Previous month:
August 2020
Next month:
October 2020

September 2020

The Henton Headlines: September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020
Here’s the scoop for the week…

We are not alone:

Generally, on Friday afternoons I meet with regional state executives of organizations similar to MASA.  Rob Monson, the Executive Director of the School Administrators of South Dakota shared the following commentary he posted to Facebook in support of superintendents/educators and given the positive response he received, later sent as a press release.  Take a moment to read at the link that follows. I think you will be glad you did!

Download Rob Monson Facebook post

Resource for additional COVID-19 case information for counties in Minnesota, any state in the nation and the USA overall:

Please see this link-

PELSB tips:

Dr. Steve Unowsky of Richfield Public Schools is the superintendent representative on PELSB. Given recent challenges school districts are experiencing finding licensed candidates, he offers this advice when submitting Tier 1 and Tier 2 license requests:

  • It is essential to identify why the licensed candidate was not selected. Upon review of Tier 1 and Tier 2 licensure applications, the decision of PELSB continually comes back to why the licensed candidate was not hired instead of all the attributes of the candidate/s you are trying to hire;
  • The lack of experience of the licensed candidate in answering interview questions is not considered an acceptable reason for not hiring that individual;
  • Clear and logical information in the application explaining why the licensed candidate is unacceptable is critical to gaining approval.

Dr. Unowsky generously offers his cell phone number, 612-419-1648, should you wish to consult with him before submitting a Tier 1 and/or Tier 2 request to PELSB.  There is also a PELSB Info Session on Sept. 25, from 2:30pm-3:30pm with an agenda item of, “Licensing and Renewal Tips.”  Go to PELSB website to register for the event if interested.

Have you had your flu shot?

Yes, and a friendly reminder for you and your staff to do the same! In the words of Valerie Truesdale of AASA, “Be well to lead well.”

Leadership matters:

“Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.”

Stephen Covey

In the spirit of Rob Monson’s post-Thank you for all that you are doing to provide a high quality education for Minnesota’s students!

The Henton Headlines: September 17, 2020

September 17, 2020
Here’s the scoop for the week…

The virus is spreading-please use caution:

Deputy Commissioner, Heather Mueller, asked me to send a reminder that due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, staff gatherings at restaurants and bars is not advisable at this time. Some of our colleagues have experienced this first hand with outbreaks in their school districts, or the need to quarantine staff, after social events at establishments. Gentle reminders to staff might be helpful as we move through the fall and into the winter flu season.

EdMN representatives added to weekly call with the Commissioner of MDE:

I was notified by MDE that representatives from EdMN have now been given access to the phone call the commissioner has on a weekly basis with superintendents. 

Minnesota High School League, MSHSL:

Questions and concerns have been expressed to me regarding the MSHSL fee increase, communication from the League, which funding stream to use to pay increased fees, the survey request, superintendent representation on the MSHSL Executive Board of Directors, and more. Here is information I hope you find useful:

  • The MSHSL is a non-profit voluntary organization in existence since 1916
  • The League is governed by a 20 member executive board created by statute and consists of the following representation
      • Four seats appointed by the Governor
      • Two representatives selected by the MN Association of Secondary School Principals, MASSP
      • 14 members selected in accordance with the League constitutional by-laws
        • Four designated school representatives elected from Class A Regions
        • Four designated school representatives elected from Class AA Regions
        • Two representatives selected by the MN School Boards Association, MSBA
        • Four activity representatives
          • 1 Boys’ Sports, 2 Girls’ Sports, 1 Music, 1 Speech
      • There is no dedicated seat for a superintendent representative to serve on the 20 member executive board
        • The most recent attempt by MASA membership to add a permanent seat for superintendents on the MSHSL Executive Board of Directors was in 2015-2016. The effort failed to meet the requirements of the MSHSL constitutional by-laws. That effort is under review by the MASA Executive Officers, the MSHSL Executive Director and me
      • There is also a 48 member Representative Assembly consisting of three members selected by each region
  • The League’s membership consists of school districts, home schools, non-publics, and charter schools. Half of the member schools have fewer than 250 students 
  • The discussion on fee increases has been ongoing with activities directors for the past three years and then accelerated following the shutdown of spring seasons that led to a dramatic loss of revenue 
    • The approval of the increased fees occurred at an August MSHSL Executive Board meeting that acted on recommendations from a finance sub-committee
    • The MSHSL has no guaranteed revenue stream and relies on tournament sponsorships, broadcast fees, ticket sales, and membership dues
  • Michael Dietrich of MDE has stated in emails to superintendents that ESSR funds using FIN 151 may be used to pay the MSHSL two installment bills for the 2020-21school year.  MDE is checking on the use of CRF for this purpose. Both installments to the MSHSL may be paid this year using the ESSR funding stream
  • The MSHSL is subject to the Open Meeting Law
  • The MSHSL is audited annually
  • The media typically attends all MSHSL meetings and delivers messages to the public often times before the League
  • The League communicates through activities directors

There has been frequent communication with Erich Martens regarding the concerns and questions expressed to me. I am gathering history on the failed attempt in 2015-2016 to add permanent seats on the MSHSL Executive Board for  superintendents. 

I will continue to seek improved communication from the League that includes superintendents, and keep you apprised of efforts to increase superintendent representation. In the meantime, should seats open up in your region for the greater 48 Representative Assembly, consider running for election.

In addition, in a meeting with the MASA Executive Officers yesterday, September 16, we agreed that in order to build superintendent voice, the MASA Executive Officers, the MSHSL Executive Director and MSHSL President, and I will begin meeting soon on a monthly basis.  MASA members will be asked ahead of the meetings for questions/concerns and those will be addressed in these meetings. Responses will be provided in return. This is a temporary measure until permanent representation is acquired.  

Finally, a deadline of June 30, 2021, was conveyed to Erich Martens for a MSHSL process to be developed which gives the superintendents a real opportunity to have permanent representation on the MSHSL Executive Board. The Amendment process for the MSHSL Constitution, used in the 2015-2016 effort by MASA, is not believed to be realistic by MASA leadership and we are seeking additional options to proceed forward.

Leadership matters:

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant.”

— Jim Rohn, Author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker

The Henton Headlines: September 10, 2020

September 10, 2020
Here’s the scoop for the week...

What I heard from members who had some form of school and/or professional development start this week:

  • It was good to have everyone come into school. It calmed everyone down.
  • We can really personalize our instruction because of the small class size.
  • Kids and staff doing well with masks.
  • Staffing is really a challenge with trying to support onsite, hybrid and distance learning formats. 
  • Not enough teachers for distance learning. Can’t find licensed teachers even with offering bonuses. 
  • Some parents who chose distance learning, now want onsite/hybrid learning once they learned how well onsite learning is going.
  • Anywhere from 6% to a high of 34% of a school district’s student population opting for distance learning where the districts are not completely in distance learning mode.
  • When staff were able to walk through all the new procedures put in place, that helped ease their concerns.
  • Our planning paid off. We were ready to go!

Town Hall with Governor Walz, First Lady Gwen Walz, and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan:

Thank you to all who attended the Town Hall on September 3rd.

We were pleased to partner with the Association of Metropolitan School Districts and we thank their Executive Director Scott Croonquist for initiating the event. We are also very grateful to Joe Gothard, Superintendent of the St. Paul Schools, for facilitating the event, and to Superintendents Theresa Battle (Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District), Jeff Elstad (Owatonna Public Schools), Laine Larson (Brainerd Public Schools), and Astein Osei (St. Louis Park Public Schools) for posing their thoughtful questions.

Of course, we are most grateful to Governor Walz, First Lady Gwen Walz, and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, for their leadership and willingness to have this important conversation at this very challenging time. We appreciate their perspective and attention to the needs of our students and communities as we enter this new school year.

If you were unable to attend the Town Hall, or if you would like to revisit it or share it with your teams, you can find a recording here:

This was a candid conversation, so this link is in the password-protected section of the MASA website. A reminder: Username: mnasa Password: 2020

Leadership matters:

“A well-educated mind will always have more questions than answers.”

-Helen Keller

The Henton Headlines: September 3, 2020

September 3, 2020
Here’s the scoop for the week...

What would I do with this Jamie Vollmer video titled “Schools Cannot Do it Alone?"

Jamie Vollmer, a champion of education, started a new video series, Schools Cannot Do It Alone and says the title speaks for itself. He suggests that the facilitators of the video series be superintendents and that the target audience is people in their communities. 

You can watch the first installment here:

If I were a leader in a school district, I would use this video for the annual fall meeting with the community to update/discuss the district’s World’s Best Workforce Plan. It provides historical context for all that public schools have been tasked to do since the early 1900s, the challenges faced and the need for trust and support from the community. The video would be a great conversation starter, is timely and engaging. 

Leadership matters:

During this Labor Day weekend...

Screen Shot 2020-09-03 at 11.55.36 AM