I want to welcome you to our school district -- ISD 2364, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, or "BBE". We have a lifelong learning (“from womb to tomb”) district with over 600 K-12 students spread across two schools and over 4000 residents in the district. We have district residents who live in Stearns, Pope, Swift and Kandiyohi counties. If you are a resident in our district, you are BBE!
We are located about 100 miles NW of the Twin Cities. Our district is on the western edge of the large and populous Stearns County in central Minnesota. We sit at the source of the expansive Crow River Watershed that feeds much of the waters for our region. We host a rich agricultural economy bolstered by some of the earliest use of commercial irrigation. We label ourselves the Bonanza Valley because of these practices.
We also have a strong and vibrant manufacturing base in our school district with over 600 people employed in our district in this career cluster. We value our agriculture and manufacturing roots so highly that our entire curriculum is under review and will debuted with a new name in the fall of 2019. This new secondary initiative is called “Jagways”. Jagways features three career pathways: Health & Human Services; Construction & Trades as well as Business & Entrepreneurship. All students will graduate with Capstones in their Jagways area by 2022. We recently received a $50,000 grant from the Wedum Foundation for our efforts with Jagways, a high school initiative that boosts our student skills in the trades areas.
The three cities form the backdrop of an area settled in the late 1800's by German and Norwegian settlers. Demographically, we do lack the diversity of some of our larger neighbors, but are benefited by a significant infusion of migrant workers during the summer months.
Brooten hosts our birth through 6th Grade facility and Belgrade hosts our 7th through 12th grades. Our students boast many accomplishments in academics, fine arts and interscholastic activities. Our district consistently performs significantly above state average in Reading and Math and around state average in Science. We have a graduation rate that is consistently in the mid-90%'s.
We are one of only 8 schools in Minnesota on the 4-Day school week and generally, we love it! The 4 Day Week has had no negative effect on achievement, but has helped our district fiscally and has been a great solution for our 350 square mile school district.
The benefits of going to a small school such as BBE can definitely outweigh some of the advantages of a larger school that may have more options. Having said that, we do have great options. We boast a number of college options taught right in the high school building connected to Ridgewater and Central Lakes colleges. We have a great Work Experience program that connects students to local industry. Our students are supported by over 70 Dollars for Scholars scholarships for our senior class. So, despite our smaller size, we use this as an advantage to know our students and to gain the flexibility to address personal needs.
Certainly, any talk about the 2020-2021 school year begins with the question, “Are we going to be going back to school this fall?” To that question, I can’t answer this yet. We will get more clarification from our state and Governor later this month. Our position is that we will do whatever we can to get students into our building as much as possible, and as safely as possible. It is a very important element to our society to have our students back with regular attendance. Finally, we have to support a full range of opinions that sometimes conflict. It’s not a fight between opposing views. Our solution will only be the best thing we can do to educate as many students as we can, and that parents will allow. More information will follow this month. Please be patient as we navigate a very difficult and new topic.
Moving on. We were given a $25,000 Bush School Redesign to promote this personalized learning in the district. We are continuing with that pilot this year in the high school and hope to continue our rise as a key academic leader in providing a 21st century school predicated on creativity, collaborative, critical thinking and communication. Our students are 1-1 with technology in all grades. Our motto for this initiative is “Up Close and Personal” as we know that the only way to help our individual students in the best manner is to know them and customize our educational approach to be both personal and individually responsive.
Our elementary school in Brooten is also quite a place. In addition to the 1:1 technology initiative and high test scores, we also have built major supports with Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) and Response to Intervention (RtI). These programs allow us to maximize the child’s future and add to the successful portrait you see in the district.
Our Jaguar Kids Connection (JKC) is a 4-Star Parent-Aware rated educational program that runs 12 months a year and provides infant to school-age education. We cooperate with the Tri-Valley Opportunity Council to bring migrant education programs to the district. Overall, this is an impressive commitment by our School Board and Community Education program to create the full realm of education for all residents.
All the things you've heard about BBE are true. Our Jaguar Pride initiative (check out the link to this) is maturing into a mindset and character that shapes our school culture in every way. We have a very personable, dedicated and innovative staff. Our students are incredibly kind and respectful at home, in their community and in competition. Our communities form a network of great support for our students and district. You can literally feel this human presence when you step foot into our district. You will see visible passion, bold commitment and excellence.
For everyone returning to school this Fall, congratulations and welcome back! Collectively, you have created all of the things I am speaking about. You have created the bonds with each other and to the district that people on our outskirts envy. You have built the foundation that we hope to improve by small increments every day. You have postured our district to get even better on a continual basis. Thank you for your efforts!
If you are considering enrollment at BBE, I think you'd make a fine choice. The education is very solid; the buildings and finances are kept in great shape by our staff and School Board. Our community participates in our education and our students participate in our community.
This past November, we passed three votes, all at over 70% favorable. The first vote was a Levy Referendum that will supply $1400 per pupil for the next ten years. The second and third votes were passed to support $20 million in building bond questions that will remodel our district for 21st Century education. We’d like to thank our community for that support!
If you have any questions regarding BBE school district, our programs or potential enrollment, always feel free to step up and talk to me in public or contact me directly, preferably via email. I look forward to the 2020-21 school year. All in all, our staff is going to have an attitude of, “Every student. Every day. Any way.” This is our guarantee!
Patrick Walsh, Superintendent