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Rumors about kindergarten program (various)

Rumor: I heard that Anoka-Hennepin schools will go back to having half-day, every-day kindergarten next year. Is this true?

The facts:
No. Anoka-Hennepin will continue the all-day-every-other-day kindergarten schedule it has had since the 2002-03 school year. The School Board approved the change from a half-day kindergarten schedule to the all-day-every-other-day kindergarten schedule in January 2002 as part of a budget-balancing plan that included approximately $10 million in cuts and fee increases. This change was made, in part, to save on transportation costs. The change saves more than $800,000 each year on transportation.

Rumors about curriculum, grades, etc.

Rumor: As a result of "globalization," Anoka-Hennepin high schools no longer teach U.S. history other than in general social studies courses. Is this true? (from March 2006)

The facts:
This rumor is false and baseless. Anoka-Hennepin students start learning about the United States in detail in grades four and five, which focus on citizenship, U.S. geography, and early American history including the establishment of government. In grade seven they study U.S. history from the first Americans to the American Revolution and the early 19th century. In grade nine, all Anoka-Hennepin students are required to take U.S. Political History and Government. They learn about the formation of our system of government, including the founding documents, the branches of government, and the responsibilities of citizenship. In grade 10, students again have a U.S. history requirement that covers the Jeffersonian era (approximately 1801) through the present. In grade 12, all students are required to take economics, law and politics, which deal in depth with public policy and law, including the Constitution. In total, Anoka-Hennepin students have three years of U.S. history plus 1.5 years on the study of citizenship, law, the Constitution and government. Anoka-Hennepin students are taught ancient history and world history in grades six, eight and 11. High school students can choose to take social studies electives to learn more about U.S. history and government, as well as world history and international perspectives.

Rumors about high schools (various)

High school stadium lights
Rumor:
The high schools waste lots of money and energy by leaving their stadium lights on all night long. (from October 2009)

The facts: High schools do not regularly leave on stadium lights overnight, but during homecoming week some turn on a few lights at night in order to discourage vandalism. In the past, damage to fields and stadiums has cost thousands of dollars in emergency repairs and overtime to restore the field for the homecoming game. The short-term expense to power a few lights for several hours outweighs the cost of damage to the field and stadium.



High school schedule and credit changes
Rumor: Now that the elementary schools have implemented the trimester concept, it is a foregone conclusion high schools also be on a trimester schedule. (from April 2009)
 
The facts: All Anoka-Hennepin elementary schools began operating on a trimester schedule this fall. The change was recommended by the Elementary Task Force as a way of addressing teacher workload concerns. In addition, this change will provide consistency throughout the district's schools. (For a number of years, some elementary schools were organized on a four-quarter schedule and others on a trimester schedule.) In all elementary schools, student report cards will be issued once each trimester and parent-teacher conferences will generally be scheduled near the middle of the trimester, though conference dates vary from school to school. The grades 1-12 school calendar will not change to reflect the new elementary schedule. The end-of-quarter staff planning days will remain on the calendar.
 
The elementary schedule change and the High School Credit/Schedule Committee research/data gathering are not connected or dependent on each other in any way. The Board-created Elementary and Secondary Taskforces have never met together and their work is not connected in regard to schedule/requirements.

The High School Credit/Schedule Committee process and research/information gathering stage is currently taking place and will be ongoing. The committee's goal is to review the data that has been collected and then make recommendations to the Secondary Taskforce. The Secondary Taskforce will then determine which proposed schedules will be sent to the High School Credit/Schedule Committee taskforces. The School Board will act on these proposals within the timeline already published and agreed upon by the Board. Click here for committee timeline.



Rumor: The district has already decided that the current four-period day schedule in the high schools will be eliminated. (from April 2009)

The facts: This is not true. The High School Schedule and Credit Committee, the Secondary Task Force and the School Board are now studying the possibility of changing the high school schedule beginning in 2010-11. They have considered a number of potential schedules. At this time, the Task Force and School Board have selected three schedules for further consideration. The current four-period day is one of the three selected for further study.



Champlin Park High School drug and gun searches
Rumor: I have heard rumors that Champlin Park High School had multiple drug busts last week and that guns were found in students' cars. (from April 2007)

The facts:
Champlin Park High School conducted a pre-scheduled search activity in the school's parking lot during the morning of Apr. 19, 2007. The search was conducted by Brooklyn Park police officers with trained police dogs. Champlin Park administration and parking lot supervisors assisted in the search.

The dogs are trained to detect chemicals in enclosed areas. The purpose of this search activity, which is commonly conducted at high schools throughout the United States, is to identify students who are in possession of chemicals on school property. It also increases awareness among students and the community that possession and use of alcohol and illegal chemicals is not tolerated.

When searches of this type find illegal chemicals or weapons, students are disciplined according to the guidelines of the district Student Discipline Policy.

All Anoka-Hennepin high schools work hard to maintain a safe school environment that is free of alcohol and illegal chemicals, to provide awareness and prevention to help students avoid using alcohol and chemicals, and to provide support and assistance to students who are using chemicals.

The police and their dogs successfully identified vehicles in the parking lot which contained chemicals, such as marijuana and alcohol. No guns were found. School administration said that the search activity was organized and smoothly facilitated with minimal disruption to the school day.



Champlin Park High School illness
Rumor: I heard that there were over 200 students ill at Champlin Park High School on Friday, Nov. 3rd, 2006. Was this food poisoning? I also heard that the Department of Health was called because of the large number right away in the morning. What caused this illness? (from November 2006)

The facts:
A number of Champlin Park High School students were absent or got sick at school Friday with a stomach illness. By the end of the day Friday, a total of 234 students either stayed home or went home ill. This represents an 7.1 percent absence rate, which is significantly higher than the average rate of three to five percent. It is still unknown how many of those illnesses were actually related to a possible stomach virus.

At this point there is no reason to believe the illness was the result of food poisoning related to food served in the school cafeteria. "With the majority of more than 3,000 students eating food prepared in the cafeteria, you would expect a much higher rate of illness if the cause was cafeteria food," said Cindy Hiltz, lead school nurse for the district. Some students who became ill did not eat school lunch and it is not known if all students absent Friday had the same type of illness. Hiltz said an illness rate of 10 percent is generally needed to trigger an in depth investigation into the cause of an illness. She reported the illnesses to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Health inspectors from the City of Brooklyn Park inspected the school kitchen Friday afternoon. Following the inspection, Jason Newby, environmental health specialist for Hennepin County, said the school facilities and the procedures followed by cafeteria staff were "excellent and unlikely to be the cause of the illness," according to Allison Bradford, Director of Child Nutrition for the district.

According to Newby, the Hennepin County epidemiologist has not yet ordered a complete investigation because the number of cases thus far has not reached the 10 percent threshold. If the number of cases climbs, there may be a full investigation.



Champlin Park High School uniform policy
Rumor: My son heard a rumor that Champlin Park High School was interested in initiating school uniforms for the school. Are there any plans within the next four years to put a uniform policy in place? (from June 2006)

The facts:
Champlin Park High School is not looking into having uniforms next year or for any years to come
.


High school prom events
Rumor:
I heard that some high schools help students make arrangements for hotel rooms for prom night. (from May 2006)

Rumor:
I heard that some high school students have alcohol at prom.
(from May 2006)

The facts:
Anoka-Hennepin high schools do not assist students in making hotel arrangements for prom night and alcohol is not allowed at prom events. School officials make sure that students have a fun and safe experience at prom by doing the following:

  • Some schools go over event rules with students before prom.
  • Alcohol wands and breathalyzers are on site, if needed.
  • Some schools provide meals at the event location.
  • Administrators, teachers, parents and police officers are present at the event.
  • Some schools do not allow students into the event after a set time and do not allow students to re-enter after they leave.
  • Exits are monitored by staff.
  • Some schools interview the dates of students who are older than 21 or have a non-student sign a contract.
Rumors about boundary changes

Rumor: The portion of the school district north of Country Road 20 will become part of the St. Francis School District if the levy is not approved. (from November 2009)

The facts: There are no plans to change district boundaries or shift an area from one district to another. To do so would require a complex process and agreement by both districts. This has not been considered or discussed.



Rumor:
I heard a rumor that, as part of the potential school closings beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, district boundaries may be impacted and students who live south of 105th Avenue may be changed from the Anoka-Hennepin School District to the Osseo School District. Is it true that this is an option under consideration or are the attendance area changes under consideration all within the current Anoka-Hennepin district boundaries? (from August 2009)

The facts: It is true that there may be school attendance area boundary changes next year, but it is not true that there will be changes to district boundaries. Changing district boundaries requires a vote by residents of both districts. It is a lengthy, complicated process.


Rumor: Cedar Elementary School in St. Francis has a sign outside the building saying is going to be purchased by Anoka-Hennepin. (from March 2009)

The facts: The Anoka-Hennepin School District has no plans to purchase Cedar Elementary School.


Rumor: I heard that the Anoka-Hennepin School District is going to annex the St. Francis School District.
(from March 2009)

The facts: The Anoka-Hennepin School District has no plans to annex the St. Francis School District. There is no process in law for one district to annex another. School districts can merge through a process known as consolidation. This process requires a vote of citizens in both districts.

 
Rumor:
Andover High School students who live south of Andover Boulevard will go to Coon Rapids High School next year. (from March 2009)

The facts:
At this time there are NO plans to change high school attendance boundaries for next year or in the near future. In general, high school boundaries have changed only when a new high school has opened. A committee will begin looking at the potential of closing schools because the district is experiencing declining enrollment, especially at the elementary level. At this time, there is no excess space at the high school level so it is very unlikely the committee will recommend closing a high school and realigning high school attendance area boundaries.



Combined Questions and Rumors:
My folks live in Coon Rapids and I live in Andover. Their neighbor heard from a teacher that the School Board is changing school boundaries for the 2009-2010 school year and has slated some schools for closing. The neighbor didn't know which schools were going to close. (from August 2008)

Our family is purchasing a home in Anoka-Hennepin and we've heard from several people that the area of Brooklyn Park (where we will live) is going to be turned over to the Osseo School District, specifically that Monroe Elementary School will be closed and students living south of highway 610 would be sent to Edinbrook Elementary School, Brooklyn Jr. High School and Park Center Sr. High School. Are the district boundaries between Anoka-Hennepin and Osseo under consideration for change?

Rumor: I have heard a rumor that L.O Jacob will be closing next year. Is that true or just a rumor, if it is true, when would the public here about it?

Response: The School Board has not discussed changing school attendance area boundaries within the district or closing specific schools. The School Board will begin a public discussion process this fall to consider issues related to declining enrollment. Changing school attendance area boundaries and closing schools may be discussed as part of that process.

There are no plans to discuss possible school district boundary changes with Osseo or any other school district.



Rumor: The school district is planning to change attendance area boundaries for middle school students living in a portion of Andover. Is this true? (from February 2007)

The facts: There are no current plans to change any school boundaries for existing neighborhoods. There has been some discussion about assigning undeveloped land that is being platted for development to specific schools, but there has been no discussion of changing boundaries for any existing neighborhoods. Historically, Anoka-Hennepin rarely redraws its secondary school boundaries. What usually prompts a change is the opening of a new middle school or high school. Other than that, they tend to remain the same. There is always an extensive process of public input during boundary changes, and those opportunities would be advertised in the newspaper, on the district Web site and by other methods. Again, there are no boundary changes currently under consideration anywhere in the district.


Rumor:
There is a rumor circulating that East Bethel is building a high school and that North Andover is going to East Bethel and that North Coon Rapids will be going to Andover. Is there any truth to the rumor? Are the school boundaries going to be changing in the next few years? (from August 2006)

The facts: There are no current plans to change any school boundaries for existing neighborhoods. There has been some discussion about assigning undeveloped land that is being platted for development to specific schools, but there has been no discussion of changing boundaries for any existing neighborhoods. Historically, Anoka-Hennepin rarely redraws its secondary school boundaries. What usually prompts a change is the opening of a new middle school or high school. Other than that, they tend to remain the same. There is always an extensive process of public input during boundary changes, and those opportunities would be advertised in the newspaper, on the district Web site and by other methods. Again, there are no boundary changes currently under consideration anywhere in the district.


Rumor:
I recently heard that the Brooklyn Center School District will be merging with the Anoka-Hennepin School District because Brooklyn Center's levy did not pass. Is this true? (from June 2006)

The facts:
The Anoka-Hennepin School District has no plans to take over or merge with the Brooklyn Center School District. When school districts merge, the process is known as consolidation. This process requires a vote of the citizens. Our School Board has not discussed the possibility of consolidation with Brooklyn Center School District.
 





Rumors about employees

Rumor: The district plans to lay off 500 teachers and rehire them at lesser positions so they don't have to pay them as much. (from March 2010)

The facts: The district is not expecting to lay off 500 teachers. Anoka-Hennepin does anticipate that a number of teachers, maybe as many as 500, will be involuntarily transferred into a different position, will have their probationary contract terminated or will be placed on an unrequested leave of absence as a result of closing schools and declining enrollment. Teachers who are involuntarily transferred retain all of their seniority. Teachers placed on an unrequested leave of absence maintain their step and lane, but they do not accrue an additional step while on leave. They may also seek other employment while on an unrequested leave. The last ones placed on leave are the first ones called back, based on the license area that is needed. All of this is part of the negotiated agreement between the teachers' union and the district, specifically Article XVII of the teachers' contract.


Rumor: I heard that if the teachers contract is not done by Jan. 1 that the district loses $1 million dollars in state funding. Is this true? (from December 2007)

The facts: Yes. The district would lose $25 per student in state funding, or approximately $1 million, if the contract is not settled by Jan. 15. The district and the teachers have now reached a tentative agreement. The teachers will vote on the agreement in early January. If they approve it, it will go to the School Board for approval on Jan. 14.



Rumor:
The district is paying a maintenance worker to work eight hours a day, yet this employee works only five hours per day. Is this true? (from 2003)

The facts:
The Supervisor of Operations is aware of no situations in which an employee is working five hours and getting paid for eight hours. In some cases a person may work fewer hours because of doctor's orders after an injury, but when that happens, the person is paid only for the hours worked. It is possible there is a situation in which an employee on a night crew is leaving his/her shift early or coming late. If the district is made aware that is happening, the employee would be disciplined appropriately. If an employee is leaving after only five hours of work, he/she is probably not completing all assigned work. Each Anoka-Hennepin custodian is responsible for cleaning 32,500 square feet daily in comparison with a regional average of 20,720 feet. In addition, each grounds worker is responsible for maintaining 142 acres in comparison with a regional average of 32 acres.

Rumors about land donations and owernship

Rumor: The land under Washington Elementary School in Anoka is not owned by the school district. (from September 2009)

The facts: The district has paperwork going back to 1852 that outlines ownership of the Washington Elementary School site. The last parcel of land that is part of that site was deeded to the district in 1953.



Rumor:
I hear the school district spent millions of dollars on a site for the new Andover High School when the City of Ramsey was willing to donate land. Is this true? (from 2003)

The facts: No city offered to donate land for the new high school.

Rumors about middle schools (various)

Jackson Middle School observatory
Rumor:
Is it true that students from Jackson or other students in the district have not yet used the new observatory at Jackson Middle School (as of June 2006)? Is this telescope being controlled from outside the district?

The facts:
Students have been inside and toured the new observatory. They have seen how the equipment is used and some students have recently used the equipment to capture images. However, cloudy weather during the early part of this year and additional camera alignment issues have prevented other students and staff from capturing useful images. There are plans to have more student access and use during the coming summer months.

The observatory telescope is not being controlled from outside the district or by an outside company. The telescope is operable from a secure teacher's station inside the observatory classroom. A monitor in the classroom can display images captured from the telescope that can be shared throughout the district or across the world through an Internet connection.

Rumors about building new schools, additions to existing buildings

Rumor: How can the district afford construction projects at a time when it needs to be saving money? (from March 2010)

The facts: The district is not building any new schools or facilities and is closing schools at the end of this school year. There will be some construction at Park View and Jackson Middle School to create an effective campus for the new elementary specialty school there. In addition, renovations are needed at Washington to make it suitable for sixth-grade students and the middle school curriculum. All of these expenses are coming out of capital funds, which must be used for facilities, they cannot pay for teachers or other expenses of providing educational programs (textbooks, supplies, heat and lights, transportation, etc). One other expense for the new specialty school is installation of portable classrooms and those are paid out of lease levy funds, which, like capital funds, have a specific purpose and cannot be used for personnel costs.

Apart from that, the district has an obligation to maintain its facilities - which were built through an investment from taxpayers. Every year, the district has a small portion of funds to use exclusively on building maintenance and it prioritizes those funds based on needs across the district. Districtwide annual building maintenance needs regularly exceed the available funds.


Rumor: The district is closing schools, but has enough money to pay for a new front office for Franklin Elementary School.
(from March 2010)

The facts: The current Franklin Elementary School was constructed in the 1910s, with two additions in the 1950s and 60s. For almost 100 years the school has served Anoka and surrounding communities. The school's population will increase in the 2010-11 school year with the close of Washington Elementary School.

The plan is to move the main office from the middle of the building to one end of the building. This will improve security with a more controlled entrance, and it is a more convenient entrance for families coming into the building. The move also will improve the health services office. Existing furniture and equipment will be reused so the major expense is construction. The cost will be paid out of capital funds, which by law cannot be used to pay for classroom teacher salaries or other employee costs.

Every year, the district and some buildings have a small portion of funds to use on facility maintenance. This is necessary to protect the investment made by the community and taxpayers in their public schools.


Rumor: This district is dumping lots of money into Washington School to convert it to part of a middle school for the arts. This doesn't make sense because the district doesn't have the money to do it and they plan to use the building for only a few years until enrollment declines further.
(from March 2010)

The facts: The expenses to establish Washington as a sixth-grade campus for Fred Moore Middle School Center for the Arts help preserve the public investment in education made by past generations. The school will continue to be used by Anoka-Hennepin students, and enrollment in the Ramsey area (which attends Fred Moore) is not expected to decline as sharply as other areas of the district. Some of the improvements in the building would have been needed even if the school remained an elementary school.

In addition, Fred Moore is a specialty school and could expand open enrollment if needed in order to maintain its enrollment. Also, if the school was not renovated, the district would incur ongoing transportation costs and disruption to the school day in order to transport sixth grade students back and forth between Fred Moore and the Washington building. The preference of educators and parents is to keep students at the site for the duration of the school day and the renovations will make that possible.


Rumor:
I heard the district is planning to double the size of Andover High School. (from January 2007)

The facts:
There are no plans to build an addition to Andover High School at this time. Andover High School was designed to accommodate 1,400 students with the potential for an addition to accommodate another 400 students. Voter approval of a bond issue would be needed to pay for the cost of the addition.

At this time, student enrollment is beginning to decline in Anoka-Hennepin School District and it does not appear an addition will be necessary in the near future. Portable classrooms are being used at Andover High School and elsewhere in the district to economically provide additional space as needed. The district has been able to handle fluctuations in enrollment with the use of portable classrooms and leased space rather than building more schools and then needing to close them when they are no longer needed. This strategy has resulted in the district having a very low amount of bonded debt in comparison with other school districts around the state and nation. It has also resulted in lower property taxes for district homeowners.



Rumor:
I understand the district is planning to build a second high school in Andover. (from August 2006)

The facts: There are no plans to build a second high school in Andover. The district cannot build a school without getting citizen approval through a bond referendum to finance the project. There have been no discussions of bringing a bond referendum proposal to the voters for another high school in Andover.

The original design of Andover High School anticipated the potential need for future expansion of that building and allows for additional classrooms to be built accommodating 400 more students if the need arises. Any expansion of the school would also require school board and voter action to fund it and the current projections for student population growth do not show a need. We are, however, in regular contact with the City to determine if housing projects will create additional student population in that area and, at the present time, no large housing projects are moving forward.

 

Rumors about activity fees

Rumor: I heard that a portion of dues paid for fall 2006 activities was reimbursed to parents of dance team members at one of our high schools. Is that true? (from December 2006)

The facts:
The district does not have a reimbursement scheduled for any dance team member. Each participant pays a fall fee and then a winter fee if they participate in both seasons.

Rumors about elementary schools (various)

Evergreen Park Peace Pledge and Pledge of Allegiance
Rumor:
I have heard that Evergreen Park World Studies Elementary School students recite the Peace Pledge rather than the Pledge of Allegiance. (from October 2006)

The facts: That is not true. Students at Evergreen Park World Studies Elementary School recite the Pledge of Allegiance regularly. According to Evergreen Park School Principal Jill Griffith-McRaith, students begin each week with the entire student body reciting together the Pledge of Allegiance first, followed by the Peace Pledge. The rest of the week individual classrooms start each day with the Pledge of Allegiance and then the Peace Pledge.

Evergreen Park has been a recognized international peace site for several years. As part of this recognition, the school incorporates aspects of peacemaking. All students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District recite the pledge one or more times per week in accordance with School Board policy.

Rumors about closing schools

Rumor: Voting for the levy will save Andover High School from closing. (from November 2009)

The facts: There are no plans to close Andover, regardless of the outcome of the levy. If they levy is not approve, an additional elementary school will close. Anoka-Hennepin high schools are now full and some need portable classrooms to accommodate all students. As high school enrollment declines, the district would first discontinue use of the portable classrooms before it would consider closing a high school.



Rumor:
I heard the Early Childhood Special Education program is moving out of the Learning Center Distribution Complex (LCDC) because Peter Enich Kindergarten Center is closing.
(from October 2009)

The facts:
It's true that the kindergarten center is closing; however, that is not linked to any decision regarding location of the Early Childhood Special Education Program at LCDC. There are no plans at this time to move that program.


Rum
or:
I heard the STEP program will close the year after next. (from October 2009)

The facts: At this time there has been no discussion of closing STEP, the Secondary Technical Education Program for juniors and seniors. STEP is a district program located on the campus of Anoka-Hennepin Technical College that provides career and technical programs for students. Students attend STEP either part- or full-time. Part-time STEP students take their core courses at their high school and their specialized courses at STEP.


Rumor:
I heard that the Educational Service Center (ESC) in Coon Rapids will be sold and those services/employees will move into Sandburg Middle School in Anoka. (from September 2009)

The facts: There has been informal discussion for a number of years about relocating the ESC staff to a location that would be large enough for all ESC staff and central staff whose offices are now at the Learning Center/Distribution Complex on Ferry Street in Anoka. The School Board has not officially discussed selling the ESC or moving services and employees to Sandburg Middle School.



Rumor:
I have heard four times this week that Sandburg Middle School will be closing at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, and that kids will be moved to Fred Moore, Coon Rapids, and Oak View middle schools. Is this true? (from April 2009)

The facts: No decisions have been made at this point regarding school closings. The Facility Use Task Force began meeting earlier this month. It will make recommendations to the school board in late August. The board will then make decisions on which schools will close.



Rumor:
I have heard that Andover High School will close if the fall levy fails and all the Andover students will go to Coon Rapids and Blaine High Schools. Is the district considering this to any extent? Which schools are they considering closing? (from September 2007)

The facts: There are no plans at this time to close Andover High School if voters do not approve the levy in November. If levy Questions 1 and 2 fail, the district will need to cut $41 to $42 million in staffing, programs and services for next school year. Several schools will likely close. Neither the School Board nor the administration have begun discussing which schools will close. They will develop criteria to use in determining which schools would close. Many questions will need to be answered before decisions are made, such as: Are the classrooms large enough for large numbers of students? Is the school's air handling system adequate to handle large numbers of students in individual classrooms?

 

Rumors about levies (past)

Rumors about the November 2009 levy:
Rumor:
We have heard a rumor that the additional cost of the referendum levy renewal on the ballot Nov. 3 will be $2 a month each year for the eight years it is in effect. If that were true, it would cost an additional $16 a month by the time it expires.

The facts: NOT TRUE! After the first year (2010-11 school year), the levy will increase each year by the rate of inflation. The Minnesota Department of Finance estimates that the average $2 tax will increase to $2.34 cents the final year of the levy. This is based on information from a highly respected financial forecasting firm that consults with governments and corporations around the world.

If you want more information on the levy, check the district Web site at www.anoka.k12.mn.us/levy2009
.

Rumors about the November 2007 levy:

  • Click here to view the Question and Answer sections for the 2007 levy. 
  • Click here to read "Question of the Week" items about the 2007 levy.

Rumor: The rumor in our neighborhood is that Roger Giroux was given a 9 percent pay raise, spread over the next three years, but that he took the whole 9 percent now in case the levy doesn't pass. Is this true?

The facts: Superintendent Giroux has not received a salary increase since Jan. 1, 2005. His current base salary is $155,000 with an opportunity to receive up to an additional $10,000 in performance incentives. In June of this last year, and in accordance with Minnesota Statute, the School Board approved a new three-year contract effective Jan. 1, 2008 through Dec. 31, 2010 contingent on successful completion of the current contract. The new contract will provide a base salary of $170,000 as well as performance incentives of up to $20,000. The new contract does not provide for any increases in salary during the three year contract term. The increase represents just over 3 percent average increase per year over a five to six year period and catches up Anoka-Hennepin's superintendent to be more comparable with other metro school districts (enrollment 40,657). In this regard, although Anoka-Hennepin is the largest school district in the state, several metro area school districts currently pay their superintendents total salary packages of $190,000 to $200,000 or more.

It is important to note that Supt. Giroux does not receive a car allowance, technology allowance or other business expenses.

Here are some superintendent salaries from other metro districts:

  • St. Paul - $187,464 plus performance compensation based on evaluation, $16,200 for car and expenses (enrollment 40,034)
  • Minneapolis - $194,100, vehicle allowance of not less than $400 per month  (enrollment 36,337)
  • Rosemount - $179,900 (enrollment 27,617)
  • Osseo - $185,000 (enrollment 21,700)
  • Robbinsdale - $166,425 plus $8,321 performance bonus, $9,600 auto, phone technology and tuition allowance (enrollment 13,044)
  • Elk River - $160,000 plus $7,500 performance bonus and $7,200 car allowance (enrollment 11,803)
  • Bloomington - $160,000 (enrollment 10,346)
  • Edina - $175,100 plus $8,400 additional compensation (7,495 students)


Rumor: I heard the cost of the new levy will be an extra $600 a year for the owner of an average home in the district. That's more than the district's materials said it would be. They are hiding the true cost.

The facts: The additional tax cost of the Anoka-Hennepin School District levy and bond proposal would not be $600 a year for a home valued at $250,000, it would be $330 per year, or approximately $28 per month, if all four questions on the ballot were approved. This is in addition to the $22 per month homeowners are currently paying for the levy approved in 2002 that is now expiring. As stated in the district's levy mailing, Your Schools, Your Community, Your Choice, the total cost would be $594 a year, which includes the new amount plus the tax people have been paying for the levy voters approved in 2002.

A tax calculator is available on the district Web site at: www.anoka.k12.mn.us. Thank you citizens for your interest in these critical issues.


Rumor:
I have heard that "Levy Yes" yard signs are only being given to parents in Anoka-Hennepin and not all residents. The purpose being that if more residents go to the polls, that are not parents, the levy will fail.
 
The facts: The Anoka-Hennepin School District is not involved in the creation, printing or distribution of lawn signs for the 2007 levy. Under state law, the district cannot encourage a yes or no vote on a ballot question. Its job is to provide information. Election lawn signs are created by an independent organization.


Rumor:
I heard that Andover Elementary was going to change to grades one through six if the levy doesn't pass. Is that true?

The facts: If questions 1 and 2 do not pass, it is possible that schools will be reconfigured.  If the levy is not approved, the School Board would implement the list of cuts it approved in September. This includes closing up to six elementary schools, up to two middle schools and up to one high school. This will require a change in all attendance area boundaries. It may also change the grade structure at all levels: elementary to kindergarten through six (not grades one through six), middle school to seven through nine, high school to 10 through 12.  

No decisions have been made yet about which schools will be closed if the levy is not approved. Many factors will be considered and the district is now in the process of gathering data to help make this decision. The list of potential cuts is available to view on the district Web site, Levy 2007 News section.


Rumor: I've heard that the district pays $2,000 for Apple computers when Dell computers can be purchased for $1,200. Is that true?

The facts:
The average cost of Apple computers purchased by the district is well below $1,000, according to Patrick Plant, director of technology. For example, the purchase price has been as low as $615, which was the cost of our current entry-levy classroom computers for kindergarten through grade eight.  

In addition, the district also purchases PCs. Recently; six-year-old high school classroom computers were replaced with Dell computers at a cost of $815 each. The six-year-old computers were then repurposed to meet student needs elsewhere in the district, replacing even older computers.



Rumor: I heard that people who rent an apartment or a home cannot vote in the levy or bond election, only property owners can vote. Is that true?

The facts: No, all citizens are eligible to vote in school levy and bond elections regardless of whether or not they own property within the school district. Renters will not directly pay taxes associated with school levies and bonds, but they may see the added cost reflected in their rent.


Rumor: Small businesses are going to have a difficult time paying a property tax increase for the levy because they pay so much more than homeowners.

The facts: The property tax for the levy is based on the value of the property, whether it is a home or a business. However, the tax increase for the bond would be a bit higher for business.  For the levy, the owner of a business valued at $500,000 would pay the same amount of property tax as the owner of a home of the same value, however the business owner would pay $56 more per year for the bond than the homeowner. The state determines the basis for taxation of various types, not the school district.

Business owners and homeowners can check out the impact of the levy and bond on their property taxes by using the tax calculator on the district Web site: www.anoka.k12.mn.us. Click on the link in the "A-H News" scrolling text section. 


Rumor: I heard that Champlin Park High School hired 60 more teachers this year. The district can't be that short of money if it can hire 60 more teachers for just one school.

The facts: Champlin Park High School hired 18 teachers this year. Most were hired to replace teachers who resigned, or retired, or moved to another teaching position. In general, changes in staff occur in the high schools because the need for teachers is determined, at least in part, by the courses students choose. Some years, or semesters, fewer teachers are needed to teach in a particular subject, while more are needed in another. Sometimes additional teachers are needed because of changes in enrollment.


Rumor: I've heard that a district committee working on school closings has identified my school to be closed next year if the levy fails.

The facts: Several administrators have begun gathering facts to be used in making decisions about closing schools if that becomes necessary. At this point, there isn't a formal school closing committee, and no one has identified which schools would be considered for closing.


Rumor: I heard that if voters approve the levy, the money goes to the state and then the state decides which school districts will get it. There's no guarantee that our schools are going to get the money they contribute if the levy is approved.

The facts: All property taxes are collected by the county. The county distributes them to the school district, so all property taxes paid for school purposes by Anoka-Hennepin School District residents go to the Anoka-Hennepin School District.



Rumor:
I heard the superintendent hired a friend several years ago and this employee is getting a six-figure salary.

The facts: The superintendent has never hired a friend. Most decisions about hiring are made by principals, directors of departments, or associate superintendents, not by the superintendent. In fact, when asked about this rumor, the superintendent indicated that he has few friends, and none that he would hire!


Rumor: I heard that the cost of the levy will be $400 a month for the average homeowner. I can't afford that!

The facts: The average monthly cost, based on a home valued at $250,000, will depend on how many of the four ballot questions are approved. Taxpayers are currently paying approximately $22 a month for the existing 2002 levy. If all four questions are approved they will pay an additional $28 a month. The total cost will be approximately $50 a month.


Rumor: I heard that my child's school will be torn down if the levy is not approved.

The facts: No decisions have been made about which schools will be closed if the levy is not approved. Many factors will be considered and the district is now in the process of gathering data to help make this decision. It is very unlikely that any school buildings will be torn down. They may be used for other programs. Currently, the district rents space for a number of programs. The district could move these programs into school buildings that may close.


Rumor:
I heard that the reason the district needs more money from this levy is that it is running most schools half empty because of enrollment decline.

The facts:
This is not true. Most schools are full and some schools must use portable classrooms to accommodate students. The district hit its peak enrollment in 2004 at 40,151 kindergarten through grade 12 students in regular schools on October 1, the day official enrollment figures are calculated for the year. (This does not include approximately 1,650 students in alternative schools, K-12 special education sites and Early Childhood Special Education programs.) Enrollment is fairly stable with slight decline. Last year the district had 39,919 students in regular schools. The official enrollment count for this year has not yet been calculated. Board members and administrators have discussed the need to close schools or use them for other uses if enrollment declines to the point where one or more schools is no longer needed because operating space that is not needed is costly. The district leases space for a number of educational programs for which there is no space in school buildings. Some programs in leased space may move into school buildings if the space is no longer needed for K-12 programs.


Rumor: I have heard that Andover High School will close if the fall levy fails and all the Andover students will go to Coon Rapids and Blaine High Schools. Is the district considering this to any extent? Which schools are they considering closing?

The facts: There are no plans at this time to close Andover High School if voters do not approve the levy in November. If levy Questions 1 and 2 fail, the district will need to cut $41 to $42 million in staffing, programs and services for next school year. Several schools will likely close. Neither the School Board nor the administration have begun discussing which schools will close. They will develop criteria to use in determining which schools would close. Many questions will need to be answered before decisions are made, such as: Are the classrooms large enough for large numbers of students? Is the school's air handling system adequate to handle large numbers of students in individual classrooms?



Rumor: I have heard that the district plans to close two schools even if the levy passes.

The facts: The School Board does not have plans to close schools. There has been some general discussion that there may be a need to close schools if enrollment declines in the coming years. Operating more schools than necessary to accommodate enrollment is not cost effective.




Rumors about weather and closing schools

The Communications and Public Relations Department has received many questions for Backpack Online e-newsletter's "Question of the Week" feature (and in general) throughout the years on the general topic of snow days and how the decision to close school is made. Listed below are the most commonly asked questions and rumors. This information was last updated on Dec. 8, 2009.  

Click here to view the winter weather and school closing podcast episode, featuring special guest Superintendent Dennis Carlson.

Where can I get information on school closings due to weather?
To get information regarding school closings or delayed start times, you should monitor school and district Web sites, and pay attention to TV and radio news reports. The district will post any general information about school closings/delayed start times on the front page of the Web site (check with individual schools on the status of specific activities).

The district also releases this information to TV stations (WCCO, KSTP, FOX 9, KARE, Northwest Community TV) and WCCO radio. Click here to view the WCCO School Closing Web site. You may also call the district office at 763-506-1000.


How cold does it have to be to close school?

The safety of all our students is our first priority when determining if it is safe for schools to stay open in very cold weather. In making this decision, we use the National Weather Service wind chill chart,
which uses a combination of air temperature and wind speed to determine the length of time a person may safely be outside. Click here to view or download chart.

The goal is to be within the wind chill range where students can be outside for 30 minutes without risk of frostbite. This should give students time to walk to school or wait for the bus safely. By dressing children properly, parents/guardians can protect against the effects of cold weather. 

Why don't you close school when it is really cold and windy?
Even when it's very cold and windy, typically businesses and government offices remain open, and most school districts in Minnesota, including all those in the metro area, remain open.
 
The decision to close school is a serious one, and it affects many working families who would have to take a day off of work or find day care on short notice. Some families do not have these options and their children may be left home alone. Often, children are more at risk when we close school. As the largest school district in Minnesota, with more than 240,000 residents and approximately 40,500 students, many families and businesses are affected when Anoka-Hennepin closes its schools.
 
Extremely cold weather is not unheard of in Minnesota. Many times it gets very cold in the state while school still is in session. By dressing children properly, parents/guardians can protect against the effects of cold weather.

What if I am concerned about the weather and school is in session?
In cases of extreme winter weather, parents/guardians have the final decision on whether to send their child to school. Parents can choose to keep their children home because of the weather, and their children will have an excused absence for the day. A parent or guardian must call to report the absence. If the school is not contacted, the student will not receive an excused absence.


How do I determine if school bus service is operating when we have had severe weather?
District transportation staff members drive roads and check with bus company staff, local city and county public works staff between 4 and 5 a.m. to determine if streets are open and buses can get through. We also check weather forecasts and consult with other school districts who may be experiencing the same or similar weather.
 
When we have snowstorms and similar winter weather, the roads are slippery. It does take us a little longer to get through routes; however, we plan as much as possible to be on time.

In a district of our size, more than 170 square miles, it would be difficult for us to maintain a site to track conditions across the district. Parents should assume that unless school is called off, our school buses are running.

I heard that Anoka-Hennepin prides itself on never closing for weather related problems. Is this true?
No.
Typically, when Anoka-Hennepin has closed school, the conditions were snow and ice - conditions that kept buses from running. In 1994, then-Gov. Arne Carlson ordered schools closed due to extreme wind chill temperatures.
 

Anoka-Hennepin closed in the fall of 2005 following a large rainstorm that caused a number of power outages. In addition it has closed several times in recent years for snow or cold. For example, it closed on March 15, 2002 when approximately a foot of heavy snow fell overnight and through early morning hours,
and March 2, 2007 due to wind chill.
 
Tips on appropriate dress for cold weather:

  • Wear several layers, the layer of air between each piece of clothing acts as extra insulation
  • Wear clothing that insulates, shields and breathes. Wool and polypropylene are good insulators
  • Outer layers should be wind and waterproof
  • Wear wool socks and well-fitting waterproof boots
  • Wear a hat to prevent heat loss
  • In most cases, mittens are warmer than gloves
  • In extreme cold, cover all areas of exposed skin

Does the district lose money if school is closed?
No. The district does not lose state aid if school closes for weather or other emergencies. State revenue is based on the number of students enrolled in school, not on the number of days in school.
 
Will elementary students be allowed outside for recess when it is 25 below zero?

No. The guideline for keeping children inside for recess will be zero degrees or 10 degrees below zero wind chill. Accommodations for children with special medical needs can be made with the Health Services office; written documentation from a doctor will be required.
 
Are student crossing guards allowed out in cold weather?
Yes. School staff check student-crossing guards to ensure that they have warm and proper clothing to be out in cold weather.

 

 
Rumors about Day of Silence

Rumor: I heard that high schools in the Anoka-Hennepin School District are going to participate in Day of Silence. I heard about it at my church and got an email listing your high schools as participating schools. (from March 2008)

The facts: This is not true. Anoka-Hennepin schools do not observe the Day of Silence.

Rumors about superintendent search

Rumor: I heard the school district spent $60,000 just to find a search firm to look for a new superintendent. (from October 2008)

The facts: The district did not hire a consultant to look for a superintendent search firm. It sent out a letter of inquiry to search firms and invited them to submit proposals. It then interviewed the search firms and selected one that best met the boards' needs. Search firms from outside the area who came to present a proposal did so at their own expense.

The Anoka-Hennepin School Board hired Blueprint Education Group to do preliminary work of gathering input from community, students and staff about what kind of person they want for their next superintendent. What knowledge, skills, abilities and personal attributes should this next leader possess? Blueprint has gathered this information through community surveys, public meetings, interviews and focus group discussions. It will analyze the data and prepare a report for the board and the superintendent search firm to use in the search. The cost of this work is $9,000.

The board has also selected a search firm and is expected to approve a contract with that firm October 13. The cost of the proposed contract is not to exceed $24,900. This brings the consultant fees for the entire search to approximately $33,900.

Citizens who are interested in following the search process can check the superintendent search section of the Anoka-Hennepin School District Web site at: www.anoka.k12.mn.us/suptsearch.

Rumors about transportation

Rumor: I heard that Andover High School is going to be busing students from Minneapolis to Andover High School starting in October 2010. Is this true? (from September 2010)

The facts: Students are not going to be bused from anywhere beyond Andover High School's attendance area. We have plenty of students at Andover, and even when enrollment inevitably begins to decrease (which according to our projections it will), we will still have enough students to fill the school.

Our student capacity at Andover High School without portables would be 1,400 students. The capacity increases to 1,800 students with the two portable classrooms.


Rumor:
I heard the kids who will go to Park View next year will have to ride buses with Jackson Middle School students. (from October 2009)

The facts: There is neither truth to the rumor nor any staff discussion of the idea. There is a significant difference in the starting time for elementary schools and middle schools so having students from both levels ride the bus together is not practical. The district will set school hours once the attendance area boundaries have been completed.

Rumors about 2011 Levy Referendum

Rumors related to the November 2011 levy:

Rumor: If the school district can afford to remodel University Avenue School, it doesn't need a levy.
THE FACTS: A portion of the funding for that school, and its specialty programming on aviation, aeronautics and children's engingeering come from state and federal desegregation revenue. Most of the renovations have been paid out of capital funds, which are for construction and renovation only. Capital funds cannot be used to pay for teacher salaries. By renovating the school and adding a specialty school focus, the school has brought in new enrollment from outside the school district, which provides additional revenue to the school and the district.

Rumor: I heard the superintendent moved recently and got a big stipend for "moving costs." How can they ask for a levy when this goes on?
THE FACTS:
The superintendent moved a block. He still resides in Blaine and within the Anoka-Hennepin School District boundaries. He did not receive any money for moving and paid a student out of his own pocket to help him move boxes and furniture.

Maybe this rumor arose because earlier this month, the Saint Paul Public Schools superintendent received a stipend for up to $40,000 in relocat ion costs to purchase a home within the borders of St. Paul. To reiterate, the Anoka-Hennepin superintendent did not recieve a stipend for moving.

Rumor: I heard that Anoka-Hennepin is getting an extra $763 per pupil in revenue from the state. Why do they need a levy if this is true?
THE FACTS:
This is not true. The district did receive additional money, but it is not even close to this amount.

First, the Legislature shifted funding away from K-12 schools in order to b alance the state budget. Anoka-Hennepin will get 60 percent of its funding for the 2011-12 school year. The remaining 40 percent will come next year. This 60/40 shift repeats in the 2012-13 school year with 40 percent of the district's funding arriving during the 2013-14 school year.

Because of this shift Anoka-Hennepin does not have enough cash flow to cover basic operating expenses like payroll. The district must borrow the money. The Legislature provided $50 per student for each of the next two years to cover the interest costs of borrowing. In the 2012-2013 school year, Anoka-Hennepin received additional compensatory revenue (for increasing numbers of students in poverty), most of which was one-time money that does not continue. Finally, because of improved test scores, the state awarded the district some additional funds.

Bottom line, the district received $2.2 million this year and will receive $7.2 million next year (of which $3 million is one-time money). From 2011 to 2013, this is an increase of $178 per pupil plus $79 per pupil in one-time funds. This is nowhere near the $1,044 per pupil provided by the referendum levy that is up for renewal.

Rumor: If you cut administration, you can save the money you need .
THE FACTS:
Anoka-Hennepin's central administration costs are 2.9 percent of total expenses, and its costs are one of the low est in the metro area. If the entire central administration were eliminated (and if, theoretically we could manage without departments like benefits, which manages the health insurance plan, and payroll, which ensures staff are paid), the savings would be $12 million. This is one-quarter of the $48 million renewal that is Question 1 of this year's levy referendum.