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 firstname.lastname@example.org