ALEXANDRIA — Going from pandemic to endemic, Alexandria Public Schools Superintendent Rick Sansted says he not only wants to communicate with parents, but also with the public.
Sansted shared information about “the state of the school district” at a listening and learning event on August 17 through the Alexandria Lake District Chamber of Commerce.
He not only provided information about the upcoming school year, but he also shared information about facilities, as well as safety and security.
The newest addition to Discovery Middle School, a 30,000 square foot addition, provides space for Alexandria Community Education’s youth and adult physical education and recreation program. Its opening is scheduled for November.
He said the new space offers the possibility of hosting larger sports tournaments for young people. Sansted said the district continues to have an extremely high number of middle school activities, as well as high school activities. And, from a room impact, the neighborhood will be able to host outdoor events, which brings money to the community through restaurants, hotels, etc.
The cost of this project is approximately $8 million.
Another facility update that Sansted talked about was the new addition to Woodland Elementary for the Early Education Center, which he said “looks really good” and is almost ready to go. This addition replaces the gymnasium space leased from Douglas County. The 9,539 square foot space was designed to meet the needs of students, parents and the community, Sansted said.
It provides additional activity space and provides space for two classrooms.
The activity space will house Shenanigans, an indoor play area for children. Shenanigans is currently housed at the Douglas County Service Center, but will be moving to the new Woodland space soon.
“The shenanigans have been a popular spot for our little folks in our community and have been used for many birthday parties,” Sansted said. “We’re excited for it to open here.”
Shifting gears, Sansted said with what happened with the school shooting in Texas last May, there’s been a lot of thinking about safety and security not just from a school district perspective, but also law enforcement.
During this summer, the district updated its software, which includes the ability for all staff to activate an emergency response when needed. And the district updated its resources, including updating the emergency response guide for principals and staff and creating maps for all schools and centers.
The school district and community partners, including law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services, participated in active aggressor training, which Sansted briefly discussed.
“It was great to be able to join in with everyone and be there together,” he said. “It’s been great to be able to partner with all these agencies and make sure we’re on the same page from a communication and planning standpoint and I really appreciate the relationships we have with these community partners.
At the state level, the district has 11 mandatory drills per school year, including five lockout and trespassing drills, five fire drills and one severe weather drill.
Sansted said once the school reopens, the district will continue to advise parents of safety measures and how they can speak with their children.
“I think it’s important for parents to be aware of the school’s plans so they can help answer questions,” Sansted said, noting that the school will also have staff members who can answer. questions students may have. “We want to make sure that parents have the opportunity to speak with their children if necessary if they have any concerns about some of the exercises and things that we do that are part of our world today.”
He shared some statistics from a survey completed by parents which indicated that 97.5% of parents said their child felt safe in school at the primary level and 87.9% said they felt safe at secondary level.
Registration, activities and more
Sansted said there had been talk of declining school enrollment across the country, but that was not happening in Alexandria.
Enrollment as of June 1, which marked the end of the 2021-22 school year, was 4,039. As of August 12, enrollment was 4,064, an increase of 25 students.
“It’s a good sign,” he said.
He also mentioned the number of students who registered for the fall activities. To date, there are nearly 400 students enrolled in all sports.
“Activities are a good thing. Data shows that kids who participate in activities do better in school, have higher GPAs, and learn to work in teams,” Sansted said. “We are super excited about these numbers as we return to our fall activities. Just really solid numbers across the board.
Exit interviews have begun for the Class of 2022, and Sansted said the district will continue to do them. Next spring, he said the district will seek community and business partners to volunteer to conduct exit interviews for those graduating in 2023.
“Students have an interview where they can demonstrate all their skills and mastery of the content,” he said, adding that the district had received positive feedback from seniors, saying it was good for them to reflect on what they have done and how they have invested in themselves during their time at Alexandria Area High School.
He also said it was great for the business community and business leaders and others to hear from students about the work they’ve done to prepare for the next step, whether it’s college, the military, or starting a career or job. .
During the 45-minute presentation, Sansted touched on a number of other topics and answered questions from people listening to the presentation live. The entire presentation, along with the slideshow, is available on the Alexandria Lake District Chamber of Commerce website. On the home page, go to the resources tab and click on event resources. The Listen and Learn events from July 28, 2020 are available to watch and listen.
The next listening and learning event will take place on Wednesday, August 31 from noon to 1 p.m. The speakers, Scott Chazdon, assessment and research specialist, and Jennifer Aranda, educator, both work at the University of Minnesota Extension. They will share the results of the Welcoming and Inclusive Community Assessment. This will also be posted on the Chamber’s website after the event.