School started for students last week and we had a great opening week! Although we had an altered schedule for Thursday to provide time for our keynote speaker for returning to school, the week went very, very well!
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!
We had a great turnout of students for opening day! Last spring we projected that we would open this fall with about the same number of students as we ended last year—about 2025 students. Over the course of the summer, we saw a great deal of student change with many students enrolling in the ROCORI Schools.
At the last school board meeting in August, we had information indicating we should have about 2065 students on opening day. On September 1, we opened the year with 2065 students in attendance! As we opened the year, every grade except kindergarten had more students enrolled than our budget estimates indicated.
The enrollment increase is a great testament to the programs, academic system, and activities that are offered in the ROCORI School District. We have had a goal of becoming a “district of choice” in this area and, at least for this year, it appears that people are choosing ROCORI. We are very proud of the quality education we are able to offer!
On Thursday afternoon, Kevin Honeycutt was our back-to-school keynote speaker. Several School Board members and I were able to hear Mr. Honeycutt last winter at the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) conference. We were very impressed with his message and worked to have him come to our community.
Kevin had an incredible personal story to share about his journey from a student who was in at least 22 different school settings during his academic years to his time as a teacher and then his experience as a school board leader and educational consultant. His personal story was told as he focused on two primary themes—that education takes every person engaged in the school setting and that we must work hard to personalize the learning experience.
Kevin’s message is very powerful, challenging, and inspiring. It was a privilege and pleasure to have Mr. Honeycutt talk to our school staff.
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 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). In addition to the services from CMMHC, last year we entered into a service agreement with True Balance, a mental health service provider based in Little Falls and St. Joseph. These arrangements will provide mental health professionals at the elementary and secondary levels.
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 come through the collaborative 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.
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 continue to offer these services to our students and families.