Board Updates

The GFW School Board held their regular meeting on Monday, April 17. Below is a summary of the meeting. 

Watch the meeting on YouTube:

School and Community Recognition

For the School And Community  Recognition, the board recognized the members for the Reading Corps currently serving students at GFW Elementary. Alicia Sjogren, Johanna Jutz, Nancy Sonnek, Susanna Marroquin, and Catherine Schiro were honored as a valuable asset for students in our district. “Your dedication and commitment to improving literacy skills among our students is truly remarkable,” said Director of Student and Community Programs, Tonia Schiro. 

There are currently five reading corps members at GFW Elementary serving students in the three and four year old preschool classes and up through elementary school. These dedicated educators build great relationships with students and work individually and in group settings to improve overall literacy and get students excited about reading by improving phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension and other areas. 

“Through your efforts, our students are not only developing important skills, but they are also developing a love of reading that will serve them well throughout their lives,” said Principal Jennifer Thompson. “You are helping to create life-long learners who will go on to achieve great things and that is truly remarkable.”

Thank you to the amazing work of our Reading Corps members, you are truly making a difference for our students. 

Public Comments

A community member and former board member provided public comment for the board to consider changing how the GFW School Board is selected and to consider adding a seventh member. 

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Horton started his report sharing about the impact of the April 11 referendum vote and the opportunity for the community to continue to work together for students:

“Last week was a big day for our school district. And a lot of the talk was focused around the facility, but that’s not really what I saw. I know we voted on a facility, but there was a bigger thing that I saw happening over the last months and I think that the outcome showed us that as well. I think it was mentioned a bit in the public comment tonight about the common themes about coming together as a community, about not looking at ourselves as three cities but one united district. I think we have been working on that for thirty some years and what I saw and was really excited about over the past few months was people coming together from all parts of our district, from our townships, from our cities saying that we want to come together as a community, not just one city coming together, but multiple cities coming together for a common purpose. 

"The amount of positive energy there and the amount of positivity was touching, it really was. I get a little emotional thinking about it, yes, we have a facility and we needed one and that is wonderful, but there was something else happening there. I think that as community members, superintendent, administrators, teachers, board members, I think we need to rally around that and continue to find ways to work with our community and continue to grow together and to support everybody across our district and keep that positive energy going. I just wanted to say that’s what I recognized. 

"Yes, we are excited to have a new facility and spend the next two years working on that, but there is something deeper and more important happening there and I think we need to pause and pay attention to that. We need to use that as a catalyst to continue to provide a great education for our students and to help all of our community members. School districts don’t just serve the students, we employ people, we are a direct connection to the community, we are a source of pride, there are so many different things that a school district brings to a community and I can’t recall the last time I saw around 67% of the community supporting a question on a facility. That is unheard of, that is amazing, and the fact that our community did that is beyond words. 

"The two most common words that I got from people around the state were 'wow' and 'congratulations' and it’s amazing what you as a community have done. I just want to keep that going. So my update is just to point out something I noticed and that others are feeling and seeing, and I really want to be part of continuing that. I encourage all of us to try to work together and use this as a place to launch from and continue to do great things for our community. 

Thank you to our community, thank you to our board, thank you to our cabinet members, teachers, everybody who is listening. We appreciate you. I know not everybody said yes, and we never will but 67% is quite a statement and we appreciate all of that. For those people who voted differently, we are here to work with you as well and work together as one community.”

School Reports

Principal Thompson presented about GFW Elementary and the plans for the end of the school year. The Arts Camp is coming up in June and there is planning around the summer programs and Lit Camp that was successful last year. Teachers are busy working on their LETRS training which they are extremely excited about. MCA testing is also happening this week with students working hard to prepare. 

Students also were excited about the outcome of the election and were sharing their ideas for a new building and being energized about what is to come for their school. 

Principal Galetka introduced the new school board representative from GFW High School. “I asked our staff to nominate a student school board leader and it is my privilege to introduce Ms. Catherine Stoll,” said Principal Galetka. “Catherine Stoll is highly recommended by myself and the staff at GFW Middle School and High School. Her teachers state that Catherine is a student who is connected to the school and community through many different roles and is a compassionate leader who looks out for the welfare of others and she cares deeply for her school.”

There was also a lot of excitement among the students about the results of the election among high school and middle school students. The middle school report highlighted the work happening at GFW Middle School which now houses grades 5 through 8 which are housed in one part of the building in a true middle school model. Middle school teachers are working in a professional learning community together as opposed to the high school which is more by department.

The team includes classroom teachers as well as high school crossover teachers, special education teachers who co-teach, interventionists, social worker, dean of students, and cultural liaison to support students throughout the day. Students are able to choose between choir and band, which has been exciting for them. There is also a focus on core classes and additional opportunities like introductions to the academies and pathways model and a college and career readiness class for students in eighth grade. 

Students are really enjoying the introductions into the AEM, BACE, and HSHS academy courses and are getting excited about additional opportunities that they can take advantage of in high school. Guest speakers have also been visiting classes to talk about career opportunities and things like registration support, and other life skills. 

Students are being assessed through the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) model to provide extra support for students who need additional interventions. The support team consists of staff members in the building as well as virtual support for additional needs like school psychologists, speech therapy and other supports. 

Another tool being used at GFW Middle School is Restorative Practices. It focuses on building healthy relationships between educators and students by resolving conflicts through accountability and communication. By using a matrix that guides different approaches to behaviors, the goal is to resolve conflict and leave students with a positive feeling as they continue to improve their behavior and develop those important relationship skills. 

Student School Board Representative Report 

New Student School Board Representative Catherine Stoll shared her excitement to work with the board while collaborating with adults in the community. “I am also not scared to share the my opinions and those of my classmates because we are in the schools every day and you may not be there everyday,” said Stoll. 

There are lots of exciting things happening with field trips taking place with the greenhouse class taking a trip, NHS helping out at a food shelf, and sports medicine class traveling to Ridgewater College to explore opportunities there. Spring Fling is coming up and there will be lots of fun activities. Spring athletics are starting to get outside and other musical activities are coming up including concerts, the variety show, and competitions. 

She also shared her excitement for the new school being approved by voters and shared hope of being able to have an excellent education for students in the district. 

The solo and ensemble competition resulted in some high achievements and students are preparing for upcoming concerts. Drive your tractor to school day also took place recently which was a lot of fun. The Ag Career and College Fair was well-received and there are upcoming service opportunities including a food drive and blood drive. Student Representative Abi Lee shared that applications are open for NHS and that more service opportunities are coming up. Prom Committee is selling tickets and gearing up for decorating the gym.

The class of 2023 is also preparing for graduation on June 3.

Board Reports

There were no board reports shared. 

Consent Agenda

Motions were made and seconded to approve the consent agenda which was then approved by the board. 

Resolutions and Action Items

The first resolution was on the new PreK-8 ELA curriculum Amplify. Vice Chair Schmidt made a motion to approve with member Stehr seconding the motion. The motion was approved. 

A resolution for a new 9-12 ELA curriculum StudySync was also approved with the same members making and seconding motions. 

A K-12 science curriculum Discovery Education was also approved by the board. 

A resolution to canvas the election results of the April 11 election was held as required by Minnesota law. The board voted unanimously to approve the results of the election. 

View the results of the election 

A resolution was also heard on the bond sale for the facility that was approved by voters in the election. Financial Consultant Steve Pumper provided more information to the board on the next steps. The election results give the district the authority to proceed by issuing $69.9 million in General Obligation School Building Bonds. He shared that by moving forward now the district will have favorable interest and investment rates with the expectation that the project will be substantially completed within three years and the process will move forward. The timeline was laid out for passing a parameters resolution during the meeting with PMA drafting bond documents and holding a rating call in May with the bond sale happening on June 12 and being ratified by the board on June 19 and bond closing on July 13. 

Board members asked questions about interest rates and the impact of the resolution before voting unanimously to approve the resolution on the building bond sale. 

The board also accepted donations from the community to the school district. 

The board closed the meeting for a closed session for executive discussion. 

Upon returning from closed session, the board expressed their commitment to affirm the office and the trust assumed as members of the GFW canvassing board for the special election to the counties represented by the district. 

The board then adjourned the meeting.