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At their meeting on June 28, the Cannon Falls School Board unanimously approved an achievement and integration plan that would partner their district with the Red Wing School District. 

Red Wing reached out to multiple districts in Goodhue County to partner with. Cannon Falls agreed Monday to create and develop a plan that would help students and faculty alike. 

Both districts were identified as racially isolated by the state of Minnesota. Being identified as a racially isolated school district, according to the Department of Education website is, “when the difference between a district’s percentage of enrolled protected students is more than 20% higher when compared with at least one of it’s adjoining districts, the district with the higher percentage is considered racially isolated.”

To be eligible for funding and create an achievement and integration plan, two districts that are adjacent to each other need to partner. 

Steven Strauss, the K-12 Associate Principal in Cannon Falls, presented the plan to the school board. 

In the plan, Strauss and other Cannon Falls colleagues have identified three goals:

  1. Decrease the percentage of free and reduced-priced meal eligible students, who are enrolled in Cannon Falls High School at least half-time, and are behind on total credits from 33% in May 2021 to 20% in May 2024. 

  2. The number of full-time racially diverse teachers in the school district will increase from zero at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year to two at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.

  3. On a five-point Likert scale survey, students will report an increase in their comfort level in discussing diversity with other students from the baseline average of 3.28 as collected in June of 2021 to an average of 3.8 by May of 2024. 

A breakdown of the goals

Strauss said there was a “big disparity in students who qualified for free and reduced-priced meals (FRP-eligible) and the rest of the student population. It was identified that 33% of the FRP-eligble students were behind in credits in May 2021. The entire student population was 10% behind on credits in May 2021. 

Consistent tutoring services from Cannon Falls honor society students and summer school will help the FRP-eligible student population, Strauss said. 

The second goal relates to a lack of diverse teachers in the district. Strauss said doing more college recruitment, encouraging soon-to-be graduated candidates to apply at Cannon Falls, will help increase their faculty. 

After a survey was sent out to students, Strauss said they scored favorably on a baseline average of 3.28 in regards to discussing diversity in the district. 

Strauss said establishing a diversity club, equity and leadership training with Red Wing students, family engagement nights and further classroom integration will help both student bodies become more comfortable discussing diversity in schools. 

Public comment and questions

There was only one resident who asked questions about the plan during the discussion process and also utilized the public comment period to talk further about the achievement and integration plan. 

Mainly, the questions pertained to the content that would be discussed and if there was anything formal for residents and the school board to see prior to it’s planning. Specifically, the diversity club and the leadership training. 

Strauss said they are still working to develop those specific plans, as they are working from creating these programs from scratch. 

The resident said the board should consider delaying the plan’s approval because the community is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and would give everyone more of a chance to respond. 

The board unanimously approved the plan—minus Katie Lochner who was absent from the meeting due to an illness—sending the plan to the state of Minnesota for final approval. 

The board will meet next on July 26. To view the plan and the board’s agenda, visit the district’s website.

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