Page 1: District 191 Newsletter Fall 2014

Your Schools Your Community

Fall 2014VOLUME 7, NUMBER 1

At its meeting on Oct. 23, the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 Board of Education heard a comprehensive overview of Vision One91, a plan for the future to ensure the district’s mission of “Each Student Real-World Ready.” Board members also heard possible funding options to make that vision a reality.

Vision One91 is based on input received by Superintendent Joe Gothard during more than a year of parent and student conversations, community forums, staff meetings and PTO meetings.

While the school board has been receiving ongoing reports about Vision One91 as it has been developing over the past several months, the Oct. 23 presentation was the first review of two possible ballot questions to provide the financial resources the plan would require.

“Vision One91 is about redesigning our district to

better meet the needs of today’s learners,” said Gothard. “It’s the way to make sure their hopes and dreams for a bright future are realized and that they are ready for success in a competitive global economy.”

Also at the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Cindy Amoroso discussed how Vision One91 would create the right learning environment for students of all ages and positively impact daily classroom experiences. She explained how shifting to K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 schools would not only address the special social and emotional needs of middle schoolers, but would also reinforce the fact that 9th grade academic performance really matters for graduation and is a critical part of any post-secondary education application.

Director of Technology Doug Johnson explained how technology used to be a “nice to have” extra but has now

become a “have to have” to increase learning opportunities for all students and provide staff with the support they need to maximize technology use in the classroom.

Executive Director of Business Services Lisa Rider outlined the estimated costs to implement Vision One91 and explained what financial tools the district has available, including two possible school funding requests on a special election on Feb. 24, 2015.

How strong? How does a community respond to

the heart-breaking deaths of several of its young people in one year? A new initiative called #Burnsvillestrong is turning grief into positive actions.

Jen Waller McDevitt and Dave McDevitt have been teachers, coaches and activity advisors at Burnsville High School since 1999. Dave grew up in Burnsville and his mother was a long-time teacher in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191. The couple now lives in Burnsville with their three children who attend Gideon Pond Elementary.

“To say that our family is invested in this community would be an understatement,” said Jen. “We love our community and have continuously supported it throughout the years.”

That’s why the deaths of several current students or recent graduates over the past year have affected them so much. And they’re not the only ones.

“The Burnsville community has been hit hard with too many young people’s deaths,” said Jen. “Now we feel it is more important than ever to unite as a community around our kids.”

The hashtag #Burnsvillestrong was started by students about a year ago after the first two deaths and has gained in popularity through social media. Dave, Jen and others wanted to build upon it, so they launched the #Burnsvillestrong initative with the hope that the youth of Burnsville will know they are supported by their community.

Since officially taking off in August, #Burnsvillestrong has become visible far beyond the social media realm. The movement has gained city leaders, civic organizations and local businesses as partners and garnered television and newspaper coverage. Bumper stickers and t-shirts displaying the #Burnsvillestrong hastag can be seen throughout the city.

A full-fledged student group has formed and is already taking action. One of the group’s first projects is a “pay it forward” campaign. Students will leave

notecards along with small gifts or at the site of good deeds, asking simply that the recipient pass the act of kindness on to another and share it with the community through Facebook or Twitter.

Plus, in November, Burnsville High School will hold a day-long retreat for students focused on how to become strong through struggles together and be better equipped to move forward toward their futures.

“We want #Burnsvillestrong to represent remembrance and positive pride throughout Burnsville,” said Dave. “There are so many great things about our amazing community – we want to push the positives.”

Businesses, individuals and groups that are

interested in being part of the #Burnsvillestrong initiative should contact Jen Waller McDevitt at [email protected]. Learn more online at

District 191 honored for financial reportingFor the 26th consecutive year, Burnsville-Eagan-

Savage School District 191 received the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) award from the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International.

Considered to be the gold standard and the highest recognition for school district financial operations, the

award is only conferred to school districts that have met or exceeded the standards of the program. Only about 20 school districts in Minnesota receive the award each year and District 191 is one of the very few to have received it for so many consecutive years.

By preparing and presenting this report, District 191 validates the credibility and transparency of its

financial operations, measures the integrity and technical competence of its business staff, and strengthens presentations for bond issuance statements, according to an announcement from ASBO.

“This award recognizes our continuing effort to meet the highest standards of financial integrity,” said Superintendent Joe Gothard.


Details for Vision One91 on Page 2


Burnsville High School teachers Dave McDevitt and Jen Waller McDevitt

Board reviews Vision One91 proposal, will consider funding requests

Page 2: District 191 Newsletter Fall 2014


Three seniors at Burnsville High School (BHS) are among the most academically-talented schol-ars in the country based upon their performance in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship program. Jas-mine Lim (above center) is among fewer than one percent of students who are named as National Merit Semi-finalists. She will now be considered for National Merit Finalist status, a list that will be announced at a later date. Evan Fuller (above right) and Jack Hanson have been named as Com-mended Students, a designation that goes to fewer than 3.5 percent of those who took the test.

Edward Neill Elementary and Gideon Pond Elementary, both in Burnsville, were once again named Reward Schools by the state Department of Education. They ranked among the top 15 per-cent of schools in Minnesota that qualify for Title 1 funding based on the number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunches.

STAFF ACHIEVE Sharon Shelerud, a social studies teacher at Metcalf Junior High in Burnsville, was one of just 14 teachers chosen to travel to South Korea in August as part of a week-long field study experience thanks to the Northeast Asian History Foundation. Shelerud participated in a conference about the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula and toured areas including the Demilitarized Zone, agricultural and industrial sites, and the city of Seoul.

Nancy Meyer, elementary media specialist, was chosen to present at the Information and Technol-ogy Educators of Minnesota (ITEM) annual confer-ence in October. Meyer’s topic, “Using Technology to Bring Books to Life,” focused on using technol-ogy to enrich and expand the content of books for students.

Veronica McCartney, a fourth grade teacher at Marion W. Savage Elementary in Savage, and Jessica Perry, a music teacher at Harriet Bishop Elementary in Savage, were selected to receive $1,000 scholarships from the Hanson Scholarship Fund to further their own education. The schol-arships are given each year to teachers further committing to their teaching careers by earning graduate degrees. Additional information is avail-able at

Jennie Bordonaro, a behavior interventionist and assessment coach at Vista View Elementary in Burnsville, was featured in September by World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA), a national organization that supports teachers who work with English language learners. Bordonaro’s previous work co-teaching with ELL teacher Mindi Limberg is highlighted in the article, as well as work she’s done with other Vista View teachers in supporting refugee families who recently moved to the area. Read more at

Achievement: We are focused on learning and we get results

Two schools in District 191 celebrate 50th anniversariesThis fall, both Vista View Elementary and Sioux Trail Elementary Schools celebrated 50 years of educating children, supporting families and serving their communities. The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 schools were opened in 1964.

Students, families and staff members from both schools marched in Burnsville’s Fire Muster Parade on Sept. 6. In addition, both schools held special events including in-school anniversary programs and community gatherings to mark the occasion.

BHS students earn $1.7 million in free college creditsSTUDENTS SUCCEED

The four parts of Vision One91:1) Organize our schools to best support learning and ensure each student graduates real-world ready:

• Realign grades and schools to K-5, 6-8, 9-12 to match current best practices and state standards. This would move 6th graders from elementary schools to middle schools, and move 9th graders from junior highs to high school.

• Remodel some elementary schools to enlarge some kindergarten classrooms to meet district standards and to make space to expand early childhood programming; remove aging portable classrooms at William Byrne and replace with classroom addition.

• Close the senior campus and add classrooms at Burnsville High School to provide adequate learning spaces for up to 2,800 students in grades 9-12 – a shift from the current 2,080 students in grades 10-12 who currently attend there and the seniors who will no longer spend part of their day in a separate building.

• Build an Activity Center at Burnsville High School to expand the curricular, extra-curricular and community activities and athletics options available to both students and residents.

2) Improve security for a safer learning environment:• Create secure entries in schools that don’t already

have them.• Upgrade surveillance cameras.

3) Relocate programs and repurpose offices for effectiveness and efficiency:

• Move BEST (District’s transition program for 18-21 year old students with disabilities) and related programs from leased space into district-owned building to reduce lease costs.

• Consolidate districtwide employees into one location (Diamondhead Education Center) for more integrated and efficient work environment.

• Repurpose Diamondhead Education Center to provide expanded early childhood learning space, expanded classrooms for Adult Basic Education and additional space for professional development for staff members.

4) Increase technology to enhance classroom teaching and learning:

• Student resources – equitable access to technology, online individualized learning plans, portable wireless hubs.

• Classroom resources – online curriculum and learning systems, E-books, course management systems.

• Teacher resources – on-going training and support.• School and district resources – infrastructure to

support technology use in schools, classrooms and districtwide

While the school district can pay for some portions of Vision One91 through existing funds, it will require community support to be fully realized. Two proposed ballot questions were presented to provide the major funding needed:

Bond referendum of $63-$70 million – the first one proposed since the late 1990s – to fund the construction costs associated with realigning schools to K-5, 6-8 and 9-12, paying for security upgrades, relocating programs and offices and expanding early childhood spaces.

Technology levy – a “capital project levy” -- to provide $2.5 million per year for 10 years to provide critical technology for students, classrooms, staff and the district.

At its meeting on Nov. 13, the Board of Education is expected to make a final decision about whether to put the two school funding requests before voters in a special election on Feb. 24, 2015. Board meetings take place at Diamondhead Education Center, 200 W. Burnsville Pkwy, Burnsville. They are aired on local cable channels, live-streamed from the school district’s website and also archived there.

To learn more, visit

Vision One 91 continued from Page 1

New music classes being offered at Burnsville High School are popular with students, including many who have not been involved in the music program before.

Burnsville High School offers an extensive music department with several bands and choirs along with music theory classes. Orchestra was added this year along with three other new classes: Piano, Guitar and History of Rock & Roll. Nearly 300 students registered for the new classes, surprising even the teachers.

“Not every student who loves music wants to be part of a band or orchestra,” said Principal Dave Helke. “We wanted to offer some new classes that would be appealing to students who want a different music experience.”

Ezana Abraha, 11th grader, is a student like that. He enrolled in both the guitar and piano classes. “This is an opportunity to learn two instruments that I have wanted to learn,” he said. “And I can do it right in school.”

Research shows that students benefit in many ways from studying music, said BHS music teacher Molly Holmes. It boosts test scores, reading/math skills and academic success. It also teaches self discipline and increases self confidence.

Another advantage, said Helke is that when students find classes that excite them, then they feel more connected to school and are more successful overall. New music classes may also open doors to future careers for students in music-related occupations.

New music classes attract students at BHS

Last year, BHS students set a new record for their school by earning 3,653 credits through the College in the Schools (CIS) program, which saved them nearly $1.7 million in tuition since high school students do not pay to take CIS classes. Earned credits apply to the University of Minnesota but also transfer to other schools across the country.

Burnsville High School offers CIS courses in American history, government, economics, literature, writing, calculus, sociology, public speaking, Spanish and French. High school students taking CIS courses follow the same curriculum and are held to the same academic standards as students on the University of Minnesota campus.

“By taking CIS classes, students experience the rigor and increased pace of a college class while still in the comfortable support of their high school,” said Principal Dave Helke. “This is the best possible preparation for future success at colleges and universities.”

Page 3: District 191 Newsletter Fall 2014


Community Connections: Together everyone achieves more

SCHOOL DISTRICT 191BOARD OF EDUCATIONJIM SCHMID, Chair ....................................(952) 882-1651 [email protected]

BOB VANDENBOOM, Vice Chair ..........(651) 454-9516 [email protected]

DEEDEE CURRIER, Clerk ..........................(952) 882-7746 [email protected]

ABIGAIL ALT, Treasurer ............................(952) 898-0243 [email protected]

RON HILL, Director ...................................(952) 440-1016 [email protected]

DAN LUTH, Director .................................(952) 440-1290 [email protected]

SANDRA SWEEP, Director .......................(952) 250-7097 [email protected]

BEN DAVIDSON, Student Advisor

Joe Gothard, Superintendent ..............(952) 707-2001 [email protected]

School District 191 does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, disabil-ity, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation, age, family care leave status or veteran status.

A B O U T T H I S N E W S L E T T E RThis newsletter is sent periodically to all residents in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 to provide information about schools, which are a cor-nerstone of the community. If you have comments, send them to Ruth Dunn, district communications director, at [email protected] or call 952-707-2020.

C O N N E C T W I T H U SBurnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 strives to keep residents informed and involved in their public schools. Check out the district’s TV channel 18 to see programs like “Superintendent’s Spotlight” and other news and information.

To get news, pictures, events and more delivered to you where you want them, “Like” us on Facebook, or/and follow us on Twitter.

Residents may also sign up for the District 191 e-Newsletter.

D I S T R I C T C O N TA C T I N F OPhone: 952-707-2000 Web: E-mail: inf[email protected] Welcome Center (Enrollment): 952-707-4180

Boutique & bake sale is Nov. 20The Burnsville Senior Center Annual Boutique and Bake Sale is Thursday, Nov. 20 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Diamondhead Education Center, 200 W. Burnsville Pkwy. Homemade baked goods, crafts and holiday gift items will be available for purchase. Contact Michele Starkey at (952) 707-4120 for table or space rental.

‘Contents’ series continuesDistrict 191 Community Education’s “Contents” series continues this year with a focus on storytell-ing – its value, impact and different methods for spinning a good yarn. The first event in the series, “Filmakers as World Makers” is set for Nov. 11 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Campus Cup in Diamondhead Education Center. Participants will view clips from the film “Sweet Land” and discuss how the insight-ful story is told and made even more powerful through music, framing and perspective. To learn more, go online to or call (952) 707-4150.

Like to plan ahead? The academic calendar for the 2015-16 school year has been finalized by the District 191 Board of Education. It can be viewed at It show start dates, days when there is no school for students, and other important dates.

Students shop with cops for school suppliesThanks to a partnership with the Burnsville Police

Department and a grant from the Walmart Foundation, 20 students in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 received $100 gift cards and shopped for school supplies with help from police officers in August.

“This was a great way to start the school year,” said Superintendent Joe Gothard, “and certainly a message to students that the community values their education and supports their success.”

The Shop With A Cop event included officers from the Burnsville, Eagan and Savage Police Departments and the Minnesota Highway Patrol. Danielle Larson of Walmart and Burnsville Police officer Justina Bird initiated the project, and Allen Lentsch, CEO of Northland Auto Enterprises, donated to support it..

Leaders, athletes, champions join BHS Hall of Fame The new inductees into Burnsville

High School’s Hall of Fame represent the tremendous breadth of success achieved by members of the school’s community both at the school and beyond.

New inductees are graduates Jim Banke, Janet Barker Cain, James Campbell, Denise Johnson Hennen and Lance Werness, retired teacher/coach Neal Jeppson, and the 1972

Minnesota state champion football team. They will join 60 previously inducted honorees.

“The Hall of Fame honorees serve as an example of the quality education that BHS provides and has fostered over the years and as role models for current students and staff to achieve their own success,” according to Dave Helke, principal.

About 200 students and staff members grabbed shovels, picked up paint brushes and pulled weeds as they participated in Burnsville High School’s first annual Green Apple Day of Service, a national event with schools focusing on local service projects Sept. 27.

“It is amazing what 200 people can accomplish in four hours,” said Associate Principal Chris Bellmont. “Everyone was working hard and the results are amazing.”

BHS students and staff members focused on four main projects:

• General cleanup, mulching and maintenance of the school grounds.

• Giving garden, located on the west side of the school, will be transformed into a permanent fixture on the campus.

• Clean Air Awareness with students in automotive classes doing free clean air inspections of vehicles.

• School rock with students installing and decorating a huge boulder, donated by Rock Hard Landscape Supply, as a new campus landmark.

More information about Green Apple Day of Service is available at

Burnsville Police Officer Justina Bird assisted a student in selecting school supplies.

Students trimmed bushes as part of a community service day at Burnsville High School.

Scan for more details about this year’s BHS Hall of Fame inductees.

Burnsville High School students improve school grounds on national day of service

Harriet Bishop Service Club earns grant to expand conceptIt’s one thing to reach out and help those around

you. It’s another to organize those around you to help even more people. But Shrey Pothini, a fifth grader at Harriet Bishop Elementary School in Savage, has gone one step further.

The founder of the Harriet Bishop Community Service Club, which has been highly successful both in terms of the work it’s done and the number of students who have contributed, Shrey committed last year to expanding the club to the other nine elementary schools in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191. With some writing help from his mom, Seema Pothini, he recently received a $25,000 grant from State Farm to accomplish just that.

“As soon as I started the club at Harriet Bishop, I hoped other schools would start clubs, too,” Shrey said. “It’s something I want to see happen because I believe

everybody in the elementary schools can make the world a better place and students shouldn’t have to wait for junior high or high school to do service,” he said.

Shrey Pothini receives a $25,000 grant.

Page 4: District 191 Newsletter Fall 2014



100 River Ridge Ct. Burnsville, MN 55337

In this issue: Vision One91 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 1

#burnsvillestrong. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 1

New music classes draw a crowd . . . Page 2

Grant helps service club grow. . . . . . Page 3

Hall of Fame Class of 2014 . . . . . . . . . Page 3

Your Schools Your CommunityBurnsville High School students will present the

Mel Brooks comedy musical “Young Frankenstein” on the school’s Mraz Center stage starting Nov. 13.

Adapted from the classic movie, “Young Franken-stein” follows Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of the infamous Victor Frankenstein, as he inherits his family’s estate in Transylvania.

Lucas Heyne is Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein with Mark Fitterer as the Monster, Nathaniel Dutcher is Igor, and Kallie Lyon is Inga. Other actors are Mary Knutson, Tessa Nania, Matt Loyd, Toby Johnson and Bryan Santos-Miya. About 25 other students are involved in the chorus. Randy Day is direction and Madeline Thomas is stage manager.

“Young Frankenstein” is recommended for ages 12 and older. Performances are Nov. 13-15 and Nov. 20-22 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 16 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, and $8 for students. They can be reserved at

Personal stories shaped Vision One91 plan for the future

Joe Gothard

Superintendent’s Column

Students, parents, staff and community members have shared their ideas with me over the past year about opportunities and challenges we face in our schools. I appreciate their openness, excitement and honesty and their commitment to this school district and the success of all students.

Their stories have shaped Vision One91, our plan for the future focused on the district’s mission of Each Student Real-World Ready.

For example, students and staff members shared concerns about the lack of technology in classrooms – at all grade levels – to support teaching and learning in the 21st century.

Parents of preschoolers want expanded programming because it’s becoming increasingly clear that early learning is vital and provides the foundation for future academic success.

Parents of elementary students said the addition of full-day kindergarten for all students is great, but it has

made their schools more crowded as has the removal of aging portable classrooms from several schools. Another factor is that the Board of Education has placed a priority on keeping class sizes low in the elementary schools, which has been wonderful but also means that more classrooms are needed.

Parents of students in the middle grades want more opportunities for their children to explore interests by taking a wider variety of classes, which would only be possible if we changed to a seven-period day.

Students agreed that most junior high students don’t realize that 9th grade really counts. The reality is that 9th grade academic performance matters for graduation and is a critical part of any post-secondary education application. Moving 9th graders to Burnsville High School could benefit our students.

Then I heard from a 10th grade student who wanted to take an advanced math class, but could not because it was only offered at the senior campus (which is at Diamondhead Education Center, just over a mile from the

main high school campus). He had no way to get there and would miss too much of his other classes even if he did.

Scheduling issues like his, and others I’ve heard about -- would not be an issue if all 9-12 grade students were in the same building. Creation of a comprehensive four-year high school would increase access to honors, rigorous college-level courses and electives. It would also expand opportunities for extracurricular activities and athletics.

Because of these stories and others like them, Vision One91 calls for grade re-alignment to create elementary schools with K-5, middle schools with 6-8 and a comprehensive four-year high school with grades 9-12. It calls for increased classroom technology that is part of everyday instruction, more early learning opportunities and improved school security systems. These changes expand opportunities for students, acknowledge the rigor needed in today’s high schools and provide a more secure learning environment. The change also aligns with current best practices, state standards and most high schools in the metro area.

Most of all, we will be redesigning our district to better meet the needs of today’s learners. To achieve Vision One91 will require community support, so please learn more about it at or contact me. My door is always open.

BHS Theater presents ‘Young Frankenstein’

We will be redesigning our district to better meet the needs

of today’s learners.

Are you new to the district? Enrollment for all new students takes place online at or at the district’s Welcome Center, lower level, of Diamondhead Education Center, 200 W. Burnsville Parkway. For more information, call the Welcome Center at (952) 707-4180 or email at [email protected].

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