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Chisago Lakes Schools

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January 18, 2022

11/26/2021 2:05:00 PM
Nearing year end, CL reports positive for district

The regularily scheduled school board meeting was a little light on attendance on Thursday, November 18. Superintendent Dean Jennissen was absent from the meeting, as was chairman Mark Leigh.

The meeting featured some updates from Community Education, Food Service, the Director of Curriculum and the Director of Business Services.

On the Community Education side of the district, director Michelle Kleist said that her programs were finally getting up and running to near pre-pandemic levels.

She said they’ve had many community education instructors wanting to return now that there are vaccinations and boosters available, and the Wildcat Community Center is back to its regular fitness center hours.

She said although yearly enrollments are down just a bit for the WCC, their Silver Sneakers program is way up and overall interest in the facility has been up.

Kid’s Club is at max capacity and had a waiting list of nearly 90 families, Kleist said. She said the district has space to house more children for Kid’s Club, but a lack of staff is keeping them from expanding the program any further. Board member Jeff Lindeman asked how many more staff members they would need, to accomodate those families. She didn’t have a specific answer, but when Lindeman suggested at least five, Kleist agreed. The district has been looking for help in the positions.

In food service, Director Laura Cierzan informed the district that as in many fields, it’s been challenging to keep supplies in the district.

She said that prices are fluctuating, and there’s been food supply companies that have just suddenly stopped providing services.

She also said deliveries haven’t been guaranteed and there’s been instances where  a delivery was supposed to be a certain food item and ended up being a different one, which necessitates last-second menu alterations. “We’re doing the best we can in the situations,” she said.

The Chisago Lakes custodial staff and district are getting closer to a resolution on their contract, according to board member and negotiating team member Dani Strenke.

The two sides entered mediation on Monday, November 8, with the custodial staff holding a union rally outside the offices prior to the meetings.

“It was productive. It was a lot of sharing details and asking a lot of questions,” Strenke said. “We scheduled another meeting, and the mediator is pretty confident that we can settle a contract by the end of that day. It might be a long day, but that’s what he’s thinking.”

The next mediation meeting is set for Tuesday, December 21.

Berg addressed negotiations between the district and CLEM and that it’s still moving forward, but they were going to have a meeting soon. “It would be a good idea to meet and come to an understanding of what finance dollars are available,” she said. Carlson added, “If we’re all going to negotiate, we need to be on the same playing field and understand what we have in terms of available dollars.”

Director of Technology Eric Simmons, who stood in for Jennissen during the Superintendent’s update, informed the board that the results of the employee levy survey were back. There were 176 responses, including 110 CLEM union members and 66 support staff employees. There are 498 staff members in the district.

The anonymous survey asked open ended questions on what issues were important to the staff in regards to levy dollar allocation. The most common responses, in order of frequency, according to Simmons, were staff salaries and benefits, smaller class sizes, technology, middle school and high school allied arts classes, and programming and scheduling.

Jennissen was to meet with consultant Peter Leatherman, who helped create the survey, to analyze the results and discuss the next steps in the levy process.

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