A FEW NOTES
School starts for students this week! After our Back to School workshop with staff last week, students begin classes on Tuesday, September 2. We want to welcome our students to our campuses and classrooms.
As we begin the year, I want to cover a few brief topics. The topics are not related to each other, but simply things we need to share!
TRAVEL THROUGH CAMPUS
With the utility and road work on County Road 50 during the summer, our driveway and campus parking lot became a “shortcut” or unofficial detour between County 2 and County 50. Although the closing of the stretch of County 50 brought a lot of vehicles and traffic onto the campus, with the start of school the “shortcut” has to come to an end.
Effective with the start of school on Tuesday, September 2, we will be using our gates to close the route to traffic. The parking lot area between Cold Spring Elementary and the secondary site is a key part of our playground for the elementary students. In order to ensure safety for our students, the gates will be used.
The gates will close with the start of the student school day. From 8:20 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., the gates will be used and traffic will be stopped from crossing through.
We were able to assist residents with a shorter route during the summer months, that is not possible during the school year. Effective September 2, we will begin closing the gates to protect the playground area.
Over the past few weeks, three community businesses worked together to collect donations for school supplies for the three ROCORI elementary schools. I want to take a moment to thank residents and the businesses for their efforts to support our students and classrooms.
Jimmy’s Pizza, Farmers Insurance and Precision Collision served as collection points for residents to drop off supplies. We received a good assortment of supplies including markers, colors, paper, backpacks, “Kleenex” tissues, glue sticks and bottles, and many other items.
Richmond Elementary, Cold Spring Elementary and John Clark Elementary (Rockville) schools will each receive a portion of the supplies to use in their classrooms! Thank you for the donations and the support of our students!
During the course of the summer, space at the District Education Facility (DEF) has been remodeled. The space, used as the Industrial Technology area just north of the Commons during the time that the Middle School operated at the site, will become the new home for the ROCORI Senior Center.
The move from the previous area to the new space has occurred for a number of reasons. One of the most significant advantages is better accessibility for seniors at that end of the building. Rather than the long, sloping ramp, the sidewalk leads directly to the doors outside the new space. The new space allows the Senior Center to reorganize areas and spaces as well as providing an update to the areas.
The construction of the space is essentially complete and the Senior Center will be making a physical move this week. Over several days, the large furnishings will be moved along with all the other Senior Center materials and equipment. The new Senior Center is planning an open house to showcase the space later in September.
Although the remainder of the work will not happen immediately, we will be converting the former senior center space into additional classroom spaces. With new Community Education Director John Hodson starting his position in September, we want to give him opportunity to look over the facilities, observe operations, listen to constituents and staff, and then work collectively on a plan to the spaces.
SCHOOL MESSENGER SERVICE
As we begin the school year, we want to remind our families that we will communicate different types of messages—in particular, school closing announcements—over the School Messenger (SkyLert) system.
If parents have had a change in phone numbers or email addresses, now is a great time to inform our building offices and update the information! That way, as we get into the seasons with more frequent announcements, contact will be ensured. Please connect with our offices if there have been changes in email or telephone numbers!
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
We are excited, as we open the school year, to share information about expansion of student (and family) mental health resources and services. The outside consultants and service providers will work closely with our counseling and administrative staff to serve students in need and their families.
Over the past several years, we have been able to receive some support from Central Minnesota Mental Health Center (CMMHC). At the end of last year, it appeared that this mental health service was likely to come to an end as the funding source ended.
As such, we pursued a service agreement with True Balance, a mental health service provider based in Little Falls and St. Joseph. This agreement will provide mental health professionals at the elementary and secondary levels. We will be served by Pam Walz, Heather Anderson, and Hannah Rogak from True Balance.
Our agreement was developed based on resources provided back to the district from the Stearns County Family Collaborative through Local Collaborative Time Studies (LCTS) funds. These funds, which were available until about five years ago and have now been partially restored, are collaborative funds based on staff members reporting on a regular basis how they are serving students. We are receiving a little more than $11,000 in grant funds—which must be used to serve “at-risk” students.
While we were working on the contract with True Balance, we also received notice that CMMHC received a different grant and funding stream during the summer. As such, their contract for services with school districts was renewed and the services we had previously received will be continued.
Between the two contracts we will have mental health professionals available to students for much of the school week. At least three days each week, and likely into four days, the district will have access to the services of these professionals. Again, we will work through our counselors, but we are excited to offer these services to our students and families.