Department news

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 Dance 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

Updates from Transportation Department
SPPS Transportation staff has conducted school bus safety meetings at all elementary schools, with the exception of a few make-up dates. The meetings have been attended by school bus drivers, school administrators and transportation staff. The transportation department also has completed all state-mandated bus evacuation drills.

School bus safety classes resume
School bus safety classes resumed on Oct. 17. In lieu of school bus consequences, students and parents/guardians are required to attend these classes. Administrators must register students for the class. 

To register for class, visit transportation.spps.org and navigate to the "Bus Safety Class" tab. Classes will be held on Saturday, Oct. 31, Saturday, Nov. 14, and Saturday, Dec. 5, from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at 360 Colborne.

Enter student referral forms in Campus
The Transportation Department receives copies of all school bus referrals and verifies that the referrals have been entered into Campus. However, a majority of these reports are not entered in Campus. In order to compile accurate data on bus referrals, it is vital to enter the reports in Campus.

If you have any questions, please contact Thomas Saunders at thomas.saunders@spps.org.

Equity in the Classroom 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 mrc@spps.org 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 https://mealapp.spps.org/ 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 who 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 begins Oct. 23
Open Enrollment for benefits will be Friday, Oct. 23 through Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 for the 2016 plan year. The benefits take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

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

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 megan.jonessarko@spps.org 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.

Attend the Health Benefits Fair on Thursday, Oct. 22
Join your colleagues at the Health and Benefits Fair, where you can learn more about your health benefits through Saint Paul Public Schools. Attend the fair 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 360 Colborne

Staff can participate in breakout sessions on:

  • Healthy Thinking to Build Resiliency
  • Sandwich Generation: Caring for your parents and your children
  • Healthy Cooking: Cooking demo and presentation
  • Utilizing Your HealthPartners Benefits in the Mobile World

The following vendors will be participating:

  • Retirement:
  • Minnesota Deferred Comp
  • Fidelity
  • Voya

Health Partners

  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Wellness

Employee Assistance Program

  • The Sand Creek Group

By attending the Health and Benefits Fair, you’ll be entered into drawings for several great prizes. The benefits fair will be a great opportunity to ask questions and learn more about your 2016 health benefits before open enrollment starts Friday, Oct. 23. .

Earn 2016 Health Care Savings at Health and Benefits Fair
The Wellness Initiative deadline is Friday, October 23. The Health and Benefits Fair will be the final opportunity to earn your 2016 Health Care Savings.

HealthPartners staff will be on-site to help you access the wellbeing page and complete your online health assessment.

You also will have the opportunity to complete your wellness program by attending the Health and Benefits Fair. If you attend the Fair you will need to complete three steps for it to count as your wellness program:

  1. Attend at least one breakout session
  2. Visit the vendor fair
  3. Blood pressure check or receive flu shot

Passports will be provided at the Fair. By attending various sessions and getting your passport stamped you can complete your wellness program.

Free on-site yoga at Battle Creek Elementary, Washington Tech
Take advantage of the Free On-site Yoga being offered to staff this fall. Reduce stress and develop healthy and sustainable self-care practices by attending free yoga at Battle Creek Elementary and Washington Technology Magnet. The three-class series is led by a Saint Paul yoga company.

During the sessions you’ll:

  • Explore mindfulness, self-reflection and intention-setting through yoga-based movement.
  • Discover breathing techniques to lower heart rate, reduce stress and increase lung capacity.
  • Use yoga-based movement to deepen your connection to yourself, while increasing your strength, flexibility and stamina.

No yoga experience or special equipment is necessary. Each class builds on your learning from the previous class. Last year, staff who attended classes enjoyed the teaching style of their instructor, and more than 90 percent continue to use techniques they learned in class to help manage stress.

November series at Battle Creek Elementary

  • Class one: 4:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4
  • Class two: 4:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11
  • Class three: 4:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18

November series at Washington Technology Magnet

  • Class one: 3:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5
  • Class two: 3:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12
  • Class three: 3:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19

Bounce Back! Cultivating Personal Resilience
Staff will have the opportunity to learn about and improve their resiliency at a new workshop this fall. Resilience is the ability to adapt and recover quickly after a hardship has taken place. Whether it’s large or small, a resilient person is better able to sustain physical and psychological health when faced with life’s inevitable challenges.

The Sand Creek Group Employee Assistance program is proud to partner with Saint Paul Public Schools to offer this engaging presentation on resilience in a three-part series designed to help people enhance their natural resilience, making them less likely to develop problems with depression and other chronic diseases associated with stress.

November workshop at Hubbs Center

  • Class one: 3:30-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3
  • Class two: 3:30-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10
  • Class three: 3:30-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17