The Eastern Carver County School Board discussed equity initiatives at its July 19 meeting.

“I always enjoy coming when I have great news to share and this is one of our pieces of great news,” said Robin Gordon, director of equity and inclusion, at the meeting. “We really listened and have been able to respond to some of the pieces that we’re hearing in the community so this is a start to some of that work.”

That work focuses on a handful of goals, labeled on the Equity in ECCS website: monthly updates, staying connected, community involvement, an equity advisory council, American Indian education, and an achievement and integration plan.

Gordon said a major focus of the team is restructuring the Equity Advisory Council, which people can apply for in early August, to be more in tune with the schools. Students will now be asked to apply for the council, which is meant to help the district become more “welcoming” and “culturally competent,” the website states.

“We thought we might be missing a pretty important voice on this team. We felt really disconnected from the schools and the students,” Gordon said.

“I’m really excited about adding that student voice,” Treasurer Jenny Stone added.

Another major update from an equity lens is on the American Indian Education Program. The board switched from a temporary to permanent position for its intercultural specialist. The role is specific to American Indian students at any grade level.

That program “explores the rich indigenous heritage, history and narratives of the many American Indian tribes, and strives to restore and promote the innovation and importance of the culture,” according to the upgraded website.

The new website also highlights the achievement integration plan, which the district is in year two of three.

That plan focuses on equity at Pioneer Ridge Middle School, Chaska Middle School East, and Chaska Middle School West. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, the integration plan aims to: help underrepresented students score higher in math classes; eliminate racial and economic disparities; make schools welcoming to all; and increase youth leadership.

“We want to have a team that supports that accountability factor,” Gordon said of putting the information more visibly on the website.

Board Chair Jeffrey Ross said he hopes the website rebrand will give “visibility and accountability” to ECCS’s continuing equity work.

The website comes with an Elevating Equity in ECCS logo on each page, a monthly equity challenge calendar, and a new quarterly letter from Gordon to “start building connections,” she said. It also highlights past equity efforts, like partnering with the Inclusive Communities Coalition and making an equity framework a few years back.

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