Strong schools equal strong communities

By Dr. Bob McDowell

Superintendent, Hastings School District

It’s hard to believe another school year has come and gone. As superintendent of this great school district, I am filled with so much gratitude and amazement for all that our students, staff, and families accomplished this year a year that many shared was more challenging than the previous year. It was a year that began with many unknowns, provided unique challenges, and presented plenty of stress. However, the excitement of endofyear elementary carnivals, middle school celebrations, and a spectacular outdoor graduation at Todd Field seemed to bring a feeling of closure and spark excitement for more typical school experiences to come.

According to a recent community survey, 92% of our Hastings residents agree that strong public schools are directly linked to the wellbeing of our community. And our community’s support for our schools bears this out. Our generous community provided $195,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors! And, through the Doffing Charitable Foundation and Hastings Public Schools Foundation many of our classrooms have received grants for the 202223 school year.

Our community also gives with time, whether it is those who volunteer in our classrooms, local businesses sharing insights during our “Think Tank” sessions, the United Way of Hastings and other community resources partnering with us for Opioid and Overdose Awareness, the DNR working with us on pollinator gardens, Hastings Police, Fire and Dakota County partnering on school safety, or Mo McNeary regularly hosting conversations for us to share our stories on the radio. It is clear that our community supports our schools. This support becomes increasingly important as financial challenges and state funding strain our budgets.

ISD 200 has so many great things going on. We continue to graduate over 95% of our students in four years, putting us in the top ten percent of all Minnesota school districts. According to the latest US News and World Report Rankings, Hastings High School is ranked in the top 30 high schools in the state. Our school district again received the Minnesota Department of Education School Finance Award, an honor we have gotten every year since 2008. Due to Federal ESSER funding, we are able to provide additional classroom support and mental health resources for our students. With additional funding once those dollars are gone, we can keep that important support going. And, our 2017 bond projects, which due to the generosity of the community have provided improvements to each building in the district, are now in the final stages. In fact, thanks to the interest earned on the bonds, rebate programs, and projects under budget, over $7 million in additional projects will be completed without affecting the taxpayer's levy rate. This means the district is returning more improvements to the taxpayer than originally promised!

It’s exciting to think about what is in store for the fall of 2022 and Hastings Public Schools, as we plan for how to best see all, support all, and serve all students. Thank you for your continued support!

June 29, 2022