Department news and announcements

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Personalized Learning update
This week, over 50 SPPS teachers joined the Personalized Learning team to share their feedback on the Learning Platform, which they have been testing over the last 30 days.

The Personalized Learning staff  hosted eight high-energy feedback sessions where participants identified their favorite features:

  • Student data profile
  • Teacher/student communication
  • Updates on student achievement, attendance, services, and family information in real time
  • Collaboration with peers
  • Resources for students who are absent

They also shared their wish list for future Learning Platform features. Their input from this fall’s trial is being analyzed and plays an important part in the development of this tool.

Timeline:

  • Spring 2014: Develop a new version of the platform that is customized for SPPS based on teacher feedback
  • Late spring 2014: Classroom testing with students will begin
  • Fall 2014: Full-scale pilot by volunteer secondary teachers at a limited number of sites
  • Spring 2015: Selected grade 9 science, social studies, English language arts, and math courses at all high schools will use the platform

As a reminder, the Learning Platform is one of three dimensions of our work in Personalized Learning. We are simultaneously developing professional development for all staff and improving access to technology.


IT Services to expand internet access for wireless devices
This week improvements to our IT infrastructure will allow wireless devices such as iPads, Chromebooks and smart phones to access YouTube, which was previously blocked.

This expansion is made possible because the voter-approved 2012 property tax referendum gave us funding to improve our internet speed. As the district moves toward a model of Personalized Learning, we are dedicating more resources to technology to meet the diverse needs of all students.

Despite these improvements, our internet connection continues to be a shared and limited resource. When you stream data such as music or video online, it uses more of our internet connection than non-streaming sites, and takes resources away from others. Overuse by one person could prevent a student in the next classroom from taking an important exam or doing valuable research. When accessing websites like YouTube from a regular computer or wireless device, keep in mind that you are affecting the academic experience of students across the district. That’s why some websites, like Pandora and Spotify, will still be blocked from all devices.

If you have any questions about these changes, please contact IT Services at 651-603-4357.


SPPS apparel available for purchase
This winter, SPPS employees will have the opportunity to purchase SPPS branded apparel. Visit www.companycasuals.com/spps to browse the store and purchase items.

The Saint Paul based Brown and Bigelow Company is offering the clothing at the lowest possible price and at the highest quality.

Orders placed on or before December 2 will be delivered to your school or site by December 20, 2013. Orders placed after December 2 will be delivered by January 6 and throughout the school year.

Note that apparel purchases are not required by SPPS leadership. Please contact Paul Adams at 651-767-8141 with questions.


Winter party for Special Education families
Families of children in Special Education birth-21 programs are invited to attend the December Special Education Family Group Winter Party. The party will include make-and-take craft activities, cookie decorating, games and dancing for the whole family. All ages and abilities are welcome to attend. Download the flyer and registration form.

  • Where: Bridge View School, 360 Colborne St.
  • When: Friday, December 6, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Registration: Families may register themselves or staff may register families by calling 651-767-3437, emailing jackie.kelly@spps.org or faxing registration forms to 651-221-1488.

The registration deadline is Tuesday, December 3. Requests for transportation and interpretation must be received by that day.


Pre-retirement planning
Human Resources is sponsoring a series of pre-retirement seminars in December 2013:

Session 1: Social security and public pension
Monday, December 16, from 4-6 p.m.
360 Colborne, Rooms A & B

Representatives from the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) and Saint Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund Association (SPTRFA) will provide information about the public pension plans of each group. Jim Czechowicz, public affairs specialist with the Social Security Administration, will also present important information on Social Security and Medicare.

Session 2: Retire with confidence
Wednesday, December 18, from 4-6 p.m.
360 Colborne, Rooms A & B

Presented by Daniel Rickett, President of Capital Street Financial Services. Check future editions of the Bridge for details.

Session 3: Benefits at SPPS
Thursday, December 19, from 3:30-5:30 p.m.
360 Colborne, Rooms A & B

Megan Jones Arko, SPPS benefits technician, will provide information on the school district’s personnel policies, retiree insurance benefits and severance program.

The seminars are open to all employees and their spouses; however, space is limited. Reservations will be taken on a first-come basis. Reserve your attendance to one or all of the seminars by emailing megan.jonesarko@spps.org before December 14. You will receive a confirmation email of your reservation. Please indicate your name, if a spouse will be attending, employee ID, title, and dates of attendance. Phone reservations will not be accepted.

Follow these steps if you are planning to retire soon:

  1. Call or visit your retirement fund association.
    1. Saint Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund Association (SPTRFA): 651-642-2550
    2. Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA): 651-296-7460
  2. Check your bargaining agreement contract to determine if you qualify for post-retirement insurance benefits.
  3. Attend a group retirement session to enroll in the retiree insurance before the end of May 2014 (dates are listed on Human Resources website).
  4. Submit your resignation form with Saint Paul Public Schools.