There have been a lot of words used to describe this past school year, among them: unprecedented, challenging, difficult. I would like to add a few more as I reflect on the 2020-21 school year and my first year as Eastern Carver County Schools superintendent: community, strength, and resilience.

Of course, no reflection would be complete without a word that unifies it all: gratitude.

I am ever grateful for this community. I am grateful for our students, whose grace and resilience were a driving motivation throughout the year. I am grateful for our parents, who invested so much time and effort in supporting students as we shifted between learning models. I am grateful to our staff who shifted on a dime to continue to deliver quality education to our students from a distance, in hybrid models and in-person. I am grateful to our broader community, who showed up in countless ways over the year to support our learners.

There is much to celebrate: a return to fully in-person learning, state championships in athletics and activities, thousands of books read and lessons learned, victories large and small in every classroom across our district. Our seniors graduated together after a hard year, and I cannot wait to see what they will accomplish in the years ahead. The talented staff in the district will help us continue to grow, evolve and deliver the quality education our students deserve and our community expects.

As we look to the fall, we all hope for a return to normalcy. It is also clear that even as we have successfully navigated teaching and learning in a pandemic, there are still challenges ahead. Over $9 million has been cut from the budget in the past two years, much of that due to the failure of the 2019 referendum. Without additional funding, an additional $5.7 million in cuts are proposed for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school year.

The School Board is also determining whether to pursue an operating referendum this fall. Over the past several months they have thoughtfully reviewed the work of the Facilities Task Force, reviewed the district budget and finances, and on June 28 they will make their decision. Look for more information in the days and weeks ahead about the results of that decision and what that means for the fall.

As I look back on this year, I am so proud of the work we have done together as a district community. We have outstanding students, an amazing staff, and a caring and supportive community. The pandemic has kept me from being out in person, but I look forward to engaging with you face-to-face soon.

It is a privilege to serve you, and I know working in partnership we will continue to do great things with and for our most precious resource: our students.

Lisa Sayles-Adams is superintendent of Eastern Carver County Schools.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.