School Board approves 2020 Achievement and Integration Plan

Published 6:20 am Wednesday, February 12, 2020

At its Monday meeting, the Austin School Board approved the 2020 Achievement and Integration Plan.

Due to the demographics of the district, the state gives money to be used for integrating minority students.

Although there are not a lot of changes in the plan from previous years, Integration Coordinator Kristi Beckman said the district’s demographics continue to change.

“We feel that our plan is addressing our needs fairly well,” she said.

Populations that are moving to Austin include people from West Africa and Micronesia in the Pacifc, Beckman said.

Some programs funded through the plan include STEM activities that double as building relationships between students of different backgrounds and work being done to improve graduation rates through talent development programs and success coaches.

The success coaches serve as a bridge between the schools, students and families, Beckman said.

There are now 14 coaches working 40 hours a week as opposed to 9 coaches working 20 hours a week when the program started.

Other areas being worked on include working with teachers to improve their awareness of students’ cultures and integrating Sumner Elementary, which has demographics out of line with the rest of the district.

Unlike previous years, the Board did not approve the budget for the program because since part of it comes from the levy, Minnesota Department of Education considers the annual levy approval as the approval of this program’s budget, Executive Director of Educational Services John Alberts said.

Board Member Richard Lees asked if the state has increased funding or if the program is dependent on levy dollars.

Due to changes that made the funding tied to the percentage of students who are minorities, rather than the size of a district, Austin’s funding has increased from about $600,000 to $700,000.

The budget, about $1 million, is 70 percent state aid and 30 percent local levy, Beckman said.

“That’s increased quite a bit, hasn’t it?” Lees asked.

When Beckman started in 2010, the budget was about $500,000.

Superintendent David Krenz said the district cannot be too careful because there has been talk in the past of just having the state split the money across all districts as part of the general education formula.

The Board approved the plan unanimously.