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Welcome to the 2019-2020 School Year!
Borg Report August 6, 2019
I am excited to welcome you to another year in Westonka Public Schools! We have some big changes coming this fall, but unchanged is our commitment to being an innovative district delivering educational excellence for all students.
Later start times coming this fall
In an effort to improve our students' mental health and wellbeing, all Westonka Schools will have later start times starting in 2019-2020 (see left column for details). These changes were carefully designed to offer secondary students a later start, and specifically to provide them with added sleep that research has shown to be critical to development and learning. We believe that student mental health and wellbeing are crucial aspects of school safety, and I am proud that our staff has taken steps to improve our students’ mental health at all levels.
Welcoming our earliest learners to campus
Last spring, the district made the decision to move early childhood programming out of Stonegate Plaza in Mound and onto our school campuses, starting with the 2019-2020 school year. The 3-year-old preschool and 3-year-old Adventure Club programs will be held this year at Shirley Hills Primary School, which offers our earliest learners a secure entrance and cafeteria, as well as a playground specifically designed for preschool-age children. Early Childhood Family Education classes have moved to the Educational Service Center. For 2020-2021, the plan is to offer 4-year-old preschool at both primary school locations, aligning students with the school where they would attend kindergarten.
This configuration is temporary, only until the district can develop a Phase II Early Learning Center plan that the community will support.
School board continues to review a long-term finance strategy
Through its budget planning process, the Westonka School Board has identified restructuring the district’s operating levies as a possible means to provide long-term financial security. State funding has not kept up with inflation over the last decade, and unfunded federal and state mandates divert funds from other needed programming. Even with annual budget reductions and enrollment growth, the past two years the district has dipped into its fund reserve to keep competitive class sizes and programs.
A proposal presented to the board in July involves revoking the district’s three existing operating levies and combining them into a single 10-year levy with an increase. The new levy would be issued in two steps, providing long-term support and lessening the tax impact by asking for funds when they are needed by the district. The board will vote on this proposal at its August 19 board meeting at the Educational Service Center.
As always, please feel free to contact me directly with any questions or concerns. We look forward to welcoming back our students and staff after Labor Day!