by Mike Knaak
With the increasing diversity among Sartell-St. Stephen students, the district is now eligible for a state program that supports American Indian students and raises knowledge of American Indian heritage for all students.
Th district recently passed a 20-student threshold requiring the district to establish an American Indian Parent Advisory Committee. The requirement also comes with state funding that will total $20,716 for the 2021-22 school year.
The committee’s second meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 8, at Oak Ridge Early Learning Center.
There are currently 22 American Indian students representing 13 families in the district including three each at Pine Meadow Primary School and Riverview Intermediate School, nine at the middle school and seven at the high school.
The advisory committee must be comprised primarily of American Indian students’ parents, secondary school American Indian students and American Indian community members. District staff guide the process.
Oak Ridge Principal Jason Mielke is organizing the parent committee.
“Our goal is to have more students, parents and community members of American Indian background to drive the committee,” Mielke said. “Staff helps guide the discussion and executes the opportunities the committee gives to us. We need parents and community members to allow their voices to be heard and give feedback to use money appropriately to educate our students.”
Parents and students are encouraged to join this committee to advise the school district and the school board on American Indian education programming such as developing and implementing best practices, making recommendations for improvement and advocating for American Indian parents and students. Contact Mielke at (320) 656-3762 or email email@example.com. Going forward, the committee will meet the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m.
“(The committee) gives them a voice in our curriculum and instructional components,” Mielke said. “It will bring some cultural experiences center stage for all students to learn some of that background. It’s really another opportunity to give equity experiences to all students. Our district is really focused on that.”
When parents register students, they are asked to select ethnicity. “We encourage parents to identify all races and backgrounds that are part of their cultural experience,” Mielke said.
“Every year we are more and more diverse. This will bring more opportunity to our students,” Mielke said.