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Includes recent History of Mankato Area Public Schools., Mankato Minnesota  

By Elizabeth Hanke

Running a school is one of the most important leadership positions in America and it is time to get back to Basics. First I will go through recent changes at Mankato Area Public school and then detail how we get back to basics.

Mankato Area Public Schools (MAPS)

  • 2017 *Minnesota Department of Human Rights reached out to MAPS and requires they close disparities in discipline. This was the first step in introducing Non-exclusionary and reformative justice practices 
  • March of 2020  Begin race-based affinity groups at the Middle Schools. Here is another article about Race based affinity groups.
  • Summer of 2020, the Superintendent and school board reached out to MnEEP seeking partnership and guidance for an education equity planning process. The contract estimated 337 total hours for a cost of $67,400.
  • December 2020School Board removed some of our Resource officers from our school buildings
  • April 2021  $7.5 million Shortfall creates situation where MAPS cuts about a 100 staff
  • June 2021MNEEP presented their findings and encourages changes to our Equity Framework
    • Performed work sessions with 117 community stakeholders of color.  Less than 1% of our stakeholder population in Mankato Minnesota.
  • June 2021Superintendents performance review tied to vision cards that will be passed in September 2021. Ties performance and pay to closing gaps in educational performance, discipline disparities, and hiring staff that reflect the appearance of students, among other metrics.
  • July 2021Approval of Equity Framework. 
    • Changed mission to “MAPS is committed to working together equitably, with families and communities, so that each learner has the knowledge and skills to be successful and contributing citizens in a diverse global society.”
  • Summer 2021– Mankato school receive ESSER III (CARES ACT) funding in the amount of $8,074,797.94. *There are equity spending requirements, but this funding did allow them to rehire teachers and support staff.
  •  September 2021– MAPS holds Equity Summit
  • September 2021– MAPS updates mission statement and removes integrity, respect, adaptability, responsibility, engagement and collaboration from our mission
  • September 2021Updated Vision Cards which measure state test performance, fiscal health, family satisfaction and attendance of students.  Prioritizes Race and gender based Hiring.
  • December 2021– Approval of Professional Development Funding. Retention strategies include incentives for teachers of color and placing educators of  color at sites with other educators of color to reduce isolation and increase opportunity for collegial support. Policy 466 V C.  
  • September 2022Updated Vision Cards were not presented at the school board meeting, like promised in 2021.  These are now only being published to the school board during their work sessions. *We are not being transparent about our data.
  • June 2022Removes Education as a goal from SCHOOL DISTRICT MISSION AND VISION STATEMENT
  • March 2023– School Board Resolves to cut 9 million from budget.
  • May 2023- State funding formula increased by 4% in fiscal year 2024 and 2% in fiscal year 2025. That’s up to $7,281 per pupil by 2025, compared to $6,863 this year in state funding.  The increase in per pupil funding and special education cross subsidy will be eaten-up by FMLA and seasonal unemployment payment requirements passed by MN State Government. Most likely resulting in a net-loss for funding in ISD77
    • The MAPS superintendent has announced that the school board will intensify their work related to the property tax referendum and will determine its scope and size for the November ballot before the start of the school year. They have informed the community that work sessions will be scheduled in mid-June, allowing for reevaluation and seeking community support. The board will engage in conversations to review feedback and discuss the referendum’s details, as well as address any operational needs of the district, with results expected in July.


Dakota Meadows Middle School, and Prairie Winds Middle School,  Links to state data
Mankato West Senior High, and Mankato East Senior High, links to state data

During the 2019-2020 school year, the population of Mankato Public Schools was 8,685. However, as we entered this current school year, the population has declined to 8,097. It is evident that there has been a consistent trend of student attrition within our district.

While the forecast suggests that Mankato Public Schools may continue to experience a decline in student numbers, it is essential to acknowledge that our district still maintains a substantial student population of over 8,000. It is worth noting that approximately 1,600 students have chosen alternative educational options.

This data shows the importance of not only making wise choices for your students but also advocating for sound educational policies for our public school students.

Mankato Minnesota Area School Data –

the years, in red, link to demographic resources

  • 2017Homeschool 146 *Non-Public 795   Open Enrollment  +11**PSEO 85 
    • 8478 at Mankato Area Public Schools and 1,015 students enrolled at other area schools.
  • 2018Homeschool 118    Non-Public 711     Open Enrollment   1     PSEO 84 
    • 8508 at Mankato Area Public Schools and 914 students enrolled at other area schools.
  • 2019Homeschool 132   Non-Public 786   Open Enrollment  119  PSEO 92 
    • 8685 at Mankato Area Public Schools and 1129 students enrolled at other area schools.
  • 2020Homeschool 272  Non-Public 791    Open Enrollment  278  PSEO 101
    • 8433 at Mankato Area Public Schools and 1622 students enrolled at other area schools.
  • 2021Homeschool 192   Non-Public 889   Open Enrollment  418  PSEO 139
    • 8375 at Mankato Area Public Schools and 1638 students enrolled at other area schools.
  • 2022Homeschool 186  Non-Public 932   Open Enrollment  393 PSEO 121 
    • 8097 at Mankato Area Public Schools and 1632 students enrolled at other area schools.

*Non- Public schools are the private schools that operate within the city of Mankato.  Minnesota Valley Lutheran and other private schools not within Mankato city limits, are not documented in these numbers.

**PSEO- is a dual enrollment program, where high school students take university/college courses.  In district enrollment totals, these students are often counted as part of the district, however, the state funding is actually going to pay for the University/College courses the student is enrolled in.

How to get back to basics and what you can advocate for:

Enhancing Decision-Maker-Student Interaction:

Regular interaction between decision makers and students is paramount. The most successful schools have superintendents and cabinet members actively engaged in the school environment rather than being isolated in separate offices. This ensures that the voices and perspectives of students are heard and considered in the decision-making processes.

Empowering Teachers while Ensuring Accountability:

It is important to acknowledge that the majority of teachers are competent professionals. It is crucial to minimize government interference in the classroom and empower teachers. By granting them the autonomy to make instructional decisions, we can foster a conducive learning environment. However, it is equally important to hold teachers accountable for their performance, ensuring high-quality education for all students.

Maintaining a Focused Learning Environment:

To uphold a focused learning environment, the implementation of a cell phone ban in classrooms becomes necessary. Consistently and equally enforcing this rule ensures that students’ attention remains on their studies and minimizes distractions.

Respecting Free Speech Rights:

Respecting the free speech rights of both students and staff is of utmost importance. It is essential to create an environment where individuals can express their principles and opinions within professional boundaries. But that means you must voice your opinions as well.

Addressing Discriminatory Curriculum and Behaviors:

Schools must have clearly defined processes to address instances of discriminatory curriculum or behaviors promptly. By establishing transparent and efficient procedures, we can ensure that any concerns related to discrimination are thoroughly investigated and resolved.

Promoting Transparency in Decision Making:

Transparency in decision making is vital for the well-being of the educational community. We should demand that school boards and state governments provide transparent access to relevant safety and education data. This empowers stakeholders to be informed and actively participate in the decision-making process.

Active Engagement in the Democratic Process:

Running for public office and advocating for empowering professional educators while holding them accountable is a powerful way to make a difference. Supporting candidates through campaign assistance, expressing gratitude through calls, and actively participating in the democratic process helps shape educational policies that align with our values.

Harnessing Volunteerism and Mentorship:

Volunteering through programs like the Mankato YMCA mentorship program or MyPlace, can significantly benefit students.

Calling your local school and asking to donate time. Allowing volunteers to contribute their time and skills within classrooms enhances the learning experience for students and provides valuable support to teachers.

By implementing these strategies, we can foster an environment that values student voices, empowers teachers, promotes accountability, respects free speech, ensures fairness, demands transparency, and leverages volunteerism to create a thriving educational community.