Referendum focus of RC School Board meeting

By Amy Doeun

Rush City Schools Superintendent Teresa Dupre spoke about the upcoming vote for an operating referendum at the Aug. 17 School Board meeting.
“I was invited to attend the Rush City Youth Sports Club meeting as kind of a grass roots effort within the community to support the referendum,”she said.
Last year, in an effort to balance the budget, the school had not hired replacements for two teachers who were leaving. The previous year, they had not hired three teacher replacements.
The school is requesting $600,000 for the referendum. Dupre said at the meeting with the Youth Sports Club someone had asked why the referendum was needed if the budget was balanced. Dupre reminded the board that the reason the budget is balanced was due to “reductions.” A total of $443,000 in reductions is what balanced the budget.
“If you just look at reductions, that total was $443,000, so if you want to know what we will do with the money just look at the number.”
Dupre also reminded the board that those reductions have an impact on student enrollment.
“We are down about 40 students — that is a big deal,” she said. “You can see pretty clearly on one page why we need more than $600,000, but that is what we are asking for.”
Dupre spoke of an informational flier she had created to explain the need for the referendum to continue to maintain programming.
“With your support, we will have this available at the open house,” she told the board. “This is just information; this is not persuasion.”
Public information sessions are also planned at the September and October School Board meetings.
“And we are looking for other community organizations to help get the word out,” Dupre said.
The vote will be held Tuesday, Nov. 7 at the Rush City High School. There will also be a vote for three board positions. The board positions hold a term of 4 years.

Food4Kids backpack program
For some children in the Rush City community, the only time they can be assured of a solid meal is at school. That means weekends can be a pretty hungry time. Dupre said a recent survey in Chisago County asking how often residents worry about food showed the area has a “pretty high need.”
“In other areas of the county the response was about 1 percent of the time,” Dupre said. “But in our area, the results were 18 percent.”
The Food4Kids backpack program hopes to help solve this problem.
“Family Pathways will seed the program for $2,000, but the goal is for us to create a sustainable program,” Dupre said. “Family Pathways has helped figure out what items would go in the backpack and would provide meals for the weekend including snacks.”
Dupre said the idea is not to compete with the local food shelf. She is hoping this program will fill a need without drawing support away from other organizations. Anyone who would like to donate to the program should know $2.50 will provide a weekend of meals for one student; $100 will provide a year’s worth of meals for one student.

MCA data released
Principle Brent Stavig shared numbers comparing the percentage of students proficient in a given grade and subject at the meeting. Stavig said the schools lowest performing subject was math.
“That is one of the reasons that we are wanting to invest.” Dupre said. “This is an area where we just purchased new curriculum.”
Stavig said the MCA results showed Rush City students “blowing it out of the park” when it comes to science.
“We are above the state average in the majority of categories,” he said. “If you want to compare (our school) with area schools I highly recommend you do.”
Dupre said that has not been the case in past years.
“When you start looking at state wide averages, we are on the upward trend,” she said. “Many thanks to our teachers and their efforts, and I think our kids gave it a little extra effort this year.”

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