2012 Superintendent Mail


TO: Superintendents

FROM: Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Commissioner

DATE: November 8, 2012

Please disseminate this information to the appropriate staff in your district.


Minnesota College Application Week – November 12-16, 2012

Back by popular demand, Minnesota College Application Week will be held next week, November 12-16! This is Minnesota’s second year of participation in the national effort, and the number of schools participating has increased significantly. The week provides a framework for high schools and postsecondary institutions to collaborate in a concentrated effort to engage and inform underrepresented (first generation college students, students of color, and low-income) students about the college application process as well as to highlight college and career readiness efforts occurring throughout the state. Some postsecondary institutions will be waiving their application fees this week for qualifying students, and many postsecondary institutions have a fee-waiver policy for low-income students.

Last year, the week resulted in triple the number of applications submitted by Minnesota students, from 5,000 to more than 15,000. With over 100 high schools participating this year, an even greater number of students are expected to submit applications.

In addition to climate- and awareness-building activities, high schools have committed to dedicating time during the regular school day, during this week, to have seniors complete a college application with the assistance of trained school staff and volunteers.

The energy and collaboration surrounding this initiative have been both exciting and encouraging while reflecting the commitment of Minnesotans to ensure equitable pathways to higher education for all of our students. To support this effort, participating organizations have recruited volunteers to directly assist the registered high schools in carrying out Minnesota College Application Week activities or events. Watch for Minnesota seniors to be proudly wearing bright, neon green “I Applied” wristbands!

Visit the Minnesota College Access Network website for information and resources.

Commissioner’s Dialogue with Superintendents – November 19 Conference Call

School district superintendents are invited to participate in the monthly dialogue via audio conference call with Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. The next conference call is scheduled for Monday, November 19, 9:30-10:30 a.m. Call-in instructions will be e-mailed to you 2-3 days prior to the conference call.

Federal Grant Opportunity – Alternatives to Suspension

Federal funds from CFDA 84.027A, Special Education – Grants to States, are available for the purpose of building the capacity of schools to develop a systemic approach to alternatives to suspension and implement evidence-based interventions that reduce the number of out-of-school suspensions.

Approximately $80,000 is available to fund four (4) projects up to $20,000 each. The grant opportunity instructions and application documents are available on the MDE website. Access the website for open grant opportunities.

Submitted and signed applications are due by December 4, 2012, 12:00, Midnight, Central Time. For assistance with questions, please e-mail Cindy Shevlin-Woodcock, Division of Special Education, or call 651-582-8656.

Reading Well by Third Grade Webinar Series: Implementing Local Literacy Plans

The Minnesota Department of Education is offering a series of webinars to assist Minnesota school districts with the implementation of local literacy plans consistent with the requirements of the 2011 Education Bill, Chapter 2. The webinars are scheduled for November 26, 2012, January 28, 2013, and March 4, 2013. All webinars begin at 1:00 p.m. Central, and the duration is approximately 90 minutes. Visit the Reading Well by Third Grade website for more details.

District curriculum leaders, administrators, literacy coordinators, AYP coordinators, early learning directors and providers and other Minnesota educators with similar job descriptions serving learners PK-12 are invited to attend. District and site leadership teams are strongly encouraged to participate together.

These webinars are offered free of charge, but registration is required. Register online. For assistance with questions, e-mail Kari Ross, MDE Reading Specialist, or call 651-582-8455.

Human Rights Symposium – December 3, 2012

The Human Rights Symposium will be held Monday, December 3, 2012, 8:30 a.m., at the University of Minnesota Continuing Education and Conference Center in St. Paul. (Registration is 8:00-8:30 a.m.)  Workshop topics include school bullying, voting rights in Minnesota, the use of criminal background checks in the hiring process, recent efforts to eliminate racial employment disparities, and more. In the School Bullying workshop, Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and members of the Governor’s Task Force on the Prevention of School Bullying will discuss the current state of the law, the testimony they received, the report submitted calling for a series of reforms including the enactment of new school bullying legislation, and why they believe the recommendations in the report need to be acted upon to reduce school bullying.

Who Should Attend? This event is a great opportunity for attorneys, employers, educators and others concerned with human rights and social justice to get the latest updates and trends on the issues shaping our society today.

Workshop speakers include Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Commissioner of Human Rights Kevin Lindsey, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, Judge Pamela Alexander, and Ms. Karen Francois, the Director of Employment Equity at the Minneapolis Department of Human Rights. See event and registration details. For assistance with questions, call 651-539-1126 (TTY 651-296-1283) or Toll Free 1-800-657-3704.

Minnesota Computers for Schools – Monthly Promotion

Minnesota Computers for Schools (MCFS) refurbishes donated computers and provides them to schools at a minimal charge. See their Special Deals for November.