Fulfillment of Strategic Plan and continued support of the District Mission

The new District Strategic Plan was developed during 2017-18 with more than 200 volunteers consisting of students, families, staff and community members. This work was community led and community developed. 

  • We will ensure that each student is the primary agent in their learning.
  • We will provide expanding access to a broad range of opportunities for all students.
  • We will foster community engagement and partnerships.
  • We will build organizational capacity.
  • We will embrace all cultures with humility and respect.
  • We will ensure learning environments enhance students’ educational experience.
  • We will engage families as partners in the education of their children.
  • We will ensure the social and emotional growth of each student.
  • We will imagine new concepts in learning and teaching at White Bear Lake Area High School.

Continue the work to address the achievement (opportunity) gap

Minnesota Statutes 2013, section 120B.11, a school board, at a public meeting, shall adopt a comprehensive, long-term strategic plan to support and improve teaching and learning that is aligned with creating the World’s Best Workforce (WBWF). In order to create the WBWF, academic achievement gaps must be closed among the following groups.

  • All racial and ethnic groups of students  
  • Students living and not living in poverty 
  • English language learners and non-English language learners
  • Students who receive and do not receive special education.

While the pandemic has slowed our progress and ability to report on all our foundational initiatives, the work to address these gaps and improve educational equity continues in earnest for the 2021-2022 school year. Some of the plans and initiatives undertaken to address these gaps; BARR (Building Assets Reducing Risks), AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), Title I Plan, School Improvement Plans, School Readiness Program Plan, Local Literacy Plan, Equity Audit, Career Pathways, 4-Way Equity Decision Making Protocol, Plan for Educator Effectiveness, Alternative Delivery of Specialized Instructional Services, Restorative Dialog, Continuous Improvement Monitoring Progress Plan, Academic Supports, Equitable Access To Excellent Teachers, Summer School Catch Up, Academic Interventions, and Analyzing Student Data (discipline, academic, special education referrals).

We must continue the implementation and assessment of the World’s Best Workforce and Equity Plan to address the achievement gap and ensure all students are engaged, making social and academic progress, and equipped with necessary skills for the 21st century.

Continue the fight to fund special education fully and equitably

Federal and parallel state law under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), FAPE (Free Appropriate Education), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require Minnesota to provide disabled students with a free and appropriate public K-12 education through age 21 or until a student completes secondary school, whichever comes first. 

The White Bear Lake District fully supports these mandates, but unfortunately the state of Minnesota and federal government only cover a portion of the cost of these mandates. The federal government, under the IDEA, should be funding 40% of the special education costs, but has never funded states over 15%. That leaves it up to Minnesota to cover the remaining costs, which it is doing at a rate of approximately 63%. This means that the White Bear Lake District must pull money from the general education budget which would otherwise be spent paying teachers, purchasing educational materials, maintaining aging buildings, etc.

This is the No. 1 issue for us from a budgetary standpoint in White Bear Lake. Our district has seen our special education shortfall increase by more than 20 percent over the last five years. Currently, White Bear Lake District spends $24.8M yearly on special education related costs, but only receives $12.4M from state and federal sources. That leaves $11.3M we must divert to special education from our general education budget— the equivalent of more than $1,200 for every student in the district.

The final Education Bill for 2022/23 is a good step forward with a 2.45%/2% increase in the general education formula and a one time $10.4M special education cross-subsidy aid, but that $10.4M is split across all districts in Minnesota, and the formula increase only equates to an increase of $161 per pupil in 2022 and $296 in 2023. A far cry from the $1200 we have been and continue to spend per pupil to cover all special education costs.