Department news

SPPS travel process, booking agency changing in 2016
Saint Paul Public Schools recently awarded its travel accommodation services contract to Egencia, LLC (an Expedia company). Egencia is a full-service travel agency that offers an online self-booking system tailored to the district's travel procedures.

Effective Jan. 15, all employees will be required to use Egencia for all business travel needs. Several changes and improvements will be made over the upcoming months including:

  • All travel bookings will take place online
  • Ability to book airfare and hotel to create your own itinerary
  • Alerts to traveler if an option is outside of SPPS travel procedures
  • Cost savings for SPPS from preferred hotel rates and discounts  

Employees who have traveled in recent years will be receiving an email within the next few weeks with Egencia login information and directions on how to create individual traveler profiles.

Employees who currently have travel authorization numbers, but have not booked travel yet, should book their travel with one of the district's old travel agencies, Direct Travel or Business Travel, by Jan. 10.   

For employees with pending travel authorizations for 2016, we appreciate your patience as we work through the transition and setup with Egencia. Travel authorization forms will be sent within the first weeks of January.

For assistance with outstanding requests or items, contact Mechelle Karels at 651-744-2192. Stay tuned for training dates and additional information.

SPPS Facilities now hiring Custodial Engineers
Saint Paul Public Schools Facilities Department is now hiring Custodial Engineers 1 and 2. Applicants must have a Class C Boilers License. Pay starts at $24.46 - $25.30 per hour, and benefits include professional development opportunities, paid vacation, and weekends and holidays at home.

Please share these openings with your networks. Interested applicants can apply at hr.spps.org.

iPad professional development opportunities available in 2016
Visit the Personalized Learning website for descriptions of upcoming iPad learning opportunities. Register for all courses through PDExpress.

Establishing a 1:1 iPad Environment
This course teaches staff the basics of using iPads. The courses take place during the school day. All SPPS licensed teaching staff are requested to attend. Teachers must request a sub and will receive recertification clock hours.

Course topics include: digital file sharing, classroom management, digital citizenship, the iPad Student Handbook and practical applications to teach students during the first weeks of using iPads in your classroom.

Upcoming courses:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 12
  • Thursday, Jan. 14
  • Wednesday, Jan. 20
  • Thursday, Jan. 21
  • Wednesday, Feb. 17
  • Tuesday, March 1

iPad Cafes
These monthly after-school sessions are geared toward the interests of participants. The Thursday, Jan. 7 session features Google Drive and Seesaw.

Other upcoming iPad Cafes sessions include:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 9: iMovie
  • Wednesday, Feb. 10: Garageband
  • Tuesday, Feb. 16: Google Drive
  • Tuesday, Feb. 23: Keynote
  • Wednesday, Feb. 24: Numbers
  • Monday, Feb 29: Pages
  • Thursday, March 3: iBooks Author

The Personalized Learning Resources for Teachers and Staff web page also includes many iPad materials, such as:

  • One-page guides on the SPPS core apps and a list of all the apps in Self Service
  • Links to lessons for setting up classroom iPad routines
  • Self-paced learning opportunities on iPad basics, Apps and Google Drive

Free staff yoga classes this month
Take advantage of free on-site staff yoga classes at Bridge View and Como Park Senior High School. This is a great way to reduce stress and develop healthy and sustainable self-care practices. If you attend all three classes in the series, it will count as a Wellness Program for the 2017 Health Care Savings.

To register please use the following links:

January series at Bridge View School

  • Class 1: Wednesday, Jan. 13, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
  • Class 2: Wednesday, Jan. 20, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
  • Class 3: Wednesday, Jan. 27, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

January series at Como Park Senior High School

  • Class 1: Thursday, Jan. 14, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
  • Class 2: Thursday, Jan. 21, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
  • Class 3: Thursday, Jan. 28, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Principals: Read the Office of Specialized Services January Newsletter
The January 2016 Office of Specialized Services Newsletter is available.

IT enables ‘Safe Search’ on Google
Due to a number of reports that students have been able to view inappropriate content, we have recently made some changes to how SPPS staff and students use the internet.

The previous internet content filters were working as designed, but the technology was limited. In order to block inappropriate content from search results, ‘Safe Search’ needed to be enabled on search engines.

Safe Search is now enabled on Google, and will soon be available on the search engine Bing. If you try to use most other search engines, you will receive an error message or be redirected to Google or Bing. We chose to redirect everyone to these popular search engines because we do not have the means to enforce Safe Search on other search engines.  

Some of these changes are already in effect. We hope to have all changes completed by the time students return from winter break.

Contact idrissa.davis@spps.org if you have additional questions.

Schoology Enterprise pilot underway at SPPS
The Office of Teaching and Learning started piloting the paid-version of Schoology Enterprise at Como Park Senior High, Johnson Senior High and Murray Middle School at the beginning of the second academic quarter.

Schoology is a user-friendly Learning Management System (LMS) that offers important teaching and learning resources in support of personalized learning. Over the past few years, staff and students in several schools have used the free and limited version of Schoology Basic. All secondary schools will have access to Schoology and will pilot the tool during second semester. This pilot comes after a planning year during which SPPS teachers and staff reviewed multiple learning management tools.

If you have any questions about the Schoology pilot, contact Megan Dols Klingel, Assistant Director of Teaching & Learning, at megan.dols@spps.org or 651-744-6344. For more information about Schoology, please click here.

New SPPS.org website update
Effective Dec. 30, 2015, the Office of Communications, Marketing and Development began hosting the district’s website on Blackboard. Beginning this month, CMD will begin migrating several school and department websites, and has already begun training staff at several of these sites. Staff at those sites will be notified when their migrations will occur.

Currently, only Saint Paul Public Schools staff can log into the new spps.org homepage, but logging in is strictly for editing access at this time. Eventually all staff, and students, will be able to log into the platform via student or staff ID numbers for viewing privileges of certain areas.

Overall, CMD has tried to maintain as familiar a feel in the design as possible. Throughout this relaunching process, however, you may notice some broken links or that your bookmarks no longer work. To help identify these, staff can submit a ticket here: http://www.spps.org/Page/16266. In many cases, users will just need to save new bookmarks for their most visited spps.org links, but in some higher-use cases, we can rebuild the bookmark as it was in the previous Content Management System.
 
Each school and department site does have a site administrator who works directly with CMD. If you have any questions about your site, please contact Troy Melhus, Digital Media Manager, at troy.melhus@spps.org.