Department News

SPPS presents start times top recommendation to Board of Education
SPPS leaders presented their leading recommendation to keep current school start times for the 2016-17 school year. SPPS also presented two alternative options to the Board of Education at the Oct. 6 Committee of the Board meeting. SPPS would like to continue working with Metro Transit for a possible expansion to other schools in the future.

New Vision Plan offered through EyeMed for SPPS staff
SPPS will be offering a new Vision Plan through EyeMed for all benefit-eligible employees. EyeMed's vision benefit can save money on eyeglasses, contact lenses, laser vision correction and other vision care purchases, such as sunglasses.

The vision exam will continue to be a part of the HealthPartners medical plan, and will not be covered by EyeMed. To participate in EyeMed’s Vision Plan you must enroll online during health insurance open enrollment, which runs Oct. 23 through Nov. 6. Coverage for EyeMed’s Vision Plan begins Jan. 1.

Two elementary schools at SPPS piloting Dancing Classrooms
Four Seasons A+ Elementary and Benjamin E. Mays IB World School are two of four schools piloting Dancing Classrooms, an international program that teaches ballroom dance. The Dancing Classrooms, which debuted this fall in Minnesota, will serve more than 250 fifth-grade students in 11 classrooms across the Twin Cities.

Dancing Classrooms, as seen in the award-winning documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, has a 20-year history of helping students overcome social anxieties, develop gender respect, and increase social skills, self-confidence, and awareness of other cultures, all while engaging in physical activity. Internationally, the program serves more than 500,000 students in 24 states and five countries.

Heart of Dance, a Minnesota nonprofit founded by Ember Reichgott Junge and Andrea Mirenda, has been granted rights to become the 30th international site for Dancing Classrooms. The 10-week residency in Minnesota includes 11 fifth-grade classrooms, with the program including two classes per week and ending with a final inter-school Colors of the Rainbow Team Match on Dec. 13.

The following schools are participating in the Dancing Classrooms pilot this fall:

  • Benjamin E. Mays IB World School in Saint Paul
  • Four Seasons A+ Elementary School in Saint Paul
  • Friendship Academy of the Arts in Minneapolis
  • Athlos Leadership Academy in Brooklyn Park

Equity in the Classrooms training series begins Oct. 26
Are you looking for ways to integrate equity tools in your work with students? Compass 4 Kids is a five-part series that will engage, deepen and sustain conversations and learning around using The Compass with students.

Elementary building teams are invited to apply to Cohort I, which begins Monday, Oct. 26.

Please apply by Wednesday, Oct. 21. One in-service credit is available upon completion of the course. If you have questions, contact the Multicultural Resource Center at or by phone at 651-744-2635.

Applications for Educational Benefits/Free or Reduced Price Meals due Oct. 21
Students who are not directly certified for free lunches or haven’t submitted a complete application for Educational Benefits/Free or Reduced Price Meals this school year will change to Full Pay status on Wednesday, Oct. 21. This may result in negative account balances at non-Community Eligibility Provision (non-CEP) schools.

Even though students who attend CEP schools receive lunch at no charge, it is still critical that applications for Educational Benefits/Free or Reduced Price Meals are completed and submitted as these applications also are used to determine Compensatory Revenue.

To date, more than 18,800 students have been directly certified for free meals. In addition, Nutrition Services has processed more than 6,000 applications.

Parents can complete applications online at or submit a paper copy. If your main office needs additional paper copies, you can request them from your Nutrition Services Cafeteria Supervisor. Reports and labels of students that are not directly certified, and do not have a completed application on file, can be run in Campus.

If you are eligible to use the Free and Reduced website, you will see a FRAM link on the left side of the Campus home screen. Under FRAM, click on “Elig Reports & Labels.” Eligibility statuses of TF (temporary free), TR (temporary reduced), TP (temporary paid) and N (current application needed) means that the student is NOT directly certified and Nutrition Services has NOT received an application for that student yet.

As a reminder, students enrolled in your school who complete applications through early December will be included in the final December MARSS report submitted to MDE, which will be used to calculate Compensatory Revenue amounts for your school for the 2016-2017 school year.

Annual Open Enrollment dates announced
Open Enrollment for benefits will be Friday, Oct. 23, through Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 for the 2016 plan year. The benefits will take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Visit with benefit vendors and have your questions answered during the second annual Health Fair from 3-6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 360 Colborne.

More information about this year’s open enrollment and 2016 benefits will be available in the coming weeks in The Bridge.

Staff: Attend pre-retirement seminars in October
If you’re considering retirement, SPPS Human Resources is sponsoring a series of pre-retirement seminars in October.

The seminars consist of five different sessions listed at the following link:

These seminars are open to all employees and their spouses; however, space is limited and reservations will be taken in the order they are received. Email to reserve a spot at one or all of the seminars.

Please indicate your name, if a spouse will be attending, employee ID, title and dates you wish to attend. Phone reservations will not be accepted. You will receive a confirmation email with your reservation. Phone reservations will not be accepted.

Monthly Health Observance: Avoid colds and the flu
It is easy to get sick. By following a few simple guidelines, you can limit your exposure and stay well this winter. Take steps to avoid colds and the flu.

Online coaching for stress management
Virtual coaching on offers you the option to learn about and manage your stress. The program consists of three online sessions that will help you learn more about how stress is affecting you and provide guidance on developing techniques to manage your stress.

If you complete all three sessions by Friday, Oct. 23, this will count as your wellness program for your 2016 Health Care Savings.