March 26, 2017


Levels of Authority

On the second Monday evening of each month, as our school board gathers to begin their monthly business meeting, a dozen or so high school students respectfully wait for attention.

These high school juniors and seniors are waiting for an "official signature" on their social studies homework assignment, verifying that they have attended a school board meeting. 

As the students listen to presentations on programs, discussions on policy, and parliamentary procedure played out at the board table, they wonder, Is this where all the decisions are made?

Yes, in America's decentralized system of public schools, most key decisions affecting the day to day experience of students are made at the local level. 

However, there is more to the story, as you can guess by stories currently in the media describing federal and state policy and funding discussions about education. Following is a brief overview. If you read to the end, check with your social studies teacher to see if your efforts qualify for credit!

First, what is the federal government's role in public education?

The U.S. Constitution is silent on education, leaving education to the states under the Tenth Amendment (You can look this up for more credit). However, the federal government has found ways to influence state and local education policy and programs, sometimes through laws that enforce non-discrimination and equality (see the Fourteenth Amendment), or by offering funding for programs attractive for schools and students such as remedial support, vocational and technical education, or the school lunch program. With this funding comes a great deal of regulation. Federal support is modest as a share of our budget--as a percentage, low single digits for most years.

Secondly, what is the state's role in public education? 

The Minnesota State Constitution, Article XIII, Section 1 contains the language requiring the Legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools. (This is one more provision to look up.) The State Legislature sets funding and establishes laws and rules directing the organization of school districts; standards and curriculum; and providing direction on almost every aspect of our public schools. The Department of Education is the state agency that oversees compliance with most of these laws, but other state agencies have a role too. 

Third, what is the role of the local school board?

Local school boards have all that authority and responsibility granted to them by the State Legislature. School boards develop policies that help carry out responsibilities consistent with state and federal law. As long as the district is meeting state standards for curriculum, licensing, finances, and many other laws, local school districts have discretion in programs and the "how" of implementing education. School board members serve four year terms; their business is governed by the "Open Meeting" law, which means that the public has notice of any meetings, and with only a few statutory exceptions, meetings are open to the public.

Which is why the high school students can listen to all the discussion preceding a decision, and can participate in the process if they have a viewpoint. 

The public--including students--have regular opportunities to meet and discuss issues with our school board; two high school students serve as student representatives (regular and alternate) to our school board, so there is student representation at the board table. Our local legislators welcome public participation, and are especially generous in giving time to our students. On occasion, we are also asked to participate in discussions with our U.S. senators and representatives. (See photos accompanying this article.)

If you have read this far, check with your studies teacher about credit options. And if you are beyond this stage of life, consider ways to get involved at the local, state or federal level. The success of our school and our children depend on all of us working together for the common good.

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In photos: Author Visits Lincoln Elementary

Student News

Creative work

March is Music in Our Schools Month and band students at South Campus stayed busy rehearsing for their upcoming performance at the Region 4AA Large Group Contest on April 4. Students spent time perfecting their piece "Angels in the Architecture," which combines both fast-paced music from instruments and a vocal feature. The students practicing was covered in Friday's 62.4-second video update. Band students also received a special visit from Shirley Mier who is the composer of one of their songs, and they had the opportunity to engage with the musician. While high school students embraced their musical talents, middle school students will be showcasing their skills in their upcoming performances of "The Lion King Jr." Tickets are available for sale on the district's website.

While high school students perfected their works of art, one middle school student won a national award for hers. Central Middle School student Abi Lillo has earned a National Silver Medal in the 2017 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. This year, more than 330,000 works of art and writing were submitted. Abi is the only seventh grade artist to receive recognition in the state of Minnesota and is one of only 54 seventh graders in the country to be recognized. The panel of creative professionals identified her as one of the most talented young artists in the nation. Congratulations!

Diving into books

Author Shelley Tougas visited Lincoln and Otter Lake Elementary to sign books for students. At Lincoln, the Explorereaders and Book Worms book clubs gathered to discuss the author's book "Finders Keepers." After signing books, the author was part of an assembly at Lincoln before traveling over to Otter Lake Elementary to sign books and participate in an assembly there. The visit was covered in this Friday's 62.4-second video update. (Additional photos of Shelley's visit can be found in the In Photos section of this issue of the e-newsletter).

Central and Sunrise Park Middle Schools students had discussions of their own after diving into books and researching for their projects. The middle school students showcased their major research projects at South Campus related to the theme "Taking a Stand in History" at the Metro Junior East Regional History Day Event, which included sixth through eighth grade participants. Students selected a topic of their choosing and created a project in one of five categories: Research Paper, Exhibit Board, Web Site, Documentary, or Performance. Students' experiences preparing for the event was covered in this Friday's 62.4-second video update. This event was the next level after the school contest. The state competition is on April 29 at the University of Minnesota.

Leaders of change
Elementary students kicked off the 2017 National Fix-a-Leak Week by learning that a water leak can add up to more than 10,000 gallons of wasted water. This was part of the Race 2 Reduce initiative that helps students learn about the importance of water conversation and understanding local water resources. Each day, classrooms took time to talk about water in the community, fixing leaks, and they also did a short activity. This week aims to inform students about water being a limited and precious natural resource that needs to be protected. Students will continue to learn about water and talking about being leaders of change by participating in the 2017 STEM Water Symposium on Saturday, June 3 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at South Campus. Learn more.

With water being Earth's most important natural resource, it was only fitting students at Vadnais Heights Elementary and Birch Lake Elementary learned about how to eat well by understanding where veggies come from in nature. Students kicked off the PowerUp School Challenge to Try for Five fruits and veggies a day for three weeks. Students sampled veggies, voted for their favorites, and played fun games to learn about the challenge. More than 40 schools across the St. Croix Valley are spending three weeks tracking their fruits and veggies.

Springing into action

Early childhood students at Hugo Elementary sprung into action on the playground and celebrated the first day of spring. Playing outdoors is a great opportunity to strengthen gross and fine motor skills while enjoying time with friends. Students were also able to pick up chalk, and draw whatever their imagination lead them to create. The experience was covered in this Friday's 62.4-second video update. While early childhood students had fun playing outside, they also had a good time chasing their goals indoors. Early childhood students and families at Normandy Park Education Center, Hugo Elementary, Tamarack Nature Center, and Vadnais Heights Elementary collected change and raised more than $600 for their Pennies for Patients fundraiser. Early childhood students were not the only ones working toward serving others and enjoying time outdoors recently. 

Middle school students also enjoyed time outside in a much warmer climate, Costa Rica. Students from Central and Sunrise Park Middle Schools participated in the Week Without Walls program during spring break. This is a week-long trip where students serve, connect, and gain global understanding. Students are able to immerse in a different culture and embrace the opportunity to experience new opportunities for the first time. 

After spring break, students at South Campus participated in the Manufacturing Student Focus Group. South Campus was one of two high schools in the state to participate in this for Enterprise Minnesota's 2017 State of Manufacturing Report. This process helps identify students' opinions about the economy and issues that impact businesses. On May 9, Enterprise Minnesota will release survey research results along with the information gathered in the focus groups. 

62.4-second video updates

Enjoy 62.4-second video updates highlighting weekly district activities throughout the school year.




Activities Updates
The Unified Bears team, and also the 3x3 team, showed off their Bear pride, as they competed in the State Unified Basketball Tournament at the University of St. Thomas. The White Bear Lake Unified Bears Orange team took first place, bringing home the gold, and the Black team took second bringing home a silver medal. Visit the Unified Bears' Facebook page for more information. Go Bears! Students at South Campus are rehearsing for their upcoming performance at the Region 4AA Large Group Contest on April 4. 


Find a complete list of all WBLAHS Activities, Athletics and Fine Arts here.


Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7695) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications. 

School Board News

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas, packets, minutes highlights and videos/audio files can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
March 27 Work-Study  5:30 p.m. District Center 
April 10 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
April 24 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center 

For highlights from the most recent Board meeting, click here


Superintendent's Message

  • Levels of Authority

Student News

  • In photos: Author Visits Lincoln Elementary
  • Creative work
  • Diving into books
  • Leaders of change
  • Springing into action
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Awards and Honors


School Board Work-Study Meeting
5:30 p.m.
March 27
District Center

School Board Regular Meeting
7 p.m.
April 10
District Center

School Board Work-Study Meeting
5:30 p.m.
April 24
District Center

Find the 2016-17 Activities Calendar here. 2016-17 Parent Academic Calendar here. Find the recently-approved 2017-18 Parent Academic Calendar here.