• Wildcat Chat with Jamie Boelter NLS Superintendent

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is Transforming Schools

    Posted by Megan Norgren on 4/19/2024

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming schools in numerous ways.  It’s enhancing personalized learning by tailoring educational content to individual students’ needs and learning styles.  Additionally, AI-driven tools are streamlining administrative tasks, such as grading and scheduling, freeing up educators to focus more on teaching.  Moreover, AI is enabling predictive analytics to identify students who may need extra support or intervention, ultimately improving academic outcomes.  However, there are also concerns about privacy, equity, and the potential for AI to exacerbate inequalities if not implemented carefully and ethically.

    “Write about how AI is affecting schools,” is what I typed into ChatGPT to generate the paragraph above. ChatGPT is just one of thousands of AI tools available.  I promise, the rest of this article is coming from my own brain.  

    Throughout the school year, I have attended several educational sessions on how AI is and will be ingrained into everyday life.  Schools will not be immune to this revolution.  As an organization, we have already been planting seeds with our staff during staff development days as well as utilizing our technology leaders to prepare.

    There are many AI tools that specifically cater to education.  We are currently investigating these options first as tools for teachers.  Preparing students to use AI tools appropriately must also be integrated into the educational experience.

    In a world where AI is becoming increasingly integrated into our daily lives, the future holds promises and challenges.  As we navigate this ever-evolving landscape, it’s crucial to approach AI development with foresight, ethics, and a commitment to harnessing its potential for the betterment of humanity.  Only through responsible innovation and thoughtful regulation can we ensure that AI remains a force for good, empowering us to tackle the complexities of tomorrow while preserving our shared values and humanity.  - - I lied, I ended up using AI to break my writer’s block for the last paragraph. 

    In education,

    Jamie Boelter, New London-Spicer Superintendent  

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  • How Projects Are Funded

    Posted by Megan Norgren on 1/16/2024 1:00:00 PM

    As a fairly new Superintendent, I have been learning a ton! Minnesota has one of the most complicated education funding systems in the nation. Our district has a lot of projects in the works. I want to take a moment to share updates regarding those projects, including how the projects are being funded. 

    The state provides schools with funding by putting the money in certain “buckets” which are coded for specific types of expenditures. The projects I have listed below do not affect our general education fund balance, but are projects designed to provide a better learning environment for staff and students, provide long-term facilities planning and updates, as well as add security and safety measures.         

    Maintenance and Building Upgrades Project

    Funding Source: Long Term Facility Maintenance Bonds and Local Tax Bond sales triggered by School Board authority, and a splash from the Booster Club.  

    This will be the biggest project over the next couple of years. This project will also prepare the old cafeteria in the basement of the middle school to be used as a multipurpose fitness area, creating a more equitable space for our female and special education students. The Booster Club will be involved in helping to fund this space as well.  

    The project scope includes all buildings in the district and will focus on roofing repairs, pipes, asbestos removal, dehumidification and heating upgrades. The bulk of this work will begin the summer of 2025 and finish the summer of 2026. Detailed timelines will be communicated once the bidding for the projects is completed this summer. Staff should be aware that our summer programming will be affected during this time and not our regular school calendar. I have been working with the building leaders to brainstorm alternative spaces for summer. Information about this project can be found on our school website: https://www.nls.k12.mn.us/facilityplanning    

    Solar for Schools: Installation of solar panels on the HS/MS and PW Roofs

    Funding Source: The district qualified for a Solar for Schools grant through the state of Minnesota. This grant will pay for the entirety of the project.

    The project scope includes installation of solar panels on the HS/MS roofs as well as the Prairie Woods roof.  Prairie Meadows is already a part of a solar garden program and is powered through a different power company - which is why Prairie Meadows did not qualify for this particular grant. The solar panels are projected to help the district save over $1million in utility costs over 20 years.    

    Fob System: Installation on outside doors of all buildings

    Funding Source: Capital Funding from the state of Minnesota.

    The new fobbing system will add security for all our buildings. Completion of this project has been slower due to the contractor’s slower than expected progress, but should be done in the near future.

    Softball Shed: Replacing the outdoor classroom that has been used for storage for our softball and baseball teams as well as summer recreation programs 

    Funding Source: Bernick’s Grant and Booster Club
    Many years ago, when the district no longer needed to use outdoor classrooms, one of the outdoor classrooms was moved near the softball field to be used as a storage shed. This building is falling apart and is infested. We are waiting to hear if we will be awarded a grant to tackle this project. If awarded, the district will partner with the Booster Club to create a storage area, concession stand, and possibly bathrooms to replace this dilapidated outdoor classroom/softball storage shed.  

    My hope is that this information gives a better understanding of the behind the scenes for our district’s upcoming projects. As always I am available to your questions by phone, email or appointment. 

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  • Under the Hood

    Posted by Jamie Boelter, Superintendent on 4/24/2023

    A favorite conversation piece when I visit my father-in-law is his 1977 two-door Chevy Corvette Coupe.  He bought it about 8 years ago to fulfill a dream to own one as well as something to tinker on in his garage.  All the grandkids have gotten a ride, along with a commemorative picture on the fridge that they always admire when visiting grandma and grandpa in Clara City.  The two oldest grandkids have already discussed using it for prom.

    In conversation with my father-in-law, he admits he knew he had a project on his hands when he bought it.  Over the years, he’d tell me about the tires he had to replace and a new brake system with new brake pads and brake lines.  He also changed the carburetor from an air pressure vacuum system to an electric system.  The list goes on and on, but he did what he had to do to keep this beauty on the road.  The memories and experiences far outweighed the cost and time put into fixing it.     

    On July 1, 2023, I was given the keys to the NLS school district.  Rather than being handed the keys to a sweet 1977 Coupe, my keys open the doors to our buildings. The memories and experiences of our staff and students filling the halls and classrooms steer my days.  However, in my conversations with my Buildings and Grounds Director, I can’t help but notice the similarities between the upkeep of a classic car and school buildings.  Pipe, roof, boiler, heating unit, and air handling repairs have become common, prompting the district to do two buildings studies; one by Bradbury and Stamm and the other by SiteLogIQ.

    Both reports confirmed, many of our systems and equipment in our 1963, 1968, and 1993 buildings and additions are well beyond life.  Tests of our CO2 levels in classrooms are above recommended amounts.  Just like a car built in 1977, buildings can only be fixed so much before parts need to be replaced.  I want to applaud our custodial staff and buildings and grounds personnel over the years for extending the life of systems and equipment invested in by our stakeholders.  

    In clear transparency, the district does not have enough money to fix and upgrade our systems and equipment to modern code.  As a public school, we access money through Long Term Facility Maintenance funds, Capital funds, Voter Approved Levies, General funds and Board Approved Levies.  Given we receive just over $600,000 per year in Long Term Facility Maintenance, just over $500,000 a year in Capital and have a General Fund balance slightly over $400,000, this leaves us quite short of the funds needed to take on “under the hood” projects.  In the coming months, the school board will be investigating ways to address these issues.  The goal is to protect community assets and provide an exceptional learning experience for our youth.

    Conditions of car brakes, tires, and carburetors aren’t known until you take a look under the hood.  When driving by or walking through school buildings, one does not see the pipes, air handling units, boilers and roofs unless you also take a look behind the walls and into the ceilings.  One may only see a classic car to envy. 

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  • School Board Recognition Month 2/14/2023

    Posted by Jamie Boelter, Superintendent on 2/14/2023

    To honor our school board members past and present during School Board Recognition Month, I want to say thank you.  Currently, our school board members are Board Chair, Lucinda Dahlberg, Vice Chair, Mark Peterson, Board Clerk, Susan Lange, Treasurer, Jeff Vetsch, Darryl Nelson, Laura Nelson, and Del Brouwer. 
    My career started as an English teacher, and being in education my entire career, it took me a few years to understand all the commitments of a board member.  Needless to say, being a board member is more than two meetings a month. Our board members spend many hours serving on a variety of additional committees including but not limited to; Buildings and Grounds, Labor and Transportation, Finance, Executive, Advisory, High School League, Policy committee and many more! A detailed rundown of our school board’s involvement in school and local committees is located on our website (www.nls.k12.mn.us/schoolboard).
    Again, thank you to our past and present board members who have put in countless hours looking out for our future.
    Jamie Boelter, NLS Superintendent 

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  • Time to Celebrate! 12/12/2022

    Posted by Jamie Boelter, Superintendent on 12/12/2022 5:00:00 AM

    Time to Celebrate!

    Dear New London-Spicer Wildcat Community,

    When penning this edition of Wildcat Chat, I thought about many topics such as teacher workshop days, government spending on education vs. inflation, special education cross subsidization and the state government surplus.  Trust me, I will cover all those topics in the future, but when it’s time to celebrate, it’s time to celebrate…  

    It has been a “Wild” ride these past couple weeks, celebrating a nationally viral State Football Championship as well as keeping tabs on Coach Dreier’s record-breaking wins total, as he has now become the all-time winningest coach in not just girls basketball, but all basketball in the state of Minnesota.  It’s not often that a school gets as much media attention as NLS these past couple weeks, and I am continually impressed by our student athletes and coaches as they navigate the spotlight.  

    My dad always said, “you should never brag about yourself.  It’s more important what others say about you.”  I can’t say enough about the coaches as they are some of the most humble people I have ever met.  When I attempt to compliment them, they always smile and say it’s about the kids.  No wonder they are successful!         

    To top it off, the cast and crew and directors of Annie had a wonderful three-night performance in front of over 1,000 people.  A special thanks to our band director, Mr. West, as he transported pep band students back for the Saturday performance so they could also play music at the state football game.  Also, thank you to Director Prill for being flexible through all of the craziness.  “All hands on deck” is the mantra I’ve witnessed over and over again during my time at NLS.  

    I also want to take the time to recognize three outstanding board members who will be stepping down after December.  Cherrish Holland, Renee Nolting, and Nancy Wehseler have done a stellar job serving the district during historical and unprecedented challenges.  I tip my cap to you.

    Mark Peterson will be returning, and newly elected board members Del Brouwer, Laura Nelson, and Darryl Nelson have big shoes to fill, but I have been impressed by their willingness to jump in early and eagerly.  They are a great fit and have demonstrated great passion for the students of NLS.

    When there is so much positivity and energy flowing through your school district, it’s important to recognize it and celebrate it.  Thank you NLS Community for your support in making this a great place for our students.

    Go Wildcats! 

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