2012 Superintendent Mail

MDE WEEKLY SUPERINTENDENT MAIL

TO: Superintendents

FROM: Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Commissioner

DATE: March 1, 2012

MDE NEWS AND INFORMATION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

• Leap Into Reading Day – February 29

Governor Dayton has proclaimed February 29 “Leap Into Reading” Day. With the flurry of snow blanketing Minnesota, it is a perfect time to read with a child. In fact, the department's own reading mascot, Read-It, has challenged himself to read a book every day in March! (Follow his reading adventures on Facebook and Twitter, hashtag #ReadItAcrossMN.) View proclamation.

• Promoting Lifelong Literacy!

The Minnesota Department of Education is launching a statewide literacy campaign designed to raise awareness of programs that promote lifelong reading success. The department develops and supports a variety of programs from Early Learning to Adult Basic Education, that make lifelong literacy accessible for all Minnesotans. Access our NEW Lifelong Literacy page for literacy resources, future updates and note that March 2nd is the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day.


ACTION ITEMS

• Change in State Aid Payment Schedule Due to February Forecast

The memorandum from Tom Melcher, director, Division of School Finance, regarding the above-mentioned matter, is attached to the e-mail message you received that links to the Superintendents web page. Note that this memorandum was sent as a special mailing to you on February 29. For assistance with questions, please contact Audrey Bomstad at audrey.bomstad@state.mn.us or 651-582-8793; or to Ann Van Diest at ann.vandiest@state.mn.us or 651-582-8745.

• State Aid Payment Error/Delayed Deposit

The memorandum from Audrey Bomstad, Division of School Finance, regarding the above-mentioned matter, is attached to the e-mail message you received that links to the Superintendents web page. Note that this memorandum was sent as a special mailing to you on February 28. For assistance with questions, please contact Ann Van Diest at ann.vandiest@state.mn.us or 651-582-8745.


MISCELLANEOUS

• School Safety Reminder, Resources and Safe School Self-Assessment Checklist

As we approach spring, it is a good time to review district-wide safety procedures and check to be sure that all school buildings have run their tornado, fire and lock-down drills for the year. We want to also remind you that the resources of the Minnesota School Safety Center are online at: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/hsem/mn-school-safety-center/Pages/default.aspx.

The Minnesota School Safety Center has created a safe school self-assessment checklist for schools to use when conducting their own assessments. While not intended to be prescriptive, this self-assessment is designed to assist schools with evaluating their facilities for strengths and areas of vulnerability. Not all assessment measures will apply to any one school. Items in the assessment that are not present in a particular school building can be eliminated for that building’s assessment. A report with recommendations for improvement should be generated to guide corrective actions. Download a copy of the safe school self-assessment checklist.

For assistance with questions, contact Nancy Riestenberg, School Climate Specialist, at nancy.riestenberg@state.mn.us or 651-582-8433.

• EPA's Draft K-12 School Environmental Health Program Guidelines Posted for Public Comment with Available Funding

On February 27, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released for public comment the K-12 School Environmental Health Program Guidelines for States, Tribes and Territories. In December 2007, Congress enacted the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). Subtitle E, Section 504 of EISA requires the EPA, in consultation with the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services and other relevant federal agencies, to develop voluntary guidelines to assist states in establishing and implementing environmental health programs in K-12 schools.

Exposure to environmental hazards in schools can negatively impact the health of students and school staff. Unhealthy school environments can affect attendance, concentration and performance. In carrying out this statutory mandate, EPA, with assistance from its federal partners and feedback from stakeholders, developed these draft voluntary State K-12 School Environmental Health Program Guidelines. The guidelines are primarily intended to be used as a resource for the establishment of a state, tribal, or territorial K-12 school environmental health program.

Your feedback will help in the development of useful guidelines to states, tribes, and territories that will better support healthy school environments for our nation's children. We encourage you to review the draft guidelines and provide comments by April 13, 2012. Please visit the EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection School's website at www.epa.gov/schools to post your comments.

EPA is also happy to announce the release of a Request for Applications (RFA) which will provide funding for implementation of the draft voluntary guidelines. Eligibility for funding under this competitive solicitation is limited to states, tribes and territories. Total funding available is expected to be $750,000 and applications for up to $150,000 will be accepted. The closing date for receipt of applications is April 10. For more information, including a copy of the RFA, go to: www.epa.gov/schools.

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