Superintendent Christopher’s Remarks at Conclusion of March 18 Board Meeting

The racially charged incidents that have recently surfaced in some of our schools has prompted me to reiterate what Eastern Carver County Schools stands for. We are a caring, compassionate school community that embraces diversity and inclusivity. We will not be defined or labeled by unacceptable incidents. Inappropriate, disrespectful behavior does not represent the hearts and minds of our school community. It will not be accepted in any of our schools. At Eastern Carver County Schools, it’s our priority that all of our students and families believe that we see them, value them and listen to their unique voices. We must listen better, understand more and create school environments that respect all backgrounds and beliefs. Our district is moving with a sense of urgency to ensure that diversity and equity are more than thoughts and concepts. It’s important to stress that equity is not another program or initiative. Equity is ensuring equal access to educational opportunities. This work... Continue reading Superintendent Christopher’s Remarks at Conclusion of March 18 Board Meeting

Growing Pains — and Opportunities

A message from the Superintendent Eastern Carver County Schools have been – and will continue to be – growing. We are honored that so many families choose our schools and want to live in our district. We also want to be sure we have appropriate spaces, ample staff and enough resources to provide the educational experience each student needs and deserves. Last fall, a Facilities Task Force was formed to provide recommendations to maintain learning spaces for years to come while serving a student population that is projected to continue growing. After several meetings – and building on work done earlier with the help of facilities experts and demographers – the Task Force made three recommendations: New elementary school: With 1,400 more students expected in the next five years – and two-thirds of them at the elementary level – we simply need more space. We have been deliberate and conservative in our building plans over the last several years, but... Continue reading Growing Pains — and Opportunities

Enrollment Growth Continues

A message from the Superintendent The first commencement for students of Chaska Public School was in 1899 for four graduates. Last May, we graduated 745 students. Enrollment for grades K-12 exceeds 9,600. The last 30 years have been the most significant time of growth. We had five K-12 school buildings in 1988. Now we have 14, plus one for early childhood program and one with a transition program for students ages 17-21. Student enrollment tripled in that same time. What may be most surprising is that about half of the land in Eastern Carver County Schools is undeveloped. Housing growth may ebb and flow, but the long-term enrollment trajectory should remain upward. While our schools, teachers and principals handle the day-to-day business of delivering exceptional, personalized learning, district administration is looking at future planning. The key metrics we track are student enrollment and school capacity. If you ask a principal what the “perfect” size is for their school, you will... Continue reading Enrollment Growth Continues

Ensuring our schools welcome and appreciate all

Last month, Eastern Carver County Schools was in the news based on an allegation that a school had not adequately responded to reports of racial harassment. The event that prompted the media to feature our district was a student who found a racial slur written on the shirt he kept in school for his personal wellness class. We are investigating that specific incident. The issue raised a larger question about whether our school district is doing enough to combat bigotry and, in particular, racial harassment. Parents of students of color, in particular, are asking me and other school leaders whether their children are safe in our schools. Our schools have and will continue to respond to every incident of harassment that is reported to us. We have a disciplinary process for incidents that happen in school. If something happens outside of the school day and we cannot respond with school discipline, our administrators and counselors still talk with students to educate them and to be clear... Continue reading Ensuring our schools welcome and appreciate all

Facility task force helping prioritize our “to-do” list

A chill in the air means that for many, the holiday season is approaching and fall parent-teacher conferences have wrapped up. It’s also the time we raise the dome over the Athletic Center. This is our community’s second season with athletic fields protected from the weather. This is going to be a community amenity for years to come. Students at Pioneer Ridge Middle School are now swimming as part of their personal wellness classes. Carver Elementary and the additions at Victoria and Clover Ridge elementary schools now operate as if they were always there. We hear from families in other school districts who view our facilities and our excellent curriculum with envy. We’re grateful for the support of our community in the 2015 referendum that provided these facilities. Survey results indicate 93 percent of residents rate the quality of our schools as good or excellent, one of the highest results in the metro area. We do not take any of it for granted. After the first few years, new... Continue reading Facility task force helping prioritize our “to-do” list

Planning for the future of our facilities

And just like that, we’re back to school. School routines have been re-established and classrooms are busy again with learning. We’re grateful for each family that chose Eastern Carver County Schools this year. We have a number of advantages that make us a destination for families, including our commitment to personalized learning, safe and welcoming schools and opportunities for students whatever their interests. As discussed in a previous column, this summer was dedicated to studies for Eastern Carver County Schools’ future. Housing growth is all around us. New homes bring young families and children. All four of our cities – Chaska, Chanhassen, Victoria and Carver – have new home construction. As a result of developments underway and planned, we expect to have 1,000 more students in our district in four years. Enrollment is only half the story. We have to maintain our existing facilities. Previous generations of residents helped establish our district with schools that met needs... Continue reading Planning for the future of our facilities