Column: An update from the 2010 MSBA conferenceWORTHINGTON — All seven members of the District 518 school board and Superintendent John Landgaard attended the 89th annual Minnesota School Boards Association’s (MSBA) leadership conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center Jan. 14-15.
By: Linden Olson, District 518, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — All seven members of the District 518 school board and Superintendent John Landgaard attended the 89th annual Minnesota School Boards Association’s (MSBA) leadership conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center Jan. 14-15. Conference sponsors make attendance at the yearly conference free except for travel expenses, meals and lodging.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Doing the Right Thing for Kids.” Dr. Bruce Weinstein was the opening speaker and linked the conference theme to five principles of ethics that he called life principles. They were 1. Do No Harm (but if harm is unavoidable minimize it); 2. Make Things Better (both for others and oneself); 3. Respect Others; 4. Be Fair; and 5. Be Loving. The closing speaker, Byran Townsend, mixed humor with inspiration in telling his audience that “Good things don’t happen by accident — they happen on purpose” and school officials should “Care enough to do the right things for kids.” While the audience was gathering for the opening session, the Pine City Jazz One Band entertained before the colors were presented by Johnson Sr. High AFJROTC, and four students sang an inspiring arrangement of the National Anthem. Closing session gathering entertainment was by the Fertile-Beltrami Jazz Band.
At the awards luncheon Thursday afternoon Steve Schnieder, a District 518 board member, received a President Award for having attended over 300 hours of MSBA training programs.
Before and during the conference over 80 workshops, discussions and presentations by students, vendors, education leaders and public officials were held on a wide range of education related topics. The topics covered help board members and superintendents become informed about educational matters and build skills that help improve the way they accomplish their work for school districts. They can also learn about board duties, what innovative programs are working in other schools and ideas other leaders in education see that are effective in improving student outcomes.
Some of the gleanings from the Worthington attendees included the following: a high school Spanish class that spent two periods a week with ESL pre-school children helping the students learn conversational Spanish in a way not possible in a classroom-only setting; things to look at in a superintendent’s contract; the growing trend of online learning and the opportunities it creates for both students and school districts; “Gateway to Technology,” a middle school science program that students were enthusiastic about; the implications and impact of the state tax revenue shortfall on school district budgets; a corporate partner program between a school and businesses that raised money for school related activities while reducing the number of school related fund raising activities; the requirements of Q Comp, a pay-for-performance program for teachers; the present and future outlook for school district funding; future changes in state assessments and tests; and legal issues for board members to be aware of.
Over the coming months, the board and administration will be looking to see if any of these or other ideas will be a good fit for Worthington.
Linden Olson is a member of the District 518 Board of Education, and wrote the column on behalf of the board and Superintendent John Landgaard.