The MSBA Leader Newsletter: February 2024

The MSBA Leader Newsletter: February 2024

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MSBA Journal: Highlight Your Successful School Programs

Highlight your successful programs, teachers, and students in MSBA’s magazine

The May-June 2024 edition of the MSBA Journal magazine will focus on “What’s Right with Public Education.” Our Association is looking to highlight:

  • Public school programs that have seen success with students,
  • A public school student who has had success thanks to a class, a teacher, or co-curricular activity at public schools
  • A board or a district that made good strides in reading or math or in simply boosting attendance.

We want to hear your success stories, so please pass this along to all of your principals, student representatives, and teachers. Ask them to also pass along to students.

Write an article of up to 1,000 words, attach a photo (with a resolution of at least 300 DPI for print), and send to Bruce Lombard at The deadline is noon Monday, March 4, 2024.

If writing is not a strength (for students), students can also just send us a 1-minute or 2-minute video on your success story or a message about a teacher, staff person, or public school that has lifted students up and made students feel welcomed and successful.

New: MSBA Leader eBites

Understanding the impact of a 4% funding formula increase

By Tiffany Gustin, MSBA Associate Director of Management and Insurance Trust Services

There is a metaphor that states, “when eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” The laws, mandates, policies, procedures, and external variables involved with executing our mission to educate students create a really big elephant!

An eBite will provide a small bite that can be used as a talking point or conversation starter for school boards and administrative teams. Here is an eBite for you to chew on:

What does a 4% increase in the basic formula mean?
In 2023, the Legislature invested heavily in education, including approving an increase to the basic formula revenue of 4%, an increase from $6,863 to $7,138 per adjusted pupil unit. The per student basic formula amount is also used to calculate other general education components, so other revenues were also impacted.

How does this increase impact school districts?
School districts are not guaranteed a 4% increase in revenue. Statewide, school districts receive approximately 66% of their revenue from the state of Minnesota. Approximately 70%* of that revenue is from the basic formula.

Know your numbers.
How much did the increase in basic formula revenue generate for your school district?

* In July 2022, the Minnesota House of Representatives Department of Fiscal Analysis projected that basic revenue would make up 70.9% of general education revenue for FY2023.

Minnesota School Board Member Recognition Month

School board members talk about why they serve and superintendents show why strong school boards make for a stronger Minnesota.

Help MSBA celebrate the work of public school board members in February

In February 2024, MSBA is sponsoring Minnesota School Board Recognition Month to recognize school board members for their commitment to Minnesota’s public school students.

Visit the MSBA website to access materials for the 2024 Minnesota School Board Recognition Month.

We encourage superintendents and district staff to spread the word about the great work our public school board members are doing — through your local media and/or social media (tag MSBA in your posts and/or use the hashtag #CelebrateSchoolBoards).

MSBA Student School Board Member Scholarship

Encourage senior student board reps to apply for MSBA scholarship

Do you have a senior high school student serving on your school board as a student representative? If so, please encourage them to apply for the Robert E. Meeks MSBA Student School Board Member Scholarship in January 2024. Each spring, MSBA awards $3,000 scholarships to two Minnesota students. Please visit the MSBA website to access the scholarship application and additional information.


Get your legislative updates when the Friday Chat Room returns on February 16

The Friday Chat Room returns at 9 a.m. Friday, February 16. The Friday Chat Room — which one school board member called the “fastest half hour of the week” — offers MSBA members the opportunity to have an informal discussion with MSBA’s Government Relations team (Denise Dittrich and Kim Lewis) from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. each Friday during the legislative session. Denise and Kim will provide a legislative update, field members’ questions, and let you know what’s happening at the state Capitol in St. Paul.

New this year, the Friday Chat Room+ will make its debut from 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Friday, March 1. The Friday Chat Room+ is an extra session that will be more conversational for members on the first Friday of each month.

Advocate for public education at the Day at the Capitol; registration now open

Mark your calendar for Monday, March 18, 2024, for the MSBA/MASA Day at the Capitol. Members from MSBA and the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) will gather in St. Paul for networking and learning, and to hear from some of Minnesota’s education policy and finance decision-makers. Visit the MSBA website to access event registration and hotel information.

Stay informed with the latest MSBA and COSSBA Federal Advocacy Update

The MSBA and COSSBA Federal Advocacy Update provides timely news about current public education issues affecting Minnesota Schools. This first installment features updates on Congress, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application, Clean School Bus Funding, and the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Program. Click here to access the latest update. Look for the next update on Tuesday, February 6.

2024 MSBA Leadership Conference Awards

The 2024 MSBA All-State School Board is comprised of (clockwise from top left): Cheryl Polzin (Wayzata), Pat Medure (Grand Rapids-Bigfork), Cathy Nathan (Rochester), Wendy Felton (South St. Paul), Vicki White (Walker-Hackensack-Akeley), and Laura Oksnevad (St. Anthony-New Brighton).

Six board members named to 2024 MSBA All-State School Board

MSBA celebrated the work and dedication of public school board members during the Leadership Conference Recognition Luncheon on January 11, 2024, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The following school board members earned a place on the 2024 MSBA All-State School Board: Wendy Felton (South St. Paul), Pat Medure (Grand Rapids-Bigfork), Cathy Nathan (Rochester), Laura Oksnevad (St. Anthony-New Brighton), Cheryl Polzin (Wayzata), and Vicki White (Walker-Hackensack-Akeley).

Tyler Brekken (Win-E-Mac) earned the MSBA Rising Star Award, which is bestowed upon an up-and-coming board member serving in their first term.

The Minnesota School Board Directors of Color and Indigenous Fellowship gave out three awards: the Superintendent Lighthouse Award to Theresa Battle (Burnsville-Eagan-Savage), the School Board Member Lighthouse Award to Abdisalam Adam (Fridley), and the Marny Xiong Legacy Award to Rose Chu (Roseville Area).

Dean Peterson (Upsala Area) was recognized for 30 years of school board service and 16 other board members were honored for 20 years of board service. Visit the MSBA website to view the complete MSBA Honor Roll.

MSBA Board of Directors Elections

Six new board members elected to MSBA Board of Directors

During the 2024 MSBA Leadership Conference in Minneapolis, the following public school board members were elected by their peers on January 12, 2024, to serve on the MSBA Board of Directors.

  • MSBA Director District 3 (Southwest Minnesota) – Samantha Best, Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart
  • MSBA Director District 5 (North Metro) – Michelle Langenfeld, Anoka-Hennepin
  • MSBA Director District 6 (Northeast Metro) – Gail Theisen, Forest Lake Area
  • MSBA Director District 9 (East-Central Minnesota) – Heather Naegele, North Branch Area
  • MSBA Director District 12 (Northwest Minnesota) – Tyler Brekken, Win-E-Mac
  • MSBA Director District 13 (Southwest Metro) – Hunter Feldt, Watertown-Mayer

Also, Kristi Peterson (Shakopee) was introduced as MSBA President-Elect during the Closing Session of the Leadership Conference.

Elections and Referendums

State list shows 67 school districts can do board approval of operating levy renewals this year

By Greg Abbott, MSBA Director of Communications

An updated list from the Minnesota Department of Education shows a total of 67 school districts are eligible to do a board-approved renewal of their operating levies that are set to expire either this year or next year.

Under a law passed two years ago, it allows a school board to approve operating levies as long as the amount is the same and the length of time for the levy is the same. Board approval can only be given if the operating levy is expiring in the current year or the next fiscal year.

For fiscal year 2024, 13 districts had expiring levies. All of the boards approved the renewal.

For fiscal year 2025, 17 school districts have expiring levies. Five had board approvals, one had a voter-approved renewal, leaving 11 other districts that could do board approved renewals.

The list of districts for fiscal year 2026 has 50 school districts on the list. Three have already given board approval for the renewal.

For school districts wanting to do a board-approved renewal, MSBA has a resolution template available on its website at Resource Library/Elections/Forms and Resolutions. The procedure specifies that there be a board meeting to allow public testimony on the proposed renewal before it is approved. All resolutions must be approved by June 15, with a copy of the resolution sent to the state Department of Education and local county auditors no later than September 1.

The state list of school districts with expiring operating levies is also available on the MSBA website with the renewal resolution.

MSBA’s 2024 general election timeline and special election timeline now available

For school districts with bond or capital project levy special elections in 2024, the MSBA special election timelines for February, April, May, August, and November is available on the MSBA website at

MSBA’s general election timeline for 2024 school board elections is also available. If your district has any questions, contact MSBA’s Greg Abbott ( or Maria Shinabarger (

MSBA Workshops

Learning to Lead — School Board Basics: Phase I Workshop

Learning to Lead — School Board Basics: Phase I is for newly elected or appointed school board members (as well as a good refresher course for veteran board members). Phase I covers the role of the school board, the role of the superintendent, the leadership team relationship, and common scenarios facing new board members. Visit the MSBA website for more information. Please coordinate registration through your school district office.

Virtual workshop option: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, February 7, 2024 (late registration available)

Leadership Foundations — School Finance and Management: Phase II Workshop

Leadership Foundations — School Finance and Management: Phase II covers core topics such as the budget, school finance, local levies, policies, significant laws affecting school boards, collective bargaining, and personnel issues. Visit the MSBA website for more information. Please coordinate registration through your school district office.

Two-part virtual workshop option: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, February 8, 2024 (Part A) and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, February 15, 2024 (Part B) — late registration is still available

Officers’ Workshops for Board Chairs/Vice-Chairs, Clerks and Treasurers

The MSBA Officers’ Workshop for Board Chairs/Vice-Chairs, Clerks and Treasurers is focused on board officers’ responsibilities and basics/fundamentals of laws affecting school boards. Elected board officers, superintendents, staff who support the board, and all interested school board members are encouraged to attend. Visit the MSBA website for more information. Please coordinate registration through your school district office.

Upcoming virtual sessions — choose one session from Part A and one session from Part B:

  • Part A: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, February 28, 2024
  • Part A: 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, February 29, 2024
  • Part B: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, 2024
  • Part B: 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, March 7, 2024

Upcoming in-person session:

  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 9, 2024, at the Holiday Inn & Suites St. Cloud, 75 South 37th Avenue, St. Cloud, MN 56301

Registration closes February 19 for the virtual sessions and February 29 for the in-person session.

MSBA Webinars

“Alphabet Soup: ULA, ESST, and Other FAQs” set for 1 p.m. Thursday, February 15

MSBA staff will present on a variety of human resources topics during their “Alphabet Soup: ULA, ESST, and Other FAQs” webinar on Thursday, February 15. Hear important reminders, answers to common questions, and where to find useful resources.

The Third Thursday Webinar Series is sponsored by Ehlers, Eide Bailly, InGensa, Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, and Sourcewell, and Widseth.

Coffee & Conversation: 8 a.m. Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The virtual Coffee & Conversation meetings are led by MSBA Executive Director Kirk Schneidawind and MSBA staff. Network with your school board colleagues during this series. The next Coffee & Conversation meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Tuesday, February 6. School board members, look for an email invitation in your inbox on January 15. The Coffee & Conversation series is sponsored by PFM Asset Management.

Board Chair Chat: 8 a.m. Wednesday, February 7, 2024

The Board Chair Chat conversations center around the board chair’s roles and responsibilities. While focusing on the board chair. The next Board Chair Chat meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday, February 7. School board chairs, look for an email invitation in your inbox on January 2.

MSBAIT Matters

Be on your guard for slips and falls all winter long

By SFM Mutual Insurance
SFM is a Participating Insurer in the MSBAIT Risk Protection Program.

We “Midwesterners” often don’t have the luxury of staying inside when the temperature drops below zero or there’s a foot of fresh-fallen snow on the ground – and school district employees are typically no different.

It’s easy to get into a routine – bundle up in your parka, boots, hat, gloves, and scarf – before heading out the door. This routine may protect you from the wind chill, but don’t get too comfortable. With the increased risk of slips and falls throughout the entire winter, you need to stay on your guard every time you step outside.

In particular, snow and ice in school district parking lots, on driveways and sidewalks, and from melt in entryways and hallways, can cause severe injuries at any time throughout our long “winter” season – which we know certainly includes all of this current month of February, most of March, and sometimes (it seems) even April.

Unfortunately, each year, hundreds of claims from school districts and their workers are reported to SFM due to slipping and falling because of snow and ice. Statistically, it’s one of the most common causes of injuries.

Click here to read the remainder of this article.

Understanding an experience modification factor and its impact on your district

By Marsh McLennan
Marsh McLennan is a Participating Insurer in the MSBAIT Risk Protection Program.

Your school’s experience modification rating (EMR) needs to be checked periodically. The EMR is the indicator of your costs for work injuries, and it may be higher than you want. By taking steps to reduce injuries and their costs, you can lower your EMR, which can directly impact your workers’ compensation premium and your bottom line.

What is an Experience Modification Rating (EMR)?
A rate used by insurance companies that takes into consideration the employer’s size (determined by payroll), past loss experience (typically three years of loss data) based on industry (utilizing class codes) to understand the risk of the company. This rate helps assess how much premium should be tied into the risk. The lower the EMR, the lower the insurance premium will be. 

Click here to read the remainder of this article.

School Risk Management Forum set for February 29 in Golden Valley

The Minnesota School Boards Association Insurance Trust is proud to be partnering with Marsh McLennan Agency and MSBA to offer a School Risk Management Forum on Thursday, February 29, 2024.

Sessions will include:

  • Worker’s Compensation 101
  • Mental Health First Aid
  • Managing Special Education and Behavioral Issues
  • Top Challenges and Emerging Risks (Discussion and Q&A)
  • Comprehensive Approach to School Safety and Emergency Management
  • EdTech Evolution and the Importance of Specialized Cyber Insurance Protection
  • Data Practices and Data Management

Who should attend?

  • Superintendents
  • School business and human resource officials
  • Building and department leaders

(A request for continuing education credits has been made to the Minnesota Board of School Administrators.)

What is the cost?

  • The event is free, and lunch will be provided.

The event will be held at the Marsh McLennan Agency, located at 6160 Golden Hills Drive in Golden Valley. Click here to register. If you have questions, contact Tiffany Gustin at or 507-934-8131.

Consortium of State School Boards Association (COSSBA)

2024 COSSBA Conference set for February 22-25 in Dallas; register for conference, reserve hotel room

Registration is open for the 2024 Consortium of State School Boards Associations (COSSBA) Annual Conference. The conference will be held February 22-25, 2024, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Visit the COSSBA website to access conference registration and to book your hotel accommodations.

Watch recording of COSSBA’s “Empowering Students Through Literacy” webinar

A recording of the fourth installment of the COSSBA Urban Boards Alliance Webinar Series, “Unlocking Knowledge: Empowering Students Through Literacy” is now available to on the COSSBA website.

Other Workshops and Events

Minnesota Department of Health seeks input on e-cigarette settlement

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) invites board members and school officials to provide feedback on the use of Minnesota’s Juul settlement funds for youth e-cigarette prevention and cessation by participating in an online input survey or virtual/in-person input sessions. Feedback gathered through this process will help guide the development of funding opportunities and other initiatives aimed at decreasing the harm from e-cigarettes on Minnesota youth. Visit the MDH website to access the online input survey, the virtual/in-person input session, and for complete information about the settlement.

Open for public comment: Minnesota’s Computer Science Strategic Plan

Minnesota’s Computer Science (CS) Working Group has been meeting regularly since October 2023, and has made important progress toward developing a state strategic plan for long-term and sustained growth of computer science education across all public K-12 and charter schools in Minnesota.

The CS Working Group has identified key priority areas and generated recommendations for the state’s next steps for CS education. The plan is now available for public review and comment through February 16, 2024. The finalized plan will be presented to the Minnesota Legislature by March 22, 2024.

Visit the MDE website to learn how to provide comments on the plan.

After-School Community Learning grant (ACLG) application is available

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) recently announced that the application for the After-School Community Learning grant application is available. The purpose of the funding is to connect schools and communities so that they can offer culturally affirming and enriching after-school and summer learning programs that meet the needs of young people and their families. Visit the MDE website for details.

BoardBook: Simplify preparation and improve efficiencies for board meetings

Webinars: February 8, February 13, February 19, and February 27, 2024

Join BoardBook for a live 30-minute informational webinar to learn how to reduce the time, money, and stress associated with board meeting preparation. Visit the BoardBook website to sign up for a free webinar. BoardBook is an MSBA-endorsed product.

The Briefings: A National Safety Symposium

Tuesday, April 16, and Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The “I Love Guys” Foundation is partnering with the Minnesota School Safety Center on The Briefings: A National School Safety Symposium. This event is scheduled for April 16 and April 17, 2024, at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Visit for more information and to access registration.

Discounted tickets are available for local government officials at Twins game on June 15

1:10 p.m. Saturday, June 15, 2024, at Target Field

Join your colleagues at the June 15 Twins game against the Oakland Athletics where all locally elected government officials and their administrative staff will be celebrated to appreciate the leadership they provide for their Minnesota communities. Come out for a fun Saturday afternoon at Target Field to thank you for building stronger communities and a stronger Minnesota.

Each purchase of a ticket enters you in for a chance to win select giveaway items, including: autographed baseball/bat, Twins-themed winter beanie(s), and Twins-themed bobblehead(s). The seats are blocked off for this group specifically, located in the Infield Box section down the first baseline at a discounted rate. Click here to purchase your tickets today.

MSHSL League Board approves several adjustments

Adding a third class to girls tennis, implementing a seeding process in state football, expanding seeding in state volleyball, and modifying the suspended game language in soccer were Fall Activity Advisory proposals approved by the Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors during its fourth scheduled in-person meeting of the school year on February 1, 2024. Visit the MSHSL website for details.

Action Network to Elevate Teaching (ANET) 2024 Launch Convening

Join Dr. Rose Wan-Mui Chu and the Elevate Teaching project team for the first event of 2024, where they will reconnect with the Action Network to Elevate Teaching (ANET) community. Virtual gatherings are scheduled for Monday, February 26, at two times: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visit the Elevate Teaching website for more information.

Job Openings

Visit the MSBA Job Openings webpage to access application information for these listings.

Superintendents and Executive Directors

  • Alden-Conger Public School District — Superintendent (Deadline: February 23, 2024)
  • East Grand Forks Public Schools — Superintendent (Deadline: February 19, 2024)
  • Kasson-Mantorville Schools — Superintendent (Deadline: February 5, 2024)
  • Minnesota Rural Education Association — Executive Director (Deadline: February 11, 2024)
  • Montevideo Public Schools — Superintendent (Deadline: March 8, 2024)
  • Robbinsdale Area Schools — Superintendent (Deadline: March 6, 2024)
  • Sartell-St. Stephen Public Schools — Superintendent (Deadline: February 13, 2024)
  • St. Charles Public Schools — Superintendent (Deadline: March 10, 2024)
  • St. Louis Park Public Schools — Superintendent (Deadline: February 7, 2024)


  • Bemidji Area Schools — Elementary School Principal (Deadline: February 21, 2024)
  • Edina Public Schools — Elementary School Principal – Two positions (Deadline: February 16, 2024)
  • St. Peter Public Schools — Elementary School Principal (Deadline: February 23, 2024)

Other Administrators

  • Edina Public Schools — Assistant Superintendent of School Excellence and Innovation (Deadline: March 7, 2024)
  • Edina Public Schools — Assistant Director of Finance (Deadline: Open until filled)
  • Elk River Area School District — Director of Special Services (Deadline: February 19, 2024)
  • Minneapolis Public Schools — Director of Compliance for Records Management (Application deadline: Open until filled)
  • Pipestone Area Schools — Director of Curriculum (Application deadline: Open until filled)

In Memory

  • Richard Kuball died January 27, 2024. Richard served as the superintendent for the Mapleton, Amboy-Good Thunder, and Minnesota Lake school districts (which subsequently became the Maple River School District) and also served as an administrative assistant for MSBA for seven years.

About the Leader Newsletter

The Leader Newsletter is published as a member service by the Minnesota School Boards Association, 1900 West Jefferson Avenue, St. Peter, MN 56082. The Leader is edited by Bruce Lombard (, the MSBA Associate Director of Communications.

The contents of this newsletter are provided for informational use only and are not to be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult your attorney.

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