Washington)
  • Received a Golden Achievement Award from the National School Public Relations Association for Future Generations: RPS rebrand and logo
  • Implemented a new ADA compliant website
  • All debts from prior to 2009 refinanced for interest rate savings
  • Increased technology usage and embedded 21st Century Skills into instruction
  • Intense focus on equity by adding equity specialists, American Indian Liaison, a District-wide equity leadership team, professional development on CLRT, ENVoY, and the successful completion of all components of the OCR Agreement 
  • Sold Gage East and MSB Buildings
  • Purchased former People’s Cooperative, renovated and opened the Facilities Service Center
  • Passed a successful operating referendum in 2015
  • Developed and became a state model for Community Schools Partnerships at the ALC, Gage and Riverside Central Elementary Schools
  • Developed programs like Project SEARCH
  • Was instrumental in supporting and passing the T21 law in Olmsted County
  • Opened the APEX program at ALC
  • Launched INCubatoredu, the first program in Minnesota
  • Created Elementary Right Fit
  • Developed the 2019 Strategic Plan and Graduate Profile
  • Launched a District-wide Spanish Immersion at Gage Elementary
  • Awarded the Harvard’s 2017 Innovations in American Government Award to Hawthorne Education Center’s Bridges to Careers
Business Services
  • Clean audit with unmodified opinion
  • Structurally balanced General Fund budgets in FY18, FY19, and FY20
  • General Fund Unassigned reserve balance above Board policy
  • New high deductible health plan -- with HRA or HSA option
  • Reduced printing and copying numbers and expenses
  • Cost and energy savings partnership with Cenergistic
Curriculum and Instruction - CTECH Expansion
  • All 9th grade students will visit CTECH in November for a tour, funded by the Federal Perkins Grant
  • Counselor Open House where all MS/HS counselors are invited to visit CTECH in October
  • Elementary Collaboration will include both Gage and Bishop students
  • Career Trees will be developed, highlighting entry-level, technical, and advanced degree career options
  • Firefighter online and hands-on course will begin Fall 2019
  • Professional Literacy Option is an add-on option for students to earn 0.5 credits of English embedded into their CTECH course starting Fall 2020
Curriculum and Instruction
  • Grading for Learning - 50 person task force meets monthly to implement research-based, equitable grading practices in grades K-12 starting Fall 2020  with Professional Development occurring at District and building levels
  • INCubatoredu@rps’s first cohort starting Fall 2019 
  • Supported study of Fine Arts Curriculum in grades K-12. Recommendations coming to School Board Fall 2019.
  • Hired two Elementary reading coaches to support teachers with core instruction
  • Provided voice and choice in Professional Development for staff
  • Involved students and mental health care providers in updating middle school and high school health class content
  • 151 teachers received external coaching from Dr. Hollie’s Coaching Staff
  • Expanded Concurrent Enrollment options at all three high schools
  • Provided support and new resources for math in grades K-11 focused on building conceptual understanding and higher order thinking skills
  • Continue to support the English Language Learners High School redesign process with curriculum development and resources
Curriculum and Instruction–Student Advancement
  • Established a committee on twice exceptional students (students who are gifted and have one or more disabilities)  
  • Collaborated with equity specialists, American Indian Liaison, and bilinguals sharing information on opportunities for students and information nights for families
  • Continued support of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) system at John Adams and Willow Creek
  • In the process of making challenging math projects and enrichments readily available to all elementary teachers for use in all classrooms
Community Education - Changing Trajectories
  • RPS Preschool served 264 of our young learners with experiences that improve their chances for success in school and life.
  • Adult Literacy at Hawthorne served 1,698 adults in Basic Skills,
  • High School Diploma, GED, College Preparation, Citizenship Preparation.
  • Rochester Family Literacy provided two-generation support for learning to
  • 49 children, ages 0-5 (37 families), while their parents participated in parent education and adult literacy programs. (70+ families on waiting list)
  • New in 2018-19 - opened Hoover Early Learning School
Community Education - Fostering Growth
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers (grant funded) at Gage, Riverside, All Middle Schools, Boys & Girls Club, RIYO, SKC, and SRO served 961 youth with the opportunity to “learn, connect, become”
  • School Age Child Care (SACC) provided high quality child care for 2,265 children, including non-school-days, and 9 inclement weather days
  • Youth Enrichment programs opened doors for 12,021 children and youth in our community to explore their world, try out new skills, and build positive relationships with peers and adults
  • New in 2018-19 - Applied for new 21st CCLC grant (begins 9/1/2019)
Community Education - Building Community
  • Adult Enrichment programs provided 9,404 experiences for adult
  • community members to build new skills and new community connections
  • Adults with Exceptional Abilities programs offered 5,008 opportunities to learn new things, connect with others, and explore our community
  • Parents Are Important in Rochester (PAIIR) programs offered 359 community families the opportunity to learn new approaches, discuss concerns, and connect with other families
  • New in 2018-19 - Partnership with Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program
Communications and Marketing
  • Telling Our Story through 353 digital news stories (newspaper, TV, radio), 207 video productions including the use of drones, and monthly e-newsletters and to 10,405 social media followers, which continues to grow.
  • Optimizing our website presence by creating 27 new websites for our District, 24 PTSA sites, and three Booster Club sites. Additionally, on our journey toward Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, we reduced the number of pages from 19,000 with more than 5,000 PDFs to 2,000 pages.
  • Saving 500 trees, which equate to 4,162,607 sheets of paper for school year 2018-19 with Peachjar e-flyer distribution
  • Ran District’s first :30 second TV Commercial
Technology
  • Supporting employees through 29,904 helpdesk tickets in 2018-2019.
  • Supporting students with mobile devices - 10,970 iPads, 2,600 Chromebooks, as well as converting 28 labs to mobile devices in carts to maximize classroom space.
  • As a warranty authorized repair facility for HP, we have repaired 176 laptops, 83 desktops and 738 tablets and iPads.
  • Software enhancements with a student online enrollment module in Skyward, and a gender identity change online process created in Skyward
  • Formed an Incident Response Team
  • Created the RPS Tipline
Elementary and Secondary Education - Coaching Instructional Leadership
  • Focus on Instructional Leadership - our leaders developed professional goals for the year around the 4 Dimensions of Instructional Leadership (Center For Educational Leadership).
  • Collaboration among leaders - we used a teamwork approach to share our insights, support each other’s learning, and maintain continuous interest in each other’s growth through Principal PLCs.
  • Instructional Leadership Rounds - we completed 59 visits across the District from late November to May. This allowed us to be in approximately 315 classrooms to observe, followed by a time to debrief and process with the Principal and their Learning Team.
Elementary & Secondary Education - Monitoring Enrollment
  • District-Wide Option Enrollment - we established a process to more closely monitor drops at our DWO sites so that seats are continuously filled.
  • District-Wide Option Space - we reevaluated the availability of space at our DWO sites to ensure maximum enrollment. This had a positive impact on non-DWO that are considered over capacity.
  • Exception to Attendance - approval process was revised to align with School Board policy.
  • Secondary enrollment support - we developed a process to coordinate and guide mid-quarter enrollment of secondary students in collaboration with school sites.
Elementary & Secondary Education - Behavior Support
  • District Data Team - we convened a group of leaders from all levels to review student discipline data, identify trends, and brainstorm strategies for student support.
  • Violation Guideline - we convened a group of leaders to develop a Violation Guideline with the purpose of more closely aligning consequences for specific behavior violations.
Human Resources
  • Initiated a Staff of Color resource group
  • Onboarded 364 new employees
    • 125 teachers
    • 162 paraprofessionals
    • 20 maintenance
    • 13 off schedule
    • 30 SNS
    • 11 non schedule
    • 3 clerical
  • Started regular meetings with paraprofessional union group to improve communication and provide more input.
  • Additional standardization to staffing process for secondary schools
  • Annual evaluation of paraprofessionals
Student Services - Partnerships
  • New Mayo Clinic Partnership- collaborated with Mayo Clinic on ALC Clinic; added a District Medical Director provided by a Mayo Clinic physician to provide consultation and professional development to health staff.
  • CitySpan, United Way Partnership-researched and selected CitySpan as a database to share data and measure success with our community partners.
  • Results Based Accountability- three community school site facilitators and partnership specialist, in conjunction with C2C staff, were trained in Results Based Accountability and certified to lead others through the RBA process.
  • HRA and Regional Continuum of Care- partnered with the Housing Redevelopment Authority and the Regional Continuum of Care to support programs for Students in Transition.
Student Services - Grants, Curriculum, Programs
  • Community Health Workers- grant with IMAA and the Bridge Collaborative to cover the cost for two bilinguals and the ALC Clinic Coordinator to be trained as Community Health Workers.
  • Safe Routes to School Grant- RPS was awarded the SRTS grant. The grant will allow us to hire a Coordinator to oversee this work.
  • LEAP program- first year of innovative program to address the needs of transition-age youth with behavioral disabilities.
  • Americorps Health VISTA worker- completed year one of this five year grant from MNCC (Minnesota College Compact) that addresses student health outcomes
  • New Math Curriculum for Special Education- implemented Bridges Intervention Program at four Elementary Schools, TransMath at all Middle Schools and Inside Algebra at all High Schools.
Student Services - Social Emotional Learning
  • Behavior Threat Assessment Teams- implemented at the Secondary sites to assess level of student risk.
  • Student Resiliency Specialists- one position at each high school to provide first response to students.
  • Panorama Student Survey- tool to provide information regarding student perception of school and their own social-emotional competencies.
  • Universal Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum- researched and selected the Second Step curriculum for elementary and middle schools to be implemented in fall of 2019.
Operations - Transportation
  • Transportation provided:
    • 11,198 students via bus with 98 AM routes and 103 PM routes
    • 853 special education students via 30 bus routes in the AM and PM and 24 noon routes
    • 430 special education students via van (district and contracted)  for a total of 92 van routes daily
    • Bus mileage total was 1,080,304 miles and van mileage was 385,203 miles
  • Transportation Contract- Negotiated a five year contract with First Student and Kennedy Transportation.
  • District Vans- Moved entire van fleet and staff to new location at Westgate Service Center storage facility due to sale of MSB.
  • Bell Time Study Committee- Group is studying optional start times for the 2020-21 school year.
Operations - Construction and Facilities
  • Hoover Early Learning Center-  Completed construction of a 36,000 square foot addition to Hoover Elementary to create the Hoover Early Learning Center at a cost of $8.1 million dollars
  • Hoover Elementary Indoor Air Quality Project- Completed an indoor air quality project at a cost of $4.5 million dollars.
  • Lincoln District Wide Option Indoor Air Quality Project- Completed an indoor air quality project at a cost of $6.5 million dollars.
  • Long Term Facility Maintenance projects- In addition to the above, completed multiple projects district wide at a approximate cost $7 million dollars.
  • Fleet replacement - 25 year plan
Operations -  Health and Safety and Maintenance
  • Radon Testing- Completed Radon testing and mitigation at district sites at seven sites as part of overall plan to test each building every five years.
  • Lead in Water Testing- Completed lead testing and mitigation at district sites and implemented a State statute required Lead in Water management plan.  Per the plan each site will be tested every five years. This past year we took 272 samples at six of our sites. 
  • Cleaning Plans- Developed and currently instituted a building maintenance cleaning plan for each site using most updated chemicals, square footage data and techniques for application and standards.
Rochester Public Schools awarded MnDOT Safe Routes to School Grant
Rochester Public Schools

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Rochester Public Schools is one of six Minnesota public school districts that will benefit from more than $1 million in Safe Routes to Schools local coordinator funding grants to help promote safe walking and bicycling education in schools, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said today.

Other grant recipients include Saint Paul Public Schools, South Saint Paul Public Schools, Grand Rapids Public Schools, New Ulm Public Schools and Richfield Public Schools.

The funding will allow the school districts to launch a three-year effort with MnDOT to support Safe Routes to School programming. Districts can use the funds to hire staff, convene a team, prioritize strategies and implement solutions that fit their local need. Local coordinators will develop engagement events, train crossing guards and student patrols, and help increase walking and bicycling education in schools.

Rochester received $210,000 for a fulltime coordinator to work with 11 elementary schools to include these types of activities:

  • Implement MN’s Walk! Bike! Fun! curriculum for all kids to learn how to ride a bicycle and safety skills
  • Host Bike Rodeos (safety clinics)
  • Participate in international Walk And Bike to School days and Minnesota’s Winter Walk to School Day
  • Parent education for kids walking and bicycling to school
  • Implementing MnDOT Crossing Guard training
  • Identify recommended routes to school for walkers and bikers
  • Establish Walking School Buses
  • Implement the People Friendly Driver program
  • Develop encouragement events and programs to reward children who walk or bicycle to school
  • Work with city of Rochester to use their Safe Routes to School funds for engineering improvements

“Increasing the safety of children walking and biking not only improves health, but school attendance and academic achievement as well,” said Dave Cowan, MnDOT Safe Routes coordinator. ”Many school districts have a strong desire to support Safe Routes strategies, but limited staff time and resources are challenges. A local coordinator can transform school culture around walking and biking, ensuring more students arrive to school focused and ready to learn.”

Safe Routes to School is an international program to increase physical activity, improve health and reduce traffic congestion around schools by making it safer and easier for students to walk and bicycle to school.

MnDOT has funded more than 450 Safe Routes plans and 140 infrastructure projects across the state since 2006. Funded communities encouraged MnDOT to create funding for local coordinators to help schools implement strategies to make it safer and easier for students to get to school using the Safe Routes program as a framework.

MnDOT awarded $2.3 million in Safe Routes to School planning assistance and infrastructure grants in April 2019. These grants are funded with federal Safe Routes to School dollars.

Since 2005, MnDOT awarded more than $38 million in federal and state funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of funding was awarded for infrastructure projects. The remainder was allocated for programs and planning that promote walkable and bikeable communities. 

More information on Safe Routes to School is available at www.mndot.gov/saferoutes.

Bamber Valley Hunger Heroes
Rochester Public Schools

In the month of April, Bamber Valley Elementary School students became hunger heroes through their Channel One Food Shelf food drive. Collectively, the students raised 1,276 items plus $588.25 which can provide 2,353 meals for those in need in our community. 

Congratulations, Bamber Valley, on your focus, dedication, and generosity.

Summer Meals Announced
Rochester Public Schools

RPS offers a summer meal program for children ages 18 years of age or younger at no cost. The summer meal program is offered at various sites throughout the summer at various times and dates. Additionally, there are mobile sites at Silver Lake Park next to the Silver Lake Pool from 12:20 - 12:50 PM Monday through Thursday, June 10 - August 15 and at Oak Terrace Monday through Thursday, June 10 - August 15 from 11:30 AM - 12 PM. 

View the 2019 Summer Meal Schedule

For more information and summer meal menus, check out the Summer Meal Program web page.

RPS Grad Rates Exceed State of Minnesota
Rochester Public School

Rochester, MN - The Minnesota Department of Education has released the Minnesota Report Card with 2018 graduation rates for the State of Minnesota. The District’s four-year graduation rate for all students is up from last year and exceeds the State’s average. Rochester Public Schools’ graduation rate is 87.01% this year, compared with the State average of 83.20%. In both cases, the graduation rates are up year-over-year and show considerable progress.

Rochester Public Schools is celebrating several accomplishments with the release of the data. The four-year graduation rate for our three comprehensive high schools is 92.0%. The District has seen a gain in the subgroups of Black, Two or more races, English Learner, Special Education, and Free or Reduced Lunch students. Additionally, the graduation rate for all RPS students and all subgroups is above the state average. The results are located below for your review.

Superintendent Muñoz attributed the graduation success to identifying the individual needs of students and interventions. “We focus on developing relationships with students and identifying the individual needs of students,” said Superintendent Muñoz. “I am proud of the work at all of our sites. Our teachers, support staff, and administrators are identifying programs and interventions to address students’ needs.” Multi-tiered interventions, more social and emotional support, and an increased number of educational pathways for students are several additional factors attributing to RPS’s graduation rates.

RPS 2018 Graduation Rate
Category 4-Year Percent (RPS) 4-Year Percent (MN)
All Students 87.01 83.20
Asian Students 87.04 86.59
Hispanic Students 75.0 66.75
Black Students 80.11 67.42
White Students 90.12 88.41
Two or More Races 81.82 71.98
EL Students 72.73 65.65
Special Education Students 63.33 62.30
Free Reduced Lunch Students 74.72 70.15

 

Elementary Artists Spotlighted
Heather Nessler

The Edison Building is turning into an art gallery. That's right! The opening reception for the "RPS Elementary Artists" is on Thursday, April 25 from 5:00 - 6:30 PM. 

It is our first Elementary Art Show with exhibitions from all 17 Elementary Schools. Each school will be represented with approximately 10 unique pieces on display. During the opening reception, guests will experience a gallery style walk-through.

Come see what these young students have curated! The Elementary Art Gallery will be on display from April 25th through the summer.

Service To Each Other
Heather Nessler

As winter began to melt away in early April, and the earth started to reveal herself to us again, our Longfellow 45-15 School Age Child Care (SACC) students noticed their play yard could use a little spring cleaning. They noticed a problem and found a solution - which was to pick up their play space. They spent the afternoon picking up all the litter and trash left behind from the winter.

Service to one another and to our environment makes these Longfellow Leopards smile (and us, too). 

Hands-on Engineering Mentorship
Rochester Public Schools

McKinstry Engineering is a new two-year experience for RPS students entering grade 11 that provides hands-on exploration into the many areas of engineering. Students complete the program as a cohort, working directly with engineers from McKinstry Industries and several of their industry partners.  During the first year of the experience students have the opportunity to learn about energy, mechanical, electrical, civil, and structural engineering as well as technology, design, safety, project management, and controls. Many of the learning experiences require students to collaborate and communicate as engineers, problem solving while they work. 

In the second year of the program, students apply the learning from year one to design and manage an engineering audit of an existing building. This school year (2018-2019) students will be auditing CTECH and the Heintz Center. Their completed audit as well as their recommended plan to address deficiencies will be presented by the team to the owners and operators of the building. Student teams must be prepared to explain their audit, lay out their recommendations, and answer questions from the panel.