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District 191 Superintendent Battle's first 100 days - 2020

District 191 superintendent’s first 100 days- by John Gessner Jan 17, 2020 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News

In her first 100 days on the job, School District 191 Superintendent Theresa Battle oversaw a successful levy referendum campaign and preparations to close three schools and redraw attendance boundaries.

“You have had quite a first 100 days, unlike, I’m sure, many, most superintendents, and you’ve handled the challenges with grace and thoughtfulness,” Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School Board Chair Abigail Alt told Battle Jan. 9.

Battle gave the board a report on her first 100 days, from her official start on July 1 through November. The longtime St. Paul school administrator replaced former Superintendent Cindy Amoroso, who retired.

Battle described her first employment phase as “listen and connect.”

“This phase was highlighted by a great deal of visibility for me as I got to know the stakeholders,” she said.

The period included an appearance at the summertime “Rockin’ Readers” program in Nicollet Commons Park.

“It was a wonderfully warm day, and the students were engaged, and we read a book about the sun and other planets,” Battle said.

Battle said she introduced herself further at a “welcome back” staff rally that kicked off the school year. Gov. Tim Walz and Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker attended.

On the first day of school Battle helped middle school students with their locker combinations.

“Which might be the most stressful part of the first day for some middle school students,” she said. “And I could still do it. I opened the locker — several of them.”

Other highlights included taking in a Burnsville High School pep fest, visiting the school’s Pathway classes and holding her first executive team retreat, Battle said.

Her “learn and connect” phase included “deep dives” into the district’s structures and systems, including student performance data, policies and contracts.

There were briefings on “topics that required immediate attention,” Battle said. Those included contract negotiations, the facilities study that led to a December board vote for three school closings, the successful November levy referendum that raised $1.7 million in new funding annually, the budget and enrollment.

Among the many community contacts she’s made, Battle said she joined the Burnsville Rotary, a tradition for District 191 superintendents.

“I have to continue to further strengthen relationships and build trust among all District 191 stakeholders,” Battle said.

“I try to get into schools twice a week for a minimum of two hours each day,” she said.

After introductions to the district, Battle said her leadership phase included refining priorities and setting specific actions for the levy campaign and facilities process.

“I cannot thank the community enough for the passage of our levy,” she said.

Leadership included writing a statement of response to an MPR News story about alleged racial tensions between some staff and students at Metcalf Middle School, she said.

Battle said she’s done several media interviews and submitted local newspaper columns.

Current tasks include preparing the 2020-21 budget and redrawing attendance boundaries, Battle said.

“We are about to embark on the boundary adjustments and are sharing those options with the community,” she said.

It was an exciting first 100 days, “but not as exciting as the first 100 days for the kindergartners,” Battle said. “If you’ve never experienced that when they celebrate, please talk to a kindergartner.”

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