Board kicks off Levy for Learning

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by Dave DeMars

The Sartell-St. Stephen school board met in regular session on Aug. 20. Major areas of interest were the progress of construction of the new high school, a planned Levy for Learning and a report on the new Every Student Succeeds Act in the state of Minnesota.

Levy for Learning

In 2016, voters approved construction of a new high school and upgrades in some existing buildings to meet the needs of the growing school district for the next 15-20 years. Overall student enrollment is projected to grow from the current 3,800 to 4,060 by 2025.

With the new high school coming on line in 2019, the board is asking the voters of the district to authorize the Levy for Learning in order to fund the maintenance and operation of the district buildings, in particular the new high school. The scheduled vote will be Nov. 6.

Informational meetings are scheduled to educate the public as to why and what will be achieved with the funds from the Levy for Learning.

The Levy for Learning aims to use funds in three areas: building operation, student education and class size, and innovation of new programs and incorporation of new technologies.

District figures indicate a home with a taxable value of $100,000 could expect to see a yearly increase of $82.62. A home valued at $400,000 would see a $330 yearly increase. To determine your household impact, visit the tax calculator report online at ​​

Scheduled informational meeting dates are as follows:

Thursday, Sept. 13 at 9 a.m. at the Senior’s Coffee and Conversation at Sartell Community Center;

Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 5:15 p.m. at St. Stephen City Hall;

Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Sartell Middle School Hub; and

Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Sartell High School Auditorium.


Construction is going as planned, Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert said. Good weather has made for lots of progress this summer with progress being made on the interior of the building and in the athletic fields outside. The project is on schedule and on budget. Plans are for the school to be open in September 2019.

Schwiebert said some community tours of the new school will be starting on Thursday nights in September so members of the community can see the progress that is being made.

Tours will begin at 6 p.m. Thursdays, Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27 and will last approximately one hour. Participants should park in the Oak Ridge Elementary School parking lot (1111 27th St. N.). Tours will begin and end there. Tours are limited to adults. Because it’s an active construction site, attendees should wear substantial shoes and clothing that can be soiled.

All information concerning the tours will be on the district website and in the Sabre Spotlight, Schwiebert said.


The ESSA was established to insure achievement gaps between various student groups are reduced. The goals require a high level of success for all students, but take into account the accelerated improvement that’s necessary for some student groups in order to close gaps.

Some of the student groups include American Indian/Native Alaskan, Asian, Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino. Groups also include English learners and students who are not English learners, Special Education and non-Special-Education students.

A school’s overall performance is measured as the average performance of all student groups with at least 20 students. Performance areas being focused on include academic achievement, academic progress, consistency in school attendance, English language proficiency and graduation rate.

Under action items, the board took the following actions:

Approved personnel assignment changes and salaries for those positions.

Approved the new Principal Evaluation plan. The plan was discussed and a presentation made on its various components at the July regular board meeting.

Approved a fundraiser for the middle-school football team. Funds will be used to purchase additional equipment and to hire additional coaches.

Set Dec. 17 as the tentative date for the required Truth in Taxation hearing.

Approved a resolution authorizing the district to become a member of the Minnesota Trust, an organization comprised of 187 school districts throughout the state dealing with financial matters and investments. Membership would allow the district to invest district funds at a more favorable rate of return.

Approved changes in the Early Childhood Handbook.

Approved a call for bids for new visual display boards for use in the new high school.

Approved an application for a School Safety Grant through the Minnesota Department of Education which if granted, would be used to improve safe and secure entrances in the middle school for students and staff.

Under discussion items, the board undertook rescheduling board meetings. The next regular board meeting will be Monday, Sept 17 at the District 748 Service Center.

Author: Dave DeMars

Born and raised in Wisconsin – a “Happy Days” high school experience. Attended UW-River Falls and followed their motto – “Where the free spirit prevails.” Four years in the Army Security Agency (Spies), 31 years teaching English and directing plays. Other jobs – gandy dancer, counselor at mental institution, snowmaker, apple picker, concrete finishing, janitor, furniture mover, appliance sales, insurance sales, media sales, real estate, and writer. I am skeptical to a fault and like all human being I am more oxymoron than I am anything else. I blog at

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