Hopkins Proposal Task Force Update

September 29, 2019

Justin Elder

Board Director

Dear ISLA families,

As this academic year is coming to an end, so too will the Hopkins proposal task force’s work on behalf of the ISLA’s board of directors.

This task force was formed by the ISLA board to evaluate the invitation from the Hopkins School District to have ISLA join Hopkins as a district school. Our task was to identify, investigate, analyze and summarize important decision-making criteria perceived to be critical in evaluating the value of the ISLA merger with Hopkins.

I believe this proposal presented us with a great reason and opportunity to take a deep look into ourselves as a school and community. Through our investigative work, a stronger foundation has been laid to shape our strategic plan for the coming years. The ISLA board and its committees are now more informed about our school and community’s perceived strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats.

Over the past few weeks, I’m proud to have witnessed the incredible responsiveness of our board in taking immediate action to address some of the weakness identified through this process: (1) compensation and benefits for our staff and (2) need for additional staff. Since these concerns surfaced, the board moved quickly to approve market adjustments to compensation as well as approve the investment in a new full-time media specialist to start in the fall.

ISLA has become an admired destination for both students and teachers in our community and we should all be proud of that.  The school was started by a small group of people that worked tirelessly to build ISLA into one of the most successful charter schools in Minnesota.  Sustaining the excellent education and community that makes ISLA special will take a collective and continued effort by all families. It is imperative that the tradition of volunteering across our classrooms, cafeteria, PTO, fiesta, committees, and board continues and expands. These are the true efforts which strengthen our community and enrich the experience for our children, and we are too small of a school for only some families to contribute.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Given the potential drawbacks of the proposed merger, we believe that other options to expand on the partnership between ISLA and Hopkins should be explored before moving forward with a merger. If the board decides to proceed with the merger with Hopkins, they should be certain they are addressing the stated concerns identified by the ISLA’s staff and families.

As the task force’s work comes to a close, the ISLA board will go forward by focusing on addressing the challenges identified in the task force report, such as how to best address the need for an expanded facility. They will also be exploring some of the identified opportunities, such as attaining new grants, and expanding on our collaborative agreements with Hopkins and other partners.

To read the report our task force submitted to the ISLA board this week, click here:

ISLA Hopkins School District Proposal Task Force - Final Report (May 15, 2018)

Before ending this final message, I would like to say that it has been an honor doing this work on the board and community’s behalf. Furthermore, I absolutely could not have done it without these incredible people who made up our task force: Claudia Holzbauer (kindergarten teacher); Sarah Devers (6th grade teacher & ISLA parent); Jason Grais (ISLA parent); Chris Polston (PTO President & ISLA parent); Martin Hoff (Board Director & ISLA parent).

All the best,


Jaiah Kamara, ISLA Board Director