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Press Release: Four Local School Districts Receive School Violence Prevention Program Grant

Monticello, Becker, and Big Lake Public Schools,
along with Sherburne Northern Wright Special Education Cooperative,
Receive Federal Dollars to Improve Security at School and on School Grounds

MONTICELLO, Minn. (January 29, 2024) – Monticello School District, in partnership with Becker and Big Lake School Districts, as well as the Sherburne Northern Wright Special Education Cooperative (SNWSEC or COOP), has been awarded a $499,875 School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) grant from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).  

The goal of the School Violence Prevention Program is to improve security at schools and on school grounds through the implementation of school safety programs and technology. This will happen locally by enhancing camera technologies at each school district named above and creating a safety collaborative supported by the districts, as well as Wright and Sherburne County Sheriff’s Offices. 

“We are honored to receive this funding from the Department of Justice,” says Eric Olson, Monticello Public Schools Superintendent. “School safety is the number one priority for Monticello, Becker and Big Lake Schools, as well as the COOP. Monticello, Becker and Big Lake schools have a 50-year history of collaboration through the COOP, and it’s exciting to extend that to our common violence prevention needs and a desire to coordinate safety efforts.”

The grant activities will occur over a three-year period, from October 1, 2023, to September 30, 2026, ultimately increasing capacity to implement school safety, reducing notification times to law enforcement, improving response time to threats and events, accurately identifying danger and follow up, increasing interaction and improving information sharing with law enforcement. 

The safety collaborative will 1) share information about how the new cameras inform safety measures and 2) exchange violence prevention and crisis planning materials to pass on recommendations to the school safety teams and committees. It will also be responsible for conducting a comprehensive safety assessment at each school district.

The districts worked hand-in-hand with both Wright and Sherburne Sheriff’s Offices to put together the grant application. Monticello has two Wright County School Resource Officers. Becker and Big Lake have one Sherburne County School Resource Officer at each district. Monticello and Becker Public Schools have been partnering with their respective Sheriff’s Office since 1999. Big Lake has been partnering with Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office since 2008. The COOP operates within the three school districts and benefits from all safety efforts and relationships.

“The sheriff’s offices have provided exceptional service to our school districts for many years, and it’s wonderful to see the collaboration grow,” adds Superintendent Olson.

Between 2018 and 2022, the COPS Office awarded nearly $233 million through SVPP. In 2023, the COPS Office received 1,022 applications in 50 states, providing 206 awards totaling $73,619,458. Monticello Public Schools (in partnership with Becker, Big Lake and SNWSEC) was one of five Minnesota districts awarded in 2023 and received the largest award in the state of Minnesota.

Monticello School District is the grant recipient and fiscal host for this opportunity. Becker School District, Big Lake School District and SNWSEC are serving as subrecipients. Together the four school districts have 14 buildings and a collective student population of 10,041. Nationally, 71 percent of awards were given to rural schools, and overall, 1.5 million students will benefit from the funded projects.

More information about the School Violence Prevention Program is available at

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ISD 882 Families,

As a reminder, we will be implementing new start times for the 2024-25 school year. Here are the new start and end times for each school:

  • Kindergarten: 8:00 a.m. – 2:10 p.m.
  • Elementary: 7:50 a.m. - 2:20 p.m.
  • Nature-Based Education: 8:00 a.m. - 2:10 p.m.
  • Middle School: 8:15 a.m. – 2:50 p.m.
  • High School: 8:15 a.m. – 2:55 p.m.

We understand that changes in school schedules can impact families, and we want to ensure a smooth transition for everyone. To assist you, we have dedicated a page in the upcoming February Magic Happenings newsletter (to be released the second week of February) to provide detailed information and helpful resources to assist families with the new school start times for the 2024-25 school year. This newsletter will be distributed to all families via email and will be available on the district website.

Additionally, we will be hosting school events this spring where our team will be available to answer any questions you may have. During these events, we will provide further resources and assistance to help make this adjustment as seamless as possible for you and your child/children.

We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we work towards creating an environment that best supports the needs of our students. Thank you for being valued members of our school community!

District Letter to Families

Read More about 2024-25 School Year Start Time Changes - Upcoming Communication and Events
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In anticipation of the upcoming class of 2024 local scholarships, the Monticello Educational and Scholarship Foundation is seeking dedicated individuals from our community to join us as scholarship application readers.

We invite you to contribute to the future success of our local students by becoming a scholarship application reader. Your role will involve reviewing scholarship applications and grading them based on a predefined rubric.

If you are interested in participating, please take a moment to complete this form. Your commitment will involve a virtual application review scheduled between April 8-15th. We understand the importance of flexibility, and readers will be assigned applications to review at times convenient to them.

Your support in this endeavor is invaluable, and we appreciate your consideration in helping shape the future for the class of 2024!

Interested in Being a Scholarship Donor? If you are interested in making a direct impact as a scholarship donor, please visit the Monticello Educational and Scholarship Foundation page for more details.

For any inquiries or further information, please feel free to reach out to Devony Moore via email.

Read More about Scholarship Application Readers Needed!
Picture of the MS STEM teachers, 4 students, Eric Olson, and Kathy Ziebarth at the MSBA Leadership Conference

In a remarkable achievement for Monticello Middle School, our esteemed STEM lab teachers, Jill Kedrowski and Casie Monson, were selected to participate in the School Excellence Showcase during the 2024 MSBA Leadership Conference. The event took place at the Minneapolis Convention Center on January 11th, where school board leaders and educators from across the state gathered to share innovative practices and celebrate excellence in education.

The Monticello Middle School STEM lab teachers, known for their dedication to fostering a passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, showcased our school's cutting-edge STEM lab. This state-of-the-art facility provides students with a dynamic learning environment equipped with advanced technology and resources to explore and engage in hands-on STEM activities.

During the School Excellence Showcase, our teachers had the opportunity to speak about the various modules available in the STEM lab, highlighting the diverse range of subjects and projects that students can choose from. They shared insights into their teaching strategies, emphasizing the importance of cultivating critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and creativity among students.

The event served as a platform for our educators to collaborate with peers from other schools, exchanging ideas and best practices. Casie Monson and Jill Kedrowski provided a fantastic view of the exceptional opportunities the STEM lab offers, inspiring fellow educators to incorporate similar strategies in their schools.

Beyond the technical aspects, our teachers took pride in presenting how Monticello School District intentionally designs courses to help students explore their strengths and interests.The STEM lab not only prepares students for academic success but also instills a lifelong love for learning and innovation.

Participating in the School Excellence Showcase was not only a recognition of the outstanding work at Monticello Middle School but also an opportunity to showcase the positive impact our district has on students. By fostering a learning environment that encourages exploration and personal growth, our district is shaping the leaders of tomorrow.

The Monticello School District commends our STEM lab teachers for their dedication and commitment to excellence!

This story was also featured in the Monticello Times on January 18, 2024!

Read More about Monticello Middle School STEM Lab Teachers Shine at 2024 MSBA Leadership Conference

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