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FAQ: Academics
1. What is the status of current employee contracts/work agreements? (Added 6.25.15)
2. How does the district project student enrollment? (Added 6.25.15)
3. Why do class sizes vary within RPS? (Added 6.25.15)
4. Why is RPS so heavy in administration? (Added 6.25.15)
5. Why does RPS have instructional coaches, success coaches, TOSAs (Teachers on Special Assignment) and POSAs (Principals on Special Assignment)? (Added 10.23.15)
6. I’ve read that test scores have not improved since the last time you received funding. Is this accurate? (Added 10.27.15)



Q: What is the status of current employee contracts/work agreements? (Added 6.25.15)
A:
Contracts/Work Agreements that are currently in active negotiations are:
-Rochester Educators Association
-Rochester Principals Association

Contracts/Work Agreements that are in effect from July 2014-June 2016:
-Cabinet
-Clerical
-Community Education
-Maintenance
-Non-Schedule
-Off-Schedule
-Paraprofessional
-Rochester Administrators Association
-Student Nutrition Services

Q: How does the district project student enrollment? (Added 6.25.15)
A:
RPS utilizes census data from the birth rates in Olmsted County to project student enrollment numbers. RPS continues to adjust the projections based upon current enrollment and current birth rates.

Q: Why do class sizes vary within RPS? (Added 6.25.15)
A:
There are many factors that impact class size. At the elementary level RPS has target class sizes for each grade level. The targets are as follow:

K-20 students per classroom
1st-24 students per classroom
2nd-29 students per classroom
3rd-29 students per classroom
4th-31 students per classroom
5th-31 students per classroom

RPS strives to not have more than 3 students over target per classroom at the elementary level. Class sizes vary due to multiple factors. These factors include:

1) Sites choosing to utilize compensatory dollars to decrease class size (compensatory dollars are tied directly to the students that attend each site, compensatory dollars are allocated based upon students who qualify for free/reduced lunch).
2) total number of students attending that particular grade level at that particular site (there are fluctuations in the total grade level size from grade to grade and site to site). For example, two sites may both have 2 sections of 3rd grade, one site may have a total third grade enrollment of 40 resulting in 2 sections of 20, whereas the other site may have a total third grade enrollment of 60 resulting in two sections of 30.

Additional support is pushed out to classrooms and sites regardless of numbers when the building principal requests for this support. The office of the assistant superintendent works directly with each site in the area of providing additional support.

In the secondary sites there is a class size cap of 160 students per day that each teacher can have. RPS works to have class size at the secondary level near 32. The class size cap as well as the interest in courses impact class size. For example one school may have 50 students sign up for a particular course that would result in 2 sections of 25 students/section. In another site 35 students may sign up for the course and we would most likely only run one section.

Q: Why is RPS so heavy in administration? (Added 6.25.15)
A: 
RPS spends $471 per student out of a total per student allocation of $11,098 on administration costs. The state average of per student spending on administration costs is $704 per student. RPS is at 4.11% of operating expenses spent on administration, the state average is 5.68%.

Q: Why does RPS have instructional coaches, success coaches, TOSAs (Teachers on Special Assignment) and POSAs (Principals on Special Assignment)? (Added 10.23.15)
A: 
Instructional coaches work with teachers to provide supports in the following manner:
-teach with the classroom teacher to introduce a new teaching method or strategy to improve instruction
-observe the teacher to provide them with reinforcement of practices that they are doing well as well as ideas for improvements
-teach in the teacher’s classroom while the teacher observes another teacher to get ideas on how to improve their instruction
-part of the state mandated teacher evaluation system calls for peers for teachers to work with soliciting feedback for ways to improve their instruction

How these positions are funded:
-1.5 out of Integration
-11 out of Staff Development
-12.75 out of Site Compensatory
-.5 out of Title I
-3.0 out of State Special Ed
-8.0 out of Third Party Billing
-.25 out of ALC
-1.5 out of General Fund*
-.5 out of Early Childhood Family Education

*Of these, only the 1.5 general fund can replace current teaching positions. The other funding sources have very specific purposes and restrictions.

Success Coaches = 7.2 FTE
-Century: 1.0 paid by Integration
-JM: 1.0 paid by General Fund
-Mayo: 2.0 paid by 0.8 Integration, 0.7 General Fund, and 0.5 Compensatory
-JA: 1.0 paid by Compensatory
-Willow: 2.2 paid by 1.0 Integration, 0.8 ALC, 0.2 Compensatory, and 0.2 Compensatory Pilot Project

Success coaches work directly with students to ensure they are on track to graduate with their credit attainment. They also work to design plans for the students to ensure successful course completion. Success coaches also work with students, teachers and families to ensure success.

TOSA – Clinical GIP4 positions funded through our Graduate Induction Program through Winona State University (WSU) 30 year program. This is actually cost saving as it gives us positions in curriculum (5 Implementation Associates) as well as the residents (16 teaching positions that we would otherwise have to fund so it is cost saving to the district).

TOSA behavior supports-these positions work directly with students and families on designing plans for student behaviors and implementing supports personalized to the students.

Some of our instructional coaches are called TOSAs; this is a term from prior contract language. Instructional coaches hired after 2013 are not called TOSAs (these positions are included in the count of 39).

For the 2014-2015 school year the Curriculum and Instruction Department was restructured. This resulted in the adding of POSA’s, which actually replaced positions. Here is how this breaks down:

POSAs = 7.0 FTE
-2.0 Assistant Principal on Special Assignment (in Curriculum & Instruction Department)
-3.0 Principals on Special Assignment (Office of the Assistant Superintendent)
-2.0 Principals on Special Assignment (Curriculum & Instruction Department)

The Curriculum & Instruction positions were a result of a restructure for 2014-2015 school year that was a savings of $10,980 to the general fund.

The restructure in the former Elementary and Secondary Departments, now Assistant Superintendent Department was for the 2013-2014 school year. The 2 POSA positions were created when two other positions were eliminated. This restructure resulted in a cost savings $60,592.29.

The third POSA position that was created for the 2015-2016 school year is responsible for cultural responsive professional development and support for all RPS sites. This position works to build capacity and provide hands on professional development in the equity work. The position was created as a result of a restructure involving several positions and resulted in a $238,000 savings to the general fund.

All of these positions support our teachers, staff, students, and families in a variety of capacities. CLICK HERE to watch a video about Instructional Coaches

Q: I’ve read that test scores have not improved since the last time you received funding. Is this accurate? (Added 10.27.15)
A: 
This is not an accurate statement. The District’s last successful passage of a referendum was in 2006. Testing standards and mandates from the Minnesota Department of Education have varied annually within the past 10 years. In some cases, the District is no longer administering the same tests that were administered in 2006. The district uses many tools of measurements – ACT, NWEA MAP/MPG, MMR and AYP. Collectively, this data allows the district to focus on areas of opportunities and strength. The District’s graduation rate continues to increase, year over year. (2011-2012 81.4%, 2012-2013 82.7%, 2013-2014 83.6%). Click here to see the District’s student achievement data for 2014-2015.

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