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Column: District moving ahead to fulfill promises

By Karsten Anderson, Superintendent of Red Wing Public Schools

Over the past few months, I have described some of our plans moving forward as a result of successful passage of the operating levy questions last November. Today, though, I have news to share about action recently taken to make our promises reality.

At its Feb. 19 meeting, the Red Wing School Board authorized the hiring of several positions directly related to the school district's educational plan and referendum promises. The additions will have a lasting impact on our students and community.

To help implement a career, college, and life readiness framework and fulfill a referendum promise, the School Board authorized the hiring of a Flight Path coordinator. The coordinator will develop and oversee student work-based learning opportunities in local businesses, develop curriculum for career planning, implement a career planning software called Naviance, and plan for the restructuring of coursework to meet today's employment needs. It's a big assignment, so we hope to hire a strong candidate this spring to begin planning for next year.

Providing mental health support is a key school and community need. At a minimal cost to the school district, we will contract with local providers for mental health therapists to provide direct services to students in K-12. Eventually, there will be a therapist at each elementary and secondary school.

Because the therapists can bill insurance companies and Medical Assistance for their services, the positions will become self-sustaining financially. However, until caseloads are full, referendum resources — as promised — will be allocated to provide stronger access to mental health services.

The counseling departments at our schools need additional resources to provide personal counseling and support for career and college planning. An additional school counselor will be hired for next year using money generated from the operating levy referendum. As a result, there will be two school counselors at the middle school and three at the high school. The structure of the counseling department will also change to provide better service for our students.

And, finally, the School Board authorized the hiring of a media and technology specialist for our elementary schools. This specialist will replace our media specialist who recently retired, but in the newly formulated position we will be looking for someone who has a strong media, literacy, and technology background.

We have significant planning work to do this spring and next year as we implement our educational plan and fulfill our referendum promises. I will continue to regularly inform you of our promises, progress, and pitfalls.

Please contact me at 651-385-4502 or klanderson@rwps.org if you have any questions or concerns about the school district.

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