Previous month:
July 2020
Next month:
September 2020

August 2020

The Henton Headlines: August 27, 2020

August 27, 2020
Here’s the scoop for the week...

What three superintendents shared about their opening of school in recent days:

  • “The kids did awesome! They wore masks as if they were born with them on!”
  • The weather was oppressive this week for kids wearing masks in school and on the bus ride home so we made the decision to let students out of school early-after 11:15am-just for this week and that decision was well received!
  • Kids came up to me in the cafeteria and told me they are so happy to be back in school!  

As with any school year, the start for these three superintendents included last minute issues that demanded increased flexibility and problem solving, yet the success their school districts experienced in the first few days during unprecedented, unpredictable and undesirable times is notable and to be celebrated. 

Kids are resilient. You know how to monitor and adjust. Kids will see you are leading and eagerly share with you their joy about returning to a place they dearly missed and where they want to be in the days and months ahead. 

Let the experience of these three superintendents inspire you to continue the extraordinary work you are doing to get ready for your students and staff. 

I hear the fatigue in your voices. I see it on your faces. Self-care is more important than ever. Consider doing this on Friday:

Dr. Dan Bittman, Superintendent of Elk River, shared the following with colleagues and has given me permission to include this activity in my Weekly eUpdate to you.

Friday Reflection

  1. What went well and why this week? (Identify 3-5 things!)
  2. What didn’t go well and why? (Limit yourself to 2 things!)
  3. What are 3 goals for next week?
  4. How will you get there?

Leadership matters:

From my vantage point I suggest the following:

  • Keep your regional/local networking meetings going well into the school year. They can be sources of great ideas and of great refuge. We need each other. Keep meeting.
  • Know your “why” as Simon Sinek advises. Be laser-focused on your purpose.
  • Find the opportunity every day to move, laugh and attend to self-care. Your leadership is needed.  If not you, who?
  • Mind your self-talk. Give yourself grace as you do with so many others.

Final suggestion

  • Provide your school boards points that would be very helpful for them to emphasize about the opening of school whenever they are in public, or in a meeting. Examples...We are ready. We are prepared. A personalized quality education will happen in our district during the 2020-2021 school year no matter which learning model is in place. We have pivoted before and will do it again. Staff have been included in plan development. Cleaning has, and will continue to take place daily. Kids are resilient...

The Henton Headlines: August 20, 2020

August 20, 2020
Here’s the scoop for the week…

IMPORTANT: Collaboration while developing opening of school plans & teacher union requests to negotiate

Some school districts are hearing from their teacher union representatives that teachers are not being included on the school opening planning teams, even when there have in fact been teachers involved in the planning all summer. This could be because the teacher representatives might not frequently share with their bargaining unit colleagues the details of how you are collaborating as a team. They simply might not remember to do so, or know this is good practice whenever serving in a representative role. Ask them to communicate regularly with their members, and communicate yourself in multiple ways about all the collaboration you are engaged in to create the best plans possible for opening the 2020-2021 school year.

If you haven’t included teachers in the planning it is highly recommended you do so now. Discuss their ideas/concerns, collaborate and try to reach cordial agreement through talking with one another rather than through negotiations. 

Some school districts are receiving requests from their teachers’ unions to negotiate around the opening of school plans in development. Sample MOUs have been received in school districts and language in the executive order concerning negotiations is being cited in emails to some superintendents. 

Review your contracts and any MOU you are presented with very carefully. Know what is a managerial right and what is an item to be negotiated. Do not hesitate to contact your legal counsel for advice. Also, MSBA has a model teacher contract for your reference that shows the articles and which items are to be negotiated. MASA works closely with MSBA on these types of matters and vice versa. Stay in touch with either of us if you have any questions. 

The MDE Safe Learning Plan, p. 8, #4, discusses how to determine the learning model to begin the school year.  School districts in making this determination are to use their “...incident command team or advisory council consisting of school board members, bargaining units, staff, students and families.”  Please note the membership of these teams and be as inclusive as possible. 

Tell your story of working on your opening of school plans with the school board, administration, teachers and representatives of all bargaining units, county and city staff, community groups, non-native English speaking groups, community groups with special interests, MDE/MDH staff, students, tribal councils, and others specific to your school district. It is your district’s story to tell. Students want to know. Staff want to know. Parents want to know. Communicate your incredible inclusive planning efforts.


During recent communication with House Education Policy Chair Cheryl Youakim and other education lobbyists and executive directors, the topics that follow were brought to Chair Youakim’s attention:

  1. The need to hold school districts harmless on each school district’s ADM from last school year to this coming school year
  2. Flexibility on the hiring of short-term substitutes 
  3. Flexibility on the required method and number of drills during the 2020-2021 school year
  4. Clarification on how school districts are able to code costs to special education transportation in order to meet maintenance of effort requirements

More specific items related to funding were set aside as Chair Youakim reminded the group that she leads the education policy committee. 

Leadership matters:  (For your teachers..that’s all of us, right?)

“I’m a star polisher”

It’s a very important job. If you want to know how important, just go out at night and look at the stars twinkling and sparkling.

You see, I’m a teacher. The stars are the children in my class.  My job is to take them-in whatever shape they come-and shine and buff them and then send them out to take their places as bright, twinkling beacons in the sky.

They come into my room in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they’re bent, tarnished, dirty, crinkly, or broken.  Some stars are cuddly and soft. Some are prickly and thorny.

As I buff and polish, I train and teach my little stars; I tell them that the world cannot do without them. I tell them they can do anything they set their minds to.  I tell them they can be the brightest, shiniest stars in the sky and the world will be a better place because of them.

The Henton Headlines: August 13, 2020

August 13, 2020
Here’s the scoop for the week…

Words from Governor Walz

The weekly call on August 13 with Commissioner Ricker opened with a surprise visitor-Governor Walz. The Governor expressed gratitude and support for education leaders and superintendents during this time. He stated that superintendents should let the state help in the difficult decisions and situations school districts are facing. Governor Walz was direct in saying that whether people agree or disagree, superintendents should say the Governor said we need to do this and we are doing it. He acknowledged there are no clear answers and that some want to have him make the decision about the opening of schools, and others want only local control. Governor Walz said, “...let’s just do the best we can.”  I know you will!

MDE releases guidance released for arts programs

On August 13, MDE provided the following link to guidance for arts programs along with other updated information to the planning guidance: Download 08.13.20 - Arts Education in the 2020-21 School Year Recommendations and Resources

Why another special session?

In order to extend his 30 day emergency executive powers, Governor Walz called the legislature back into session on August 12, stating, “As long as the COVID-19 pandemic poses a threat to Minnesotans, it is my duty to work to provide our state with the tools we need to fight this...The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and rapidly evolving, and we can't let our guard down.” Special sessions will need to be scheduled every 30 days if the Governor wishes to request an extension to his emergency powers. Both chambers must vote to end a peacetime emergency. The Senate passed a resolution to end the emergency and the House did not. The order stands.

A musical start to the school year?

Here is a musical twist on a favorite song you might want to share: 

MASA Foundation scholarships available!

This year the MASA Foundation will provide up to ten scholarships of $750 each to MASA members for professional development needs that their school districts could not otherwise provide. To apply for a grant that ranges from $500-$750, please email, or fax a one page summary of your request to the MASA office via fax, 651-645-7518. The Foundation committee will consider your request in a timely manner. 

CRF funds must be spent by December 31, 2020

School districts must either use the funds allocated to them through the CRF funding stream by December 31, 2020, or lose them. ESSR and GEERS funds may be used through September, 2022. The following two links may assist you in finding how much you may receive in CRF funds and how CARES/CRF funds may be used:

Download CARES-Act-Funds-in-Education-Andre-Prahl-and-Michael-Diedrich_done (1)

Download 08.11.20 - Allocation of CRF funds to Schools (5)

Leadership matters:

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be. —Rosalynn Carter

The Henton Headlines: August 6, 2020

August 6, 2020
Here’s the scoop for the week…

We Need to Continue Tapping!

In fiscal year 2019-20, the Board of School Administrators issued 479 administrative licenses. This was down from 606 in 2018-19. Your encouragement of capable staff to become administrators is necessary as we fill many open seats annually. Tap those shoulders!

Counting Every Person

The U.S. Census Bureau has announced all counting efforts will end one month earlier on September 30, 2020. An estimated 4 out of 10 households have yet to be counted. Population count and funding are linked and will affect allocations for the next 10 years. What can you do? Copy this link and paste in your upcoming communications reminding your stakeholders the importance of being counted

Reaction to Executive Order 20-82 & Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year

I attended a number of virtual meetings and answered many phone calls/emails since the release of these two important documents on July 30, 2020. What I heard about most often:

  • Social distance requirements in Scenario 2-Hybrid Learning
    • It is my observation that on p. 7 of the Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year social distancing of 6 feet is “required” at all times in buildings while on pps. 5 & 6 in the MDH 2020-2021 Planning Guide for Schools the language is more permissive using terms like “as much as possible,” “whenever possible,” and “if feasible.”
  • Transportation and Social Distancing
    • Challenging to meet guidelines for school districts with single routes
  • Staffing
  • Masks
    • How do we deal with student refusal to wear them

Leadership matters:“You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt