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New Superintendent Theresa Battle brings wealth of experience 2019July 18, 2019 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek news reports:

New superintendent brings wealth of experience- by John Gessner July 18, 2019

Challenges ahead include school-closing recommendation

Theresa Battle has been busy checking boxes in her opening days as superintendent of Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191.

She joined Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, Police Chief Tanya Schwartz and others for a July 8 “Today” show interview about the city’s abundance of female leaders.

July 12 included a visit to Burnsville High School, her eighth school visit, and coffee with Principal Dave Helke at Jo Jo’s Rise & Wine in the Heart of the City.

Battle has visited all three schools in Savage, getting a crash course in local history from Marion W. Savage Elementary Principal Renee Brandner.

“And Dan Patch — I had no idea,” Battle said, referring to the early 20th century superstar pacing horse stabled in Savage by owner Marion W. Savage. “We all know Dan Patch from the State Fair, and that’s us! I’m very thrilled to be a part of all three communities.”

Even before her official July 1 start date, the former St. Paul school administrator launched a 100-day plan that included consultation with outgoing Superintendent Cindy Amoroso, who retired.

Battle’s acclimation period has included some serious business around school closings. The School Board received a consultant’s report July 8 recommending that after 15 years of declining enrollment and with more ahead, the district close two elementary schools and one middle school after the 2019-20 school year. Boundary changes would accompany the closings.

“You’re not just talking bricks and mortar,” Battle said in a July 12 interview. “You’re talking children and families and memories, so that’s the first approach. ... We just received this, so we’re still trying to make sense of it. Part of my listening and connecting is that information-gathering.”

Raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Battle began her career in 1985 as a junior high teacher in Hampton, Virginia.

She worked for the St. Paul Public Schools for 28 years over two tenures, serving as a classroom teacher; special education facilitator; assistant principal; assistant director for curriculum, development and instruction; principal; and assistant superintendent. Battle has also been an assistant superintendent in Minneapolis and interim assistant superintendent in Osseo.

She left St. Paul as an assistant superintendent in charge of 14 secondary schools.

“Very similar in size to Burnsville-Eagan-Savage,” Battle said.

She graduated from Hampton University with a bachelor of science in special education and received her doctorate of education from the University of Minnesota. Outside of work, the Maplewood resident is a member of St. Peter Claver Church, serves on the Greater Twin Cities YMCA Mission Impact board, is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and supports the PROCEED annual tour of historically black colleges and universities.

“Dr. Battle is bringing a breadth and depth of knowledge along with a love of students,” Wendy Drugge, president of teachers union the Burnsville Education Association, said in an email. “We are very much looking forward to her leadership and partnering with her.”

The final phase of her 100-day plan is leading, Battle said.

“Because we need to get ready for the 8,300 students returning after Labor Day,” she said. “We have 1,300 staff returning the week of Aug. 26.”

Battle said she has “seven bosses now,” referring to the School Board members who signed her to a three-year contract.

“But I will still be connected to students, because that’s the focus of our work,” she said. “Our core business is learning and teaching. ... Right now, at least two days a week, I will be visiting schools. And I hope what I’ve started this week and will continue with next week, visiting with every principal and getting out to every school, will be the model for the rest of the year.”

For an academic snapshot, Battle pointed to the district’s 2017-18 scorecard on Minnesota’s Worlds Best Workforce metrics.

“We need more of our students ready for kindergarten,” she said, noting that the percentage dropped from 41.6 percent in 2016-17 to 38.1 percent in 2017-18.

District results on the ACT college entrance exam are “pretty similar to the state,” Battle said. The 2017 Burnsville High School graduate rate of students attending all four years is “good” at 85.5 percent, she said.

“However, you have to look at the story behind the numbers and disaggregate” to find and target achievement gaps between subgroups, Battle said.

“Unfortunately, on too many of the metrics, our black students are not achieving as we know they should. You have to understand, sometimes the assessments don’t always show the brilliance of our kids. That’s why we have to look at multiple assessments.”

The district’s continued net outflow of students was noted in the board-commissioned report by consultant Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors. People interviewed for the report “expressed that a combination of the reputation of the school district’s middle schools and high school and changing demographics of the communities/student population” have exacerbated the exodus.

“Humans build systems that are imperfect,” Battle said. “I’m not sure why people think that the things we built are going to be perfect when we’re not perfect. But it’s really, What are you going to do about it? How do you engage people?”

She said she understands that “perception is reality.”

“We need to keep giving information and have others share our story, especially our students,” Battle said, adding that she hopes the district’s youth will be “better off when I leave than when I started. That’s my goal. You always want to touch people.”
Jul 21, 2019
Cindy Amoroso completes two eventful years as superintendent 2019July 3, 2019 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News reports:

Amoroso completes two eventful years as superintendent

by John Gessner Jul 3, 2019

‘Great things happening’ in District 191

Teacher unrest, social media headaches and budget cuts came with Cindy Amoroso’s two-year tour of duty as superintendent of School District 191.

But the self-described “off-the-chart extrovert” isn’t dwelling on unpleasantries as she contemplates what she’ll miss in retirement.

She expects to wake up brimming with ideas for the welcome-back staff workshops in August. Even a random mention of third grade reading scores had Amoroso peering ahead during an interview.

“I will be watching what our scores are when they come out in the fall, even though I won’t be in the district anymore,” she said, reviewing a finding that 48.8 percent of third graders met reading proficiency on spring tests in 2018, three points better than the district’s goal. “Because our teachers have worked so hard the last two years with our literacy framework, and I’ll really be anxious to see how that works out, on this one in particular.”

Amoroso retired June 30 when her two-year contract ended; she is replaced by Theresa Battle, a former assistant superintendent in St. Paul.

Amoroso was curriculum and instruction director in Mankato, where the former English teacher spent most of her career, when she applied for the job of assistant superintendent in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage in 2013. She was hired by then-new Superintendent Joe Gothard and agreed to the School Board’s request to serve the two years left on his contract when he was hired as St. Paul superintendent in 2017.

In her one performance review as superintendent, the board praised Amoroso’s “accomplished leadership” — particularly for continued progress on the district’s Vision One91 redesign plan and for a successful 2017 levy referendum.

Assessing the district’s academic trajectory in recent years, Amoroso took a page from Minnesota first lady Gwen Walz, the former assessment coordinator for Mankato schools and a guest speaker at Amoroso’s farewell ceremony last month.

“What Gwen always taught us to say is, ‘This is going in the right direction,’ ” she said. District 191’s racially and economically diverse student body tends to lag state averages on Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores by grade level and subject, but Amoroso said some student subgroups in some subject and age groups score better than their state peers.

“What I find more compelling with data is the story around the data,” she said. “What’s happening with this? What else is going on? When you break this down into smaller groups of students, what are we seeing happening with smaller groups or at certain grade levels or certain buildings? Data always tells a story.”

She warned against stereotypes around what particular student groups can achieve.

“We need to have rigorous expectations for all of our students, because they can meet those rigorous expectations,” Amoroso said. “Some may need more support than others. But every one of our students deserves us having those rigorous expectations of them, because they can meet them.”

In addition to the district’s headline achievements since she arrived — the Burnsville High School expansion and other Vision One91 building improvements, grade reconfiguration and a technology levy — Gothard and Amoroso presided over an expansion of “wrap-around” supports for students’ social and emotional health.

Elementary school social workers were added, school psychologists were more integrated into the elementary schools, people of African American and Native American descents were added to the cultural liaison ranks, and more Somali and Latino liaisons were added, Amoroso said.

“Every district is experiencing the need for those mental health, social-emotional supports,” she said. “It applies to all of our students, it applies to all of our families, regardless of socioeconomics, regardless of race or ethnicity, regardless of where they live in the community or the school district.”

Amoroso was buoyed by her first look at results from the latest Minnesota Student Survey, which she said show a very high percentage of District 191 students report feeling safe and unbullied in school.

“It totally contradicts what the bad messages are that are out in the community about how violent our schools are,” she said. “Our schools aren’t violent. Our schools are safe.”

Amoroso admits to taking slights against the district personally.

“It’s hard not to, especially when some people intentionally make them personal,” she said. “When I see something out on social media that someone has said about our students and our schools, it is just so discouraging and disheartening when you know, on a daily basis, the great things that are happening in the schools.

“I see them. I’m in classrooms. I’m talking to kids. I stand in the hallway at the high school during passing time. I know what’s going on in the buildings, and I’m just very proud of our students and staff.”

Negotiations on a two-year teacher contract turned bitter in 2018 over an impasse in procedures for handling unrequested leaves of absence. Departing from a strict “last in, first out” seniority system, the district and its teachers union, the Burnsville Education Association, agreed on a sequence of criteria that included seniority but also layoff protections for teachers in some “priority” programs.

The district wanted to add language allowing teachers who had a disciplinary action in the previous five years to be laid off ahead of others, regardless of seniority. The union objected, and prevailed, with the district dropping its language a year after negotiations had begun and after teachers had marched in the street.

The message many union members got was that the district wanted a way to dump its highest-paid teachers in the event of layoff-forcing budget cuts of tenured staff, Amoroso said.

“It absolutely had nothing to do with budget,” she insisted. “It had to do with keeping our best teachers for our students.”

Asked for comment on Amoroso’s tenure, union President Wendy Drugge said: “I would like to thank Cindy for her years of service to the district, and I’d like to wish her well in retirement.”

Some comments on the “Friends of Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Educators” Facebook page that launched during the standoff and is still active have hurt the district’s image, Amoroso said. Newly approved budget cuts for 2019-20 totaling $6.57 million caused dissension in 2019.

Amoroso leaves at a time when the district still faces chronic enrollment decline marked by more district families enrolling outside the district than outsiders enrolling in.

“This is the life of a suburb, in some respects,” Amoroso said, pointing to similar cycles in Roseville, Robbinsdale and Richfield, which she said are now rebounding.

“We may continue to drop, but we’re going to hit a point, and then we’re going to become the district that does a great job of meeting the needs of that population, and it’ll come back up,” said Amoroso, who lives in Lakeville with husband, Gary, a former Lakeville superintendent and executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. “I really, firmly believe that.”
Jul 05, 2019
Superintendent Hugh Holloway 1967 - 1975Hugh Holloway, Superintendent.May 14, 2019
Robert Tschirki 1975 - 1981Superintendent Robert Tschirki 1976.May 14, 2019
Board approves three year contract with new superintendent. 2019.May 3, 2019 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News: Board approves three year contract with Theresa Battle, as new superintendent.May 07, 2019
Dr. Theodore Foot 1981 - 1986Superintendent Theodore Foot.May 01, 2019
Dr. Robert Tschirki 1975 - 1981Superintendent Robert Tschirki.May 01, 2019
Introducing Superintendent Joe GothardApril 19, 2013 Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on the selection of Joe Gothard as the new superintendent.Apr 28, 2019
Ben Kanninen is 2005 Superintendent of the yearThe Minnesota Association of School Administrators has named Dr. Ben Kanninen, Superintendent of School District 191, as the 2005 Minnesota Superintendent of the Year...Apr 28, 2019
Theodore Foot to take superintendent job in New York 1986August 12, 1986 Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that School District 191's Superintendent Theodore Foot has accepted a job in upstate New York....He has been in Burnsville almost five years...Apr 28, 2019
Burnsville school district selects Michigan woman as superintendent 1987March 27, 1987 Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Sally Bell was named Superintendent of School District 191 replacing Theodore Foot who left in November to become Superintendent in New York...Apr 28, 2019
Burnsville's school chief Sally Bell works toward goal of being best 1987Minneapolis Star Tribune - July 30, 1987 features Sally Bell, School District 191's first woman superintendent...Apr 28, 2019
Superintendent Ben Kanninen retiring 2007St. Paul Pioneer Press - November 29, 2007 reports on the upcoming retirement of Superintendent Ben Kanninen, who joined District 191 in 1998.Apr 28, 2019
Oliver Bakken 1966 acting SuperintendentPage 43 - Acting Superintendent Oliver Bakken.Apr 27, 2019
Theresa Battle 2019April, 2019 Theresa Battle selected as Independent School District 191's next superintendent.Apr 25, 2019
Randy Clegg 2008 - 2013Superintendent 2008 - 2013.Apr 23, 2019
Burnsville school chief Randy Clegg retiring 2012September 17, 2012 Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on the retirement of Randy Clegg.

Burnsville school chief retires
Randy Clegg is leaving at the end of the school year. He has come under criticism, most recently in a lukewarm job review this month.
By HERÓN MÁRQUEZ ESTRADA Star Tribune- September 17, 2012 —

After receiving a less-than-flattering job review from the school board this month, Burnsville Superintendent Randy Clegg announced his retirement on Monday.

Clegg, who took over the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District in 2008, said in a notice that he will leave his post at the end of the school year on June 30, 2013.

The announcement comes about a week after the job review concluding that Clegg had failed to meet three of seven standards for such things as ethics, management, vision and goal achievement. The board did not specify publicly which standards Clegg failed to meet.

In reviews in the previous two years, he'd been given a passing grade on all seven standards.

This year, Clegg came under criticism in the aftermath of the district's $255,000 payout to former human resources director Tania Z. Chance. Before signing the separation agreement that included the payout, Chance had filed complaints with two state groups, including at least one against Clegg. The nature of the complaint has never been publicly disclosed.

The agreement and Clegg's future figured to be an issue in this fall's school board elections, in which four incumbents, including chairman Ron Hill, are seeking another term.

Last week, several of the challengers said they would either not reappoint Clegg or take a more critical view of his tenure if they were elected.

The district said that Clegg has a 35-year career in public education, including 28 years as a superintendent. He began in District 191 on July 1, 2008, after serving as superintendent in Clinton, Iowa, for 12 years.

"On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to thank Dr. Clegg for his years of service to the students and our community," Hill said in a statement.

Clegg, 56, in the statement posted on the district website, said that it was a difficult decision, but he felt it was the right time to retire. He said he chose to make the announcement now to give the school board time to search for his replacement.

"I've had the privilege of working with incredibly talented principals, teachers and staff in District 191 and I'm very proud of what we've accomplished together with the board over the past four years," he said.

Clegg has helped develop a strategic road map for the district and has overseen the addition of new magnet schools, curriculum improvements, free full-day kindergarten and the updating of 17 school buildings.
Apr 23, 2019
Benjamin Kanninen Superintendent Benjamin Kanninen was Superintendent when his message appeared in the 1998 - 1999 Independent School District 191's report to the Community.Apr 03, 2019
Superintendent Dr. Sally Bell's report to the communityThe 1988 - 1989 Superintendent's Message from Dr. Sally Bell appearing in the annual report to the community.Apr 03, 2019
Dr. Sally Bell 1987 -1990Dr. Sally Bell, Superintendent of School District 191 from 1987 - 1990. She was the fifth.Apr 03, 2019
Burnsville begins quest for new superintendent 1981March 26, 1981 Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that following Tashirki's resignation, the School Board begins plans to find replacement.Sep 25, 2018
Cindy Amoroso 2017 - 2019Cindy Amoroso became School District 191 Superintendent in 2017. Photo compliments of the School District.Sep 02, 2018
Joseph Gothard 2013 - 2017Joseph Gothard, District 191 Superintendent 2013 - 2017. Photo compliments of School District 191.Sep 02, 2018
Dr. Hugh Holloway 1967 - 1975Superintendent Dr. Hugh H. Holloway - 1968 Year Book photo.Jul 28, 2018
John Metcalf 1955 - 1966Photo 1961 John Albert Metcalf of Shakopee.
Superintendent of Burnsville Schools 1955- 1966 and State legislator 1967-1971.
Metcalf school named in his honor.
Feb 20, 2018
Dr. Robert Tschirki 1975 - 1981Robert Tschirki was superintendent May 18,1977 Burnsville Current photo.Oct 27, 2017
Interim superintendent (Amoroso) brings enthusiasm, experience to Burnsville-Eagan-Savage schools 2017The Savage Pacer - August 3, 2017 interviews interim superintendent Cindy Amoroso as a new school year begins. For the past four years she has been the assistant superintendent in District 191 where she worked alongside Joe Gothard, who left the District to lead St. Paul Public Schools.Aug 07, 2017
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