Some student learning advocates will be rehired

Action late in the 2013 session by the Minnesota Legislature reduced the cut in Anoka-Hennepin School District’s integration funding from the state to $300,000 from the anticipated $450,000.

But the Anoka-Hennepin School Board and district administrators were unaware of that when the board voted May 28 to discontinue the contracts of 22 SLAs (student learning advocates) and four Indian education advisers.

“When you aim at the heart of what we do – cutting hundreds of thousands of dollars – we don’t have much choice,” said Superintendent Dennis Carlson, speaking of the decision board members made to eliminate those positions.

With the reduced cuts, it now looks like some of those positions will be reinstated.

“This is really dealing with matters of the heart … building relationships, connecting with adults,” said Jinger Gustafson, associate superintendent of middle schools.

“We have an incredible range of student support in Anoka-Hennepin. Student support is a huge piece in closing the achievement gap.”

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

Indian education advisers work to encourage and inspire academic achievement, social and emotional development and cultural awareness of the district’s American Indian students.

At its June 10 work session, school board members were updated on the rehiring process.

James Greer, inclusion and diversity coordinator for District 11, told board members, “We are reviewing student service positions, reviewing the program, developing roles, responsibilities and geographic structure.”

And Linda Anderson, director of student services, said that 16 percent of the district’s entire integration budget can be used for the positions.

“We need to determine how many FTEs (full-time equivalent) that will be,” Anderson said.

She told board members that a recommendation for re-hiring would be presented during the June 24 school board meeting for approval. If approved, the positions would be posted early in July and hired the week of July 22.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

  • Robin Mavis

    It’s interesting that they claim they were not aware that the cuts were not as dramatic before the May 28th meeting because I questioned Dennis Carlson on the actual integration cuts happening in an email to him on May 18th! Where I stated that the MDE had stated that at that time there were no cuts that had been made as of yet – not the $300K nor the $450K.

    Now how can the district say they didn’t know what was happening??? Isn’t it the job of this financial whiz in the district they have been patting on the back to find out what is going on at the state level and track it???

    I want to know how much money is it now going to cost to rehire people – there is a cost to a rehiring process.

    This district wastes so much money by ineffeciencies and people not doing their jobs well.

    • Tammy

      I agree Robin, we found out the same thing even after I spoke to the board in May. There is a surplus in general funding anyways. If they would quit wasting our money on buildings and stupid decisions we’d maybe be able to focus more on the students. Sandburg Middle School building is only worth $3 million but they’ve already sank $6 million into it (or will be at least this much throughout 5 years), and how many students actually use that building on a day to day basis? This is appalling. These staff members should have never been fired to begin with. They are only making changes because they were called out on it. I think they need to look a little further into their budget because then they would see that they’d have money to rehire all of them. They just made a new position and hired a cafeteria supervisor. I think we need these advocates more than the cafeteria supervisor, especially when so many of our district lunch ladies won awards for their lunch programs.

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