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December 2020

The Henton Headlines: December 17, 2020

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

Listen today: have questions regarding the updated Safe Learning Plan?

MDE is offering a webinar today, December 17, at 4:00 pm. Hopefully, the many questions you have will be answered during that time. If not, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I have been in contact with Dr. Mueller and will continue to share your concerns and questions. Here is the information on the webinar:

Stream the webinar live on Thursday, December 17, from 4-5 p.m., on the Minnesota Department of Health’s YouTube channel (

This is our ONE pandemic!

I have taken on this mantra. The vaccine is on its way and I believe all the learning we have gone through this past year will enable us to keep others at bay.

We will get through this together. Hang in there. Keep networking. Help keep hope alive. We’ve got this. Leadership matters and our school leaders are exceptional!

Henton Headlines:

There will be a pause for the next two weeks and the headlines will return the first week of January 2021. Happy holidays!

Leadership Matters: 

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose." - Theodor Seuss Geisel

The Henton Headlines: December 10, 2020

December 10, 2020
Here’s the scoop for the week…

Is your contract expiring June 30, 2021?

Superintendents who want to remain in the same position and have a contract expiring at the end of June should have a conversation with their board chair about starting the renewal process.   MN statute allows school districts to approve another contract during the final 12 months of the previous contract, so now is that time to get it done!

Second meeting of the Learning Model Transition Group

The group met on December 9 under the leadership of Deputy Superintendent Heather Mueller. Information was shared primarily by MDH and summarized in the bullets that follow:

  • The original case county data they used to drive the school learning model and create the Safe Learning Plan guidance was the best tool at the time, based on the best data they had. They have learned a lot since then. 
  • They did see a relationship between the ability to staff schools effectively and when case count numbers per 10k went above 50.
  • Transmission is happening in communities more than schools, but as background transmission increases it influences schools. We need to be operationally safe and be sure schools don’t cause harm to other agencies. For example, causing more cases where patients must go to the hospital creating a shortage in hospital beds.

The next meeting is on Wednesday, December 16 and will focus more on possible changes in criteria and reentry plans.

Feel free to contact the superintendent representatives listed below, Scott Croonquist, or me with your thoughts on the return to school and learning model transitions:

Region 1: Jeff Elstad (

Region 3: Sherri Broderius (

Region 5: Laine Larson (

Region 7: Matt Grose (

Region 9: Cory McIntyre (

Region 9: Sandra Lewandowski (

Region 9: Theresa Battle (

Region 9: Jeff Ronnenberg (

MASA Board of Directors makes a decision about MSHSL constitutional amendment process

MASA continues to appreciate its partnership with the MSHSL, and agrees that having permanent superintendent representation, like that from other state organizations on the MSHSL Board would be beneficial to both organizations.  To that end, MASA will work with the Minnesota Legislature to modify language in the current statute to secure two permanent seats for Minnesota Superintendents. The MASA Board of Directors has decided not to attempt to amend the MSHSL constitution as the process for doing so is the same process that was attempted by MASA in 2015-16 and failed. 

Days at the Capitol

House Speaker Melissa Hortman confirmed during the evening of December 8 that House staff are to continue to work from home if they can do so, “ least through May 31, 2021 and House space will be closed to the general public.” MASA lobbyist Valerie Dosland and I will be determining in initial meetings with legislative committee chairs how we should conduct our typical Days at the Capitol during this year. Stay tuned...

Spring Conference format

Given the uncertainty of our times, MASA will hold its annual Spring Conference scheduled for March 11-12 virtually.  Look for more information in the coming months. 

Do your students who were laid off due to COVID-19 know they qualify for federal unemployment benefits?

A new court decision finds that MN high school students who lost their jobs due to COVID 19 are eligible for federal unemployment compensation provided through the CARES ACT. Students must apply by December 25. This can mean thousands of dollars for individual students.  Here is an article from the StarTribune, explaining this decision. Instructions for what students must do to apply are linked here.   Notifying students would be a valuable service to them and their families.

Request for your help with a brief survey you received from Katie Pekel

The University of Minnesota and MDE are working together to produce some research-based information paired with practical ideas surrounding the diversification of our educator workforce. Part of that work involves hearing from you. While you may have already received an email from Dr. Katie Pekel asking you to complete a short survey, I would ask if you have not already done so, to please take the brief 5 minutes to do so now. Diversification of the workforce was a theme from the MASA focus groups, and we want to provide our ideas and voice into the work Katie and her colleagues at the U of M and MDE are trying to do in service to Minnesota. 

Thank you! 

Survey Link:

Leadership Matters

"The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers."  

                                                                                        -Ralph Nadar


The Henton Headlines: December 3, 2020

December 3, 2020
Here’s the scoop for the week…

First meeting of the Learning Model Transition Group

On November 30, Deputy Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller convened the group that included eight superintendents, representatives from MDH, Regional Support Teams, local health officials, school nurses, and MDE. The superintendents met prior to the first session with the executive directors of AMSD and MASA and framed return to school issues they later presented to Dr. Mueller and the group during the meeting. The superintendents conveyed a sense of urgency for return to school information to be shared with superintendents/school leaders across the state.  Consequently, Dr. Mueller agreed to move from a bi-monthly meeting schedule to weekly meetings with the next session scheduled for December 9. The first meeting was introductory in nature.

Following the first meeting the superintendent representatives met again with the executive directors and identified specific questions that will be presented to Dr. Mueller prior to the meeting so she has time to prepare and hopefully by doing so the group will see expedited results. It is clear that superintendents/school leaders across the state want answers soon.

Feel free to contact the superintendent representatives listed below, or me with your thoughts on the return to school and learning model transitions:

Region 1: Jeff Elstad    

Region 3: Sherri Broderius 

Region 5: Laine Larson 

Region 7: Matt Grose 

Region 9: Cory McIntyre

Region 9: Sandra Lewandowski

Region 9: Theresa Battle

Region 9: Jeff Ronnenberg

MSHSL & MASA Executive Officers Discuss Process for Permanent Superintendent Representation on the MSHSL Board of Directors:

  • The ongoing discussion of the MSHSL and MASA Executive Officers has led to improved communication from the MSHSL to the superintendents.
  • A draft timeline and process for amending the MSHSL constitution to include permanent superintendent representation was provided to MASA by the MSHSL The Executive Boards of both the MSHSL and MASA will be presented with this information in the upcoming week.
  • Another meeting was set for December 10 to review comments from the respective boards on the MSHSL constitutional amendment process, the forthcoming MASA request to amend the MSHSL constitution to secure permanent superintendent representation, the constitutional amendment process timeline, and next steps.

Have you found the MASA Elf on the Shelf?

Hint: See Deb Larson’s 12/3 email - and in the eUpdate!

Screen Shot 2020-12-03 at 11.28.38 AM

Leadership Matters:

"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it." - Henry Ford