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Message from the Superintendent: May 7, 2021

Message from the Superintendent

May 7, 2021

Staff Meetings, Retirements and Employee Recognition

Spring is an exciting time within our schools and communities, and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our staff. Throughout May, I will be visiting schools to provide District updates, honoring retirees, and recognizing “Employees of the Year!” Despite the challenges over the last year within schools, communities, and the nation, ISD 728 continues to thrive and have so much to celebrate. Thank you for letting me serve as your superintendent and for being part of this team.


School Board Funds and Awards Student Scholarships

The ISD 728 School Board continues to model servant leadership, and to lead by example. Most recently, Board members donated their own money to fund three (3) student scholarships. The Scholarship Committee selected three candidates for $1,000 scholarships (see below). One who will attend a four year institution, one a trade school, and one who was considered a “fan favorite.” All three candidates have had impressive journeys in ISD 728, make a habit of serving others, and have overcome some challenges over time. Great choices! They will be honored at the June 14, 2021 Board meeting and at their school’s Scholarship Event.

  • Lucie Thompson
  • Harrison Simmonds
  • Bjorn Franke

We are proud of our School Board and appreciate their continued focus on our students, families, staff, and communities. Thank you!


Heitkamp Selected as National Magnet School Teacher of the Year

Magnet Schools of America (MSA) announced at the digital MSA Conference that Megan Heitkamp, science teacher at Salk Stem Middle School in Elk River, was selected as the National Magnet Schools of America Teacher of the Year! We are grateful for Megan and our entire ISD 728 team for their continued great work! Kids Win! Congratulations!


A story about Megan - who represented the Upper Midwest at the National Conference - can be found on our website.


You can also watch Megan receive the award courtesy of the MSA virtual conference on YouTube.


Eisenschenk Selected as Minnesota’s School Business Official of the Year

Kim Eisenschenk was selected Minnesota’s School Business Official of the Year. This Award recognizes the outstanding practices and new ideas of Minnesota school business officials. Individuals are evaluated based upon their contributions to their districts, their communities and to the profession. Kim was recognized today at the MASBO Annual Conference, and will receive a $2000 scholarship to be awarded in ISD 728. Congratulations to Kim, we are proud to serve with her. An official press release is coming soon.


All Three ISD 728 Traditional High Schools Earn Spot on U.S. News Rankings

ISD 728’s traditional high schools - Elk River, Zimmerman and Rogers - each earned a spot on the U.S. News and World Report’s Best U.S. High School Rankings list for 2021.


The U.S. News Best High Schools rankings include data on nearly 24,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Nearly 18,000 schools are ranked on six factors based on their performance, including state assessments and how well they prepare students for college.


This is outstanding news for our schools and our families. Our students are used to achieving at high levels, and have maintained that top performance during these unprecedented times. It’s a testament to them, and to our staff, that they’ve earned this recognition through hard work and innovation.


This recognition puts all three high schools in the top third of all ranked high schools in the country, according to U.S. News’ criteria, and in the top 25 percent overall.


Information about ISD 728’s programs, academic achievement and curriculum can be found via the annual World’s Best Workforce report on the District’s website.


Assistant Superintendent Selected - Update

kari rockI am pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Kari Rock for the position of Assistant Superintendent with ISD 728. She will succeed Dr. Hennen-Burr, who announced her retirement earlier this spring. The appointment will be brought to the ISD 728 School Board for approval on May 10, 2021. Kari comes to ISD 728 with a wealth of experiences as a District Leader in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, a Middle and Elementary Principal and teacher. She is currently the Director of Elementary Schools with Anoka-Hennepin and has an extensive background in curriculum, interventions and title programs. Kari is also a resident of Elk River with children attending ISD 728 schools. We look forward to Kari joining our team and Cabinet on July 1, 2021.


Hassan Elementary School Principal Selected

La TonyaISD 728 is proud to announce that after a search and series of interviews, it has chosen California elementary school Principal La Tonya Cruthird to lead Hassan Elementary starting in 2021-2022.


La Tonya will succeed Heidi Adamson-Baer, who announced her retirement earlier this spring after leading Hassan for more than a decade. La Tonya is an accomplished educator and leader, currently serving as the Principal at Cooper Elementary School in Vacaville Unified School District, California. Vacaville is a city of about 100,000 residents in California in between the state capital of Sacramento and the Bay Area. La Tonya will relocate to Minnesota in early summer, taking the reins at HES in July.


ISD 728 Finance Team Earns National Certificate of Excellence

The ISD 728 Finance Team has yet again earned recognition for its excellence in financial reporting and transparency, awarded by the Association of School Business Officials.


ISD 728 is one of about 550 school districts nationally who received ASBO International’s Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting (COE) for the fiscal year ended 2020. The COE program recognizes school districts for excellence in the preparation of their Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).


We appreciate our finance team and the work they do for our District and stakeholders. It is important that our team does a responsible job of setting an annual budget and meeting the mark every year, which is a difficult task. The work is often long and ever-changing, especially in a District with as much change as ISD 728 has had in the past several years with construction and, now, the pandemic. This is well-deserved recognition for our team and I am proud of them.



Today, the Governor announced that Minnesota will begin a process that will lead to an end of COVID-19 restrictions, which includes the end to the masking requirement, safely returning us to the things “we miss and the people we love.”


On May 7, 2021, the state will start with initial steps to relax some restrictions, primarily in outdoor settings.


On May 28, 2021, the Friday before Memorial Day, additional restrictions will come to an end, including those for indoor events and gatherings.


ISD 728 will review the new guidance in the coming days, and will continue to modify, adjust and communicate practices based on the changes. This will include practices for the end of the year celebrations such as, but not limited to graduation.


Thank you for your patience and collaboration as we navigate this journey together.


Recent Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers related to COVID-19:


Q: How do I know if the COVID-19 test is an antigen (rapid) test or not?

A. Antigen tests, sometimes called "rapid tests" produce results more quickly than other tests. If you got your results before you left the clinic, you likely had an antigen test.

Q. Why is the antigen test not accepted?

A. An antigen test is not as accurate when students do not have symptoms.


Q. Can a rapid home administered (Binax) COVID-19 test be used?

A. No, because the test must be monitored by trained health personnel. The only home tests that can be used are video monitored saliva tests that are mailed in for processing.


Q. Where can I get a free COVID-19 Test?

A. Visit the MN Department of Health Community Testing Sites.


Q. Can my child attend school if they have been tested for COVID-19?

A. No, if your child has been tested for COVID-19 due to exposure or symptoms, they must stay home until they receive a negative result.

Dr. Dan Bittman
ISD 728 Superintendent

763.241.3400 | 11500 193rd Ave. NW, Elk River, MN 55330