Presenting ideas

Joshua Scharnberg and Mindy Christianson addressed the Fergus Falls School Board Monday on the Rural Racial Equity Summit held Jan. 20 in Fergus Falls.

Kennedy Secondary English instructors Mindy Christianson and Joshua Scharnberg took the floor Monday to give the Fergus Falls School Board a review of what they felt came out of the Rural Racial Equity Summit.

Held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January on the M State Fergus Falls campus, the summit looked at how the people and businesses of Otter Tail County could foster both inclusivity and foster opportunities for all races to thrive and flourish. 

Among the distinguished keynote speakers at the event were Minnesota State Attorney General Keith Ellison, North Dakota state Rep. Ruth Buffalo and Kasim Abdur Razzaq, the CEO of Abdur Razzaq Counseling and Social Architecture.

Christianson and Scharnberg talked about the message each of the speakers presented along with other highlights like the Equity Faith Panel given by Prairie Rose Seminole and an Adaptive Mindset Workshop. 

“I think one thing that came out from the day overall, from all the speakers, was the idea of respect,” Scharnberg said.

Some of the next steps for the board to consider are:

• Consider taking the Intercultural Development Inventory as a school board.

• Look at District 544 data for inequities.

• Work on hiring a more diverse staff.

Some of the opportunities being presented in the future by the 544 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee include:

• An Otter Tail Family Services Collaborative Equity and Support Work Group organized by Troy Haugen at LCSC March 2 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dr. Anton Treuer will be giving a presentation on Native American historical trauma. 

• A Fergus Falls Public Library social justice book club will be starting March 18.

• The DEI Community of Practice meetings on Wednesdays beginning Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. from 10 a.m. to noon. 

• Create meaningful friendships. 

The Fergus Falls School Board got a pat on the back with Superintendent Jeff Drake announcing School Board Recognition Week.

The board also passed three items of new business including a resolution of thanks on the retirement food service staff member Heidi Schafer, the 2019-20 mission, values, motto and belief statement and adding a special education paraprofessional position at the Heritage Building.

Personnel changes approved by general consent include a certified staff overload contract for Jenn Roos, a FACS teacher at the Alternative Learning Center and the support staff hires of Evan Hart, who will work as a custodian at Kennedy and Jodi Johnson, who will work at a cook and server at Kennedy Secondary School.

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