by Mike Knaak
The monthslong effort to address equity issues in the Sartell-St. Stephen school district is nearing completion. The Education Equity and Student Experience Committee’s last meeting will be April 29, Superintendent Jeff Ridlehoover told the school board at its April 18 meeting.
The committee was formed and first met last September after the district cut ties with the consultants who conducted a controversial equity audit a year ago.
At the April 26 meeting the committee will review recommended actions and a final draft will be posted on the district’s website in early May, Ridlehoover said.
The committee addressed about a dozen topics including harassment and bullying, culture and climate, social media and student support services.
Ridlehoover said the committee worked for months “to provide a student experience that is both equitable and enjoyable.” The goal, he said is to create action steps so students “experience school in a positive manner.”
Throughout the process, speakers during the board’s open forum time continued to criticize how committee members were chosen and claimed the group met in secret.
Notes and plans from the meetings are posted on the district’s website at isd748.org/EducationalEquity.
According to the latest Department of Education statistics, the district’s four-year graduation rate is 97.5 percent, one of the highest in the state. The state average is about 83 percent.
“While this sounds good, it’s actually even higher. Six of the students who don’t officially graduate in four years are receiving special services so they’ve already met their graduation requirements,” Ridlehoover said. “They are staying with us to continue their education and transition programs. So our graduation rate is almost 100 percent.”