Dist. 11 loses learning advocates, Indian education advisers

At its May 13 meeting, Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 Board members heard some two dozen students and a couple of staff members plead with them not to cut the district’s student learning advocates.

But at its May 28 meeting board members did just that, adopting a resolution discontinuing contracts at the close of the 2012-2013 school year for all 22 of the district’s learning advocates.

Student learning advocates, hired on a year-to-year basis using money from the district’s integration fund, serve Anoka-Hennepin’s diverse population of students as mentors, providing leadership, offering encouragement and accountability and motivating students to succeed.

Also discontinued with the adoption of the resolution are three interpreters, four Indian education advisers, some three dozen paraeducators and a secretary.

State budget cuts made the cuts necessary, according to Michelle Vargas, chief financial officer for Anoka-Hennepin School District.

“This is a result of the new integration and achievement formula implemented in the recent legislative session,” Vargas said.

“We lose approximately $260,000 in funding for FY14 (school year 2013-2014). We also lost a state grant called the Success for the Future, in the amount of $75,000, which primarily funded Indian Education advisers.”

According to Vargas, the student learning advocates and Indian education advisers positions may, in fact, be restored.

“We are still waiting to hear back from the Northwest Suburban Integration School District, the consortium we belong to that makes us eligible for the integration funding, to see what our final contribution is,” Vargas said during a May 31 email interview.

“This will then set the table for hiring back as many staff as we can within the categorical funding source.”

The loss of the secretary and of some of the paraeducators came as the result of declining enrollment as well as annual routine adjustments in staffing.

Sue Austreng is at [email protected]