MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail - 6-14-18

From the office of the commissioner

Weekly Briefing for Superintendents and School Leaders

June 14, 2018

In this edition


Reminder to Update and Certify District, Schools and Contact Information for the FY19 School Year

Each year, information regarding schools and districts is updated in the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) master database for organizations which validates sites for all major MDE reporting systems such as MARSS, STAR, UFARS, assessments, etc. In previous years we asked you to formally identify a single point person as the site verification coordinator for your district. This person has access to request and certify school configuration changes and update other essential contact information for all sites within the district through a secure website. The list of site verification coordinators by district is available in the MDE Organization Reference Glossary in Contact Lists.

As explained in the site verification memorandum, the District and School Site Verification system is an easy to use review system that remains open all year for any changes. The system is a one-stop shop for contacts in your district such as the Identified Official with Authority, District Assessment Coordinator, superintendent, principals, communications/media contact, etc. Some contacts such as the MARSS or STAR coordinator are brought in directly from security access accounts. For all contacts at the district including superintendent, executive director or business manager, it is critical to have the district/school staff contact list current to make sure the right staff are contacted for a number of MDE initiatives.

We ask that you review your district and school sites, along with the contacts you can update and make changes for the FY19 school year. To ensure data collections, payments, and reports are correct, district and school site information and contacts for the FY19 school year must be reviewed and certified by August 31, 2018.

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Open Enrollment Forms Revised

Statewide enrollment options, informally known as open enrollment, is Minnesota’s public school choice option that allows students and parents to have access to schools that are not within their resident district. This program allows student enrollment from one school district into another. The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has updated the open enrollment forms posted on the MDE website to now include two separate open enrollment forms. One open enrollment form is for voluntary prekindergarten and school readiness plus programs, which are not available in every school district. The second open enrollment form is for early childhood special education and grades K-12. Please have parents use these forms when they are open-enrolling their child into those programs. In addition, the statewide enrollment options instructions provide guidance in completing either open enrollment form. For more information about statewide enrollment options, including instructions and forms, please visit the MDE Open Enrollment webpage

For questions about statewide enrollment options, please contact Cindy Jackson at 651-582-8572.

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Grow Your Own Grants for Fiscal Year 2019

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has funding available under Minnesota Laws 2017, 1st Special Session, Chapter 5, Article 2, Sec. 57, Subd. 23. to:

Pathway I
Provide grants to school districts with more than 30 percent minority students to pay for tuition scholarships or stipends to school district employees or community members affiliated with a school district for nonconventional teacher residency pilot program approved by the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) as established under Minnesota Statutes, section 122A.09, subdivision 10, paragraph (a); and

Pathway II
Allow school districts and charter schools grants to develop innovative Grow Your Own programs that encourage secondary school students to pursue teaching, including developing and offering dual-credit post-secondary course options in schools for introduction to teaching or introduction to education courses consistent with Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.09, subdivision 10.

NOTE: Each pathway will be judged and scored independently of one another. Grants will be awarded as a single amount, but each pathway will be tracked separately.

Application information is available on MDE’s Grant Opportunity webpage.

Grant periods will be from August 24, 2018, to June 30, 2019.

Eligible applicants are any public school districts or charter schools with more than 30 percent minority students.

Applications must be submitted, via email, no later than July 20, 2018, 3:30 p.m. CDT to the designated email box at Please see the instruction document for further submission information.

Contact Elia Dimayuga-Bruggeman at 651-582-8440 for further information.

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School Safety Grants

The 2018 bonding bill included $25 million from general funds for school safety grants for improvements related to violence prevention and facility security. Interested school districts, charter schools, intermediates, and cooperatives must submit separate applications for each school site for grants of up to $500,000 each. The funds may be used to predesign, design, construct, furnish, and equip school facilities and includes renovating and expanding existing buildings. The grants must be used to complete projects that do not currently have funding. The grants are funded on a reimbursement basis, and all reimbursable expenses must be incurred after the grant is awarded and the agreement is fully executed. No money can be distributed to the recipient until they have received bids on 100 percent of the project and sufficient documentation has been provided to the commissioner that the project can be fully completed with the money available.

At least half of the grants must be awarded to applicants with administrative offices located outside of the 11 county metro area. The grants will be awarded based on meeting criteria to be set by the commissioner, in collaboration with the School Safety Center at the Department of Public Safety, and on a first-come, first-serve basis. It is strongly recommended to submit your applications on the first day applications are accepted. The application process will be done on an online system.

The projected timeline for the applications and awards are as follows:

July 16: MDE will distribute the application materials and FAQ to go out to all school districts, charter schools, intermediates, and cooperatives.

Late July-Early August: MDE will host a webinar to provide information responsive to inquiries and walk through the online application system.

August 29: MDE will begin accepting applications through the online system.

September 28: MDE will announce the awards.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact

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AmeriCorps Promise Fellows: Engaging and Supporting Struggling Students

AmeriCorps Promise Fellows are a powerful asset to Minnesota schools, working to engage students in school and set them on a trajectory for high school graduation and lifelong success. Each year, over 200 Promise Fellows commit to an 11 month term of service at school or community-based organizations, and support students in grades 6-12 who are showing early warning signs of dropping out of school –– low attendance, disengagement from school and learning, and struggling performance in core academic areas. Committed to providing the right supports to the right youth at the right time, Promise Fellows employ three core evidence-based intervention strategies –– service and service-learning, caring adults, and out-of-school supports. The program is life changing for our state's youth. Last year, 87 percent of students served by Promise Fellows improved their academic engagement.

Minnesota Department of Education will host an informational webinar for school and district leaders interested in learning more about AmeriCorps Promise Fellows. Please see the following information on date, time, and login.

Topic: AmeriCorps Promise Fellows: Engaging and Supporting Struggling Students
Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Time: 11-11:30 a.m., CDT

To join the training session: 

  1. Go to
  2. Enter your name and email address. 
  3. This session does not require a password.
  4. Click "Join Now.” 
  5. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen. 

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