Board Updates is a new series to provide a dedicated landing page for updates from GFW School Board meetings.
January 30, 2023
School and Community Recognition
For the January School and Community Recognition, the board celebrated longtime GFW bus driver Jon Lagerstedt, who passed away recently. Jon was a part of our transportation team for 25 years and a valued member of our community. Superintendent Horton shared some of the memories from family and community members that celebrated Jon as a positive and friendly person who was committed to his community through service on the Township board and always being positive with students. Most of all, Jon is remembered for his love of our community at GFW. “We honor GFW family member Mr. Jon Lagerstedt for his commitment to both school and community,” said Dr. Horton. The board then honored Jon’s life with a moment of silence.
Dr. Horton shared an update on the current state of the district with a review of the strategic planning process that included data review, needs assessment, standards, and more ultimately leading to the plan established in 2021 with strong community involvement. Several goals of the strategic plan have either been met or are currently in progress, with more work to come!
Board Elects Officers
The GFW School Board held an election of officers choosing a chair, vice chair, clerk, and treasurer. Member Dan Merkel was elected as Board Chair with Drew Schmidt elected as Vice Chair. Emilee Stehr was elected as Clerk, and Amy Acree was elected as Treasurer. Congratulations to the board officers!
Dual Language Immersion Plans for GFW Elementary
Dr. Amy Young from the Minnesota Department of Education presented to the board on Dual Language Immersion and upcoming plans for GFW Elementary School to introduce new programming for Kindergarten.
Research shows a wide variety of benefits for dual language immersion education that benefits both native English and Spanish speakers in the early grades. A two-way dual language program involves Spanish and English speaking students learning together in both languages each day. In standardized tests, students who are in two-way dual language programs consistently outperform students from other models.
At GFW, the program will begin with a small group of students beginning in Kindergarten for the 2023-24 school year who will have access to a dual language immersion learning experience that will continue to grow one year at a time. The district will utilize the 50/50 model where students will spend half their day learning in English and half and Spanish with the class made up of both native English and Spanish speaking students. There will still be the English only option for Kindergarten, with this option supporting a small group of students and offering the only immersion option in our area.
More information will be shared with incoming families as part of the GFW Elementary School Kindergarten Kick Off event.
There is lots of news about funding changes supported by the Governor and the state Legislature. The governor’s budget proposes an increase to the Ag2School Tax Credit to 80% which would create a significant impact for communities like GFW. Other changes proposed include facility funding options, LTFM, and board authority to bond for facility upgrades without voter approval. There is also a proposal to address the special education cross subsidy, which is another legislative priority of our district.
GFW Public Schools is also working with each of the three namesake communities of our district on a bill to propose to the legislature that would bring in $1 million in funding for economic development for Gibbon, Fairfax and Winthrop if the district gets a new facility. Funding could be used for transitioning current facilities to other uses and be a great boost tour area.
Financial Audit Report
Representatives from Abdo Financial Solutions, LLC presented their audit that looked into the district’s financials. The report was very positive with a spotlight on the unrestricted fund balance out of statutory operating debt and trending towards the district’s established fund balance policy. Compared to other districts in the state, GFW is trending positively and approaching the state average for fund balance. Property taxes were shown as lower than our region and the state average. The district’s food service fund was noted as over budget, and there are plans for the district to use the money for equipment purchases. Overall the audit reflects the hard work of our district team to right the ship and establish a stable and sustainable budget.