Dr. Betty Jo Webb returned to assist the Minneapolis Public Schools board of education with setting priorities and improving governance at a special Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday. Previously, Webb led a six hour board retreat in January. The objective of her second meeting with the board was to help directors to prioritize the strategies within each of the four goals of the strategic plan approved by the school board last February. Interim Superintendent Rochelle Cox was present at the meeting, but Webb explained she had explicitly asked her not to speak with the board. Rather, she asked Cox to be there only to listen.

The exercise began by asking board members to place green stickers on each strategy they believed the district is currently doing well. Each goal currently has five strategies.

Directors were seated in three groups at tables in the meeting room. The groups were Directors Sonya Emerick, Fathia Feerayare, Ira Jourdain and Kim Ellison; Directors Collin Beachy and Lori Norvell, plus student representative Abdi Mohamed; Chair Sharon El-Amin, Director Abdul Abdi and Student Representative Halimah Abdullah. Each of the three groups were assigned one goal, and all groups were assigned the fourth goal, school and district climate. Director Cerrillo was absent from the meeting due to an injury.

For goal one, academic achievement, the directors indicated that the district still needs work on strategies two and five, which pertain to providing anti-racist and culturally sustaining curriculum and pedagogy, and magnet pathways.

Dr. Betty Jo Webb explains the objectives of the special committee of the whole meeting to board members. Screenshot by Melissa Whitler.

Goal two is student wellbeing. Directors identified strategies one and three as needing improvement. Strategy one concerns equitable access to mental health and counseling resources. Strategy three concerns social and emotional learning being integrated into classrooms and after school programs.

For goal three, effective staff, the directors identified strategy three, recruiting high quality educators of color, and strategy five, engaging parents to design and implement equitable HR practices.

The fourth goal is improving school and district climate. Directors identified strategy one, fully implementing the climate framework, and strategy four, student placement policies, as needing improvement.

Webb explained the next steps will be for the interim superintendent and administration to review the board’s feedback. Cox will then come back to the board with additional suggestions for the board to consider. This will happen some time after the district’s spring break, the first week of April.