2023-04-28 Noticias de ISLA y ISLA PTO

April 28, 2023

Emily Smith

Administrative Assistant

Letter from the Director

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of becoming.” Goethe

Queridas Familias:

  • Last week, our 5th and 6th Grade Engineering Teams went to the Engineering Machine Design Contest at Anoka Technical College with ISLA Exploracion teacher Adriana Maldonado to present their “Rube Goldberg” machines along with 30 other teams from all around the state.  A Rube Goldberg machine is one which is intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an indirect and overly complicated way, relying on chain reactions, all while using the Engineering Design Cycle and STEM processes. Well done teams!  
  • Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments are nearly completed, with only 5th grade Science remaining next week. Thank you to all the parents for your support with this endeavor again this spring. 
  • 6th Grade PYP Exhibition is well underway, and there is lots of activity down at that wing of the building.  Once again this year, we are using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a guide for the mentor groups.   See the schedule below for the public presentation date. 
  • Once again this year, we are publishing a list of key dates next month, as things are getting pretty busy around here.   Please take a look at the events and add them to your family calendar.  Note that we will be having a family day/carnival on June 4th to celebrate all our work this year-- so save the date!  



Yearbook Ordering - Last Week!

Order your yearbook HERE today! The last day to order is May 5.
Compre su anuario AQUÍ hoy! El último día para ordenar es el 5 de mayo.

Sunday April 30 is the LAST DAY to upload ISLA community photos to use in the yearbook! Use the links below to share your photos with the yearbook team. If you need to sign up for the first time, our school code is 1016123740893948. Please reach out to hestrada@isla.school with any questions.

El domingo 30 de abril es el ÚLTIMO DÍA para subir fotos de la comunidad de ISLA para usar en el anuario. Usa los vínculos abajo para compartir tus fotos con el equipo del anuario. Si necesitan registrarse por primera vez, el código escolar es 1016123740893948. Por cualquier pregunta, se pueden conectar con hestrada@isla.school.

El Nido
Phy Ed/Educ fisica
Spirit Week/Semana de espiritu
Teachers & Staff/Maestros y personal

Fundraising Committee Corner

Have you heard? Taylor Swift is coming to town. The ISLA Fundraising Committee is conducting a Taylor Swift concert raffle - winner will receive 2 tickets to The Eras Tour on June 23, 2023 at US Bank Stadium. The two tickets are in section 207. Raffle tickets are $20 each, and there is no limit to how many tickets you can purchase. Tickets can be paid for with cash, check, or Venmo, and buyer must 18 years or older to purchase. Please fill out this order form to reserve your raffle tickets, and a Fundraising Committee member will reach out to you to confirm payment. Drawing will be held at the End of School Celebration on June 4.

School Board Election - May 12 - 15

ISLA's annual board of directors election will be held via an online voting platform, Election Buddy, in mid-May, with results announced at the May 16 board meeting.  All ISLA staff members and parents and guardians of ISLA students are eligible to vote for school board members.

Eligible voters should receive a unique ballot link by email on Friday, May 12 and will be permitted to cast their vote using that link anytime thereafter until 5:00pm on Monday, May 15.  If you do NOT currently have an email address on file with the school, please contact Emily Smith at esmith@isla.school to provide a current email address to receive your online ballot.  If you do not have access to email or a device for online voting, you will be able to vote in person at the school office during school hours on Friday May 12 and Monday May 15.

Biographies of the board candidates and a sample ballot can be found on the ISLA website: https://www.isla.school/board/board-candidates.

ISLA Board Corner

Hello Community Members –

As part of our commitment to increasing communication with our community, I wanted to send out a summary of our April Board Meeting.  Please reach out to any board member if you have questions or comments.

Thank you,

Lida Etemad
ISLA Board of Directors Chair

Open Comment Period

A teacher presented a request for a Board listening session.  The board discussed and will schedule.

Parents provided comments regarding accommodations for neurodivergent students.  A subset of the board is working with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee on follow-up requests.

Director’s Report

During the Director’s report, a resignation letter from Sra De La Cruz was read.  She will be deeply missed by students, staff and parents alike.  We wish her the best as she returns back to Columbia.

Draft Budget Review – We reviewed and discussed the draft budget for the 2023-2024 school year.  This had most operational changes included already but did not have the new plan for the administrative team yet. We’re all still working on it. Admin is working closely with Dana (Chair of the HR Committee), who will also be meeting with teachers/staff. Then the HR committee will be bringing a recommendation back to the finance committee.  The draft budget right now has a loss of $175,000 for next year – meaning we have current plans to spend $175,000 more than we’ll bring in.  We do have some savings in the bank that can be used to cover some losses, but we do not have enough to cover $175,000.  So, we are currently working to cut $75,000 of spending from next year’s draft budget.  Of note, historically, we have budgeted for $75,000 of gifts and donations, but due to the efforts of the fundraising committee this year, we have raised nearly $125,000.  We have budgeted $125,000 of fundraising for next year, which means that between the PTO and the school fundraising, over 10 staff / Language Ambassadors are funded by the community each year!

Approval for Open Board Seats – Due to resignations on the board, we have two open seats.  The board approved Marielos Cabrera to fill the vacancy left by Ravi.  Marielos is a lawyer whose mother was a founding member of ISLA and she herself attended a Spanish Immersion school.  She will join the board effective immediately and will serve just over a 2-year term.  Adriana Maldonado was appointed to the board seat that is left open due to the resignation of Liz Crouse.  Adriana will join the board as of July 1 and serve a one-year term.

Approval of the Anti-bully Policy Revisions – The revisions to the anti-bullying policy were updated.  The conversation largely focused on the best way to communicate the policy to teachers / staff / families / volunteers.  There was a discussion about training for teachers/staff.

Approval of the Fundraising Committee Charter – The fundraising committee charter was approved.

Approval of Dana Provus as the Executive Director Search Co-chair – The executive director search committee is being formed.  Dana will serve as one of the co-chairs.  (A question has been asked about how board committee chairs are determined.  All committee chairs are volunteers who are then approved by the board.)  We have had 12 community members and 1 teacher who have expressed interest in participating in the search process.  A board member discussed the last ED search process where a smaller search committee handled the logistics of the process and then a larger group of volunteers assisted with reviewing applicants, conducting interviews and selected finalists for in-person interviews.  The process for this search will be determined by the search committee.

Review of the Student Travel Policy – Per feedback from teachers/staff, the board will provide adequate time for feedback on board actions that impact the teachers/staff.  As such, the proposed student travel policy was discussed at this meeting and will be voted on at the May board meeting.  Roberto Izquierdo attended the first part of the board meeting to provide comments on the policy, noting that he felt the policy as written was too restrictive from a timing standpoint and that all details of a trip could not be known 12 months in advance.  During the discussion of the policy, the DEI committee chair clarified that the purpose of the requirement to have an outline of the trip 12 months prior wasn’t meant to imply that every detail of the trip needed to be known at that time, but that a summary of the items listed would be available.  The policy continues to be worked on and final draft will be presented at the next meeting for approval.

Recap of the Closed Session from the March Board Meeting – The ED Evaluation Committee chair provided the following summary of the closed session: The board reviewed the 360 survey year-over-year results and written feedback. The Evaluation Team lead provided a high level summary of themes in the written feedback, including positive feedback, strengths, and weaknesses for the board and/or Executive Director.

Approval of Change to Transportation Charges – At the March Board meeting, the transportation committee asked for board feedback on a change to how families are charged for bussing.  Currently, legacy riders (students who rode the bus prior to the school moving to the Edina location) are not billed for bus services.  This was due to a board decision at the time the decision was made to move buildings.  Given the budget constraints, the transportation committee requested that the board revisit this decision and consider billing families for transportation services provided to legacy students.  The board discussed the repercussions this could have for families that felt strongly about this topic.  A board member commented that the average salary and benefits for a teacher is $80,000 and that this change would help fund half of a teacher.  The board approved the motion which allowed for the transportation committee to provide a mechanism to allow families that felt strongly to opt-out of paying.

Discussion of new 2023-2024 budget item – An unexpected bill for $21,000 was submitted from the prior business manager.  As this was not included in the revised budget that was approved last November, the board needs to review and approve the budget for this item.  This will be discussed at the next board meeting.

Committee Reports – Two committees provided verbal updates.

Fundraising - A raffle for two tickets to the June Taylor Swift Concert will be held as a fundraiser for the school!  The drawing will be held at an end of year picnic at the school.

DEI – The DEI committee requested that the Board approve a proposal to conduct an equity walk-through for the school.  Due to the feedback from teachers / staff, it was requested that the committee put together a formal proposal that could be circulated to the teacher/staff community for feedback prior to the Board voting on such a proposal.

Closed Session – The Board moved into a closed session to discuss a grievance against an individual subject to the Board’s authority.

Transportation Committee Update

ISLA Community,

The ISLA Board added a Transportation Committee during the move to our new building. The new committee was tasked with setting up transportation at ISLA for the first time in our history as we had previously always opted for district transportation. One of the biggest benefits of running our own transportation is that we are able to offer neighborhood transportation to 59% of our families where Edina district bussing would only serve 6% of current families. Busing a significant portion of our population is critical for recruitment as well as to allow for effective drop off and pick up for the portion of our population who don't ride the bus. Regardless of how our students get to school we want all students to be safely transported to school in time for a successful start to the school day and be safely transported home after their school day.

The Transportation Committee is composed of a small number of dedicated volunteers and staff members. Collectively we have had a steep learning curve and we are very grateful to our families for taking the time to provide us with such valuable feedback in the recent Transportation Survey. 236 of you responded and we would like to share a summary of the results with you.

Reflecting what we already understood to be true, 67% of you are having an Average to Excellent overall experience with transport, however 32% of you are having a Fair or Poor experience. We would like to see more families having good experiences and fewer having poor experiences. We are committed to continue working towards those outcomes.

What our community really appreciates:

  • How the community came together to help each other out via Facebook and text groups while we waited for the Here Comes the Bus app to be operational
  • Convenient stops and shorter rides
  • Flexibility shown to move stops that were problematic/unsafe
  • Punctuality of the buses (most routes)
  • Bus drivers and their thoughtfulness
  • Community building with groups of families at bus stops and students getting to know students of other ages on the bus
  • Generally, the service and consistency is better this year than last year!

Our greatest opportunities include:

  • By far the most consistent feedback was that a Bus Tracking App is mandatory!
  • Extending the bus boundary south of the school
  • Issues with safety and route timing are exacerbated when their are substitute drivers
  • Fairness and equity in relation to legacy bus riders
  • Overcrowded parking lot during drop off / pick up at ISLA

Since the survey we have successfully rolled out the Here Comes the Bus App to give families visibility to where their bus is and when it will arrive at their stop. Later this Spring we intend to recommend a new bus boundary to the ISLA Board for their consideration for the 2024-2025 school year. These are a few of the items that we've been working on recently and will continue to work to make bussing a positive experience for ISLA families.

~Transportation Committee

End of School Celebration

June is almost here, and what better way to celebrate the end of a great year than to gather together as a community. Please join us on Sunday, June 4th from 3-6pm at ISLA school for time to socialize and celebrate our great community, teachers, and staff - and have a little fun! The Fundraising Committee has reserved a bounce house and dunk tank and are looking for any volunteers who might be willing to coordinate music or face paint? Please reach out to ISLA parent and Fundraising Committee member, Alisa Linne at alisalinne@gmail.com if you are interested in helping.

Spread the Word

If you are interested in helping spread the ISLA word in local communities, the Marketing and Communications Committee wants to hear from you. The committee is exploring ideas for participation in area parades, community festivals, and other events. The committee isn't looking for a large commitment of time, but maybe a couple of days during the year depending on interest. Send an email to marketing@isla.school if interested in learning more.

Warm thoughts of spring!

We are asking you to help us by checking for ISLA books at home.

They should be returned to the library.

We would like to end the school year with our whole inventory, so we can begin the 2023/2024 year with happy readers!

Thank you!

Sra. Claudia