SWWC LogoSW/WC Service Cooperative
Member Newsletter
 December 2013
In This Issue
Admin Services
Risk Management
Special Education
Teaching and Learning
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Observation and Feedback Skills Training for Administrators and Peers:  The SW/WC SC is excited to have Dr. Ed Porthan from Embracing Excellence provide training in observation, feedback and conferencing for both administrators and peer observers.  Dr. Porthan has done extensive work with leadership training for the Sioux Falls, Watertown and Rapid City school districts. This will be a great opportunity to prepare your summative evaluators and peer review staff while piloting or implementing your evaluation framework.  This is a 3-day series held on January 16, February 27 and March 20.  Go to www.swsc.org/workshops for more information and to register.
Congratulations to Willmar's Beckie Simenson who was selected as the Minnesota Secondary Level Assistant Principal of the Year!  She will have the privilege of traveling to Washington D.C. to represent Minnesota on the National Level this spring.  The Willmar Middle School is very proud of Beckie and feel fortunate to work with her each and every day and see the passion and energy she shares with students and staff!  Please join us in congratulating Beckie on this prestigious award!


G.R.O.W. Program (Giving Recognition for Outstanding Work): The SW/WC SC has started a new program to recognize our employees for their outstanding work throughout the year.  Our employees can be nominated by co-workers, supervisors, and our members.  Click here for more information on how to nominate a SC staff member for the great work they are doing!  


Happy Holidays from the SW/WC SC:  We will be closed on December 24th, December 25th and January 1st.  Have a happy and safe holiday season!

Division of Administrative Services

PERA Reviewing Plan Contribution Rates:  PERA is currently evaluating the sufficiency of current member and employer contribution rates for the Coordinated Plan.  The Board of Trustees and staff are awaiting the findings of our actuaries for Fiscal Year 2013, which ended June 30, before determining the amount of any adjustment needed.  PERA's statutes require that employee and employer contribution rates for the Coordinated Plan be automatically adjusted upward when the Association's actuaries determine there is a contribution deficiency greater than 0.5 percent of payroll for two consecutive years.  Those proposed changes are to be reported to the Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement by January 15.  At the October Board meeting, trustees recommended that any adjustment be delayed until January 2015.  That would allow employers time to make any adjustments necessary to accommodate the additional costs.  Since current statutes require implementation July 1, 2014, legislative action is required to delay any contribution increases.


TRA Plan Contribution Rate Increase:  TRA will increase rates on July 1, 2014 from 7.0% to 7.5% for both the employee and employer contributions.

Online Indoor Air Quality Survey:  
Poor indoor air quality can affect the health of your staff and students.  It can also affect the overall climate of your building.  It can affect concentration, attendance, and performance.  An effective IAQ Management Plan is one that is designed to meet the goals and needs of your school. Expectations of an IAQ Management Plan must be realistic and manageable so that commitment from the school board, the administration, and staff can be achieved.  An important step of an effective IAQ management plan includes an annual survey of building occupants.  Although there are several ways to accomplish this we are excited to offer an easy cost effective way to electronically survey your staff and send you a summary of all results.  This is Health and Safety Fundable as well.  For more information visit www.swsc.org/IAQ or contact Christine Schmitt at christine.schmitt@swsc.org

Technical Support Helpdesk:  If you're looking for technical support from SW/WC SC, it is important to utilize our helpdesk so we can support you as efficiently as possible. The SW/WC SC Technology Support Helpdesk is staffed from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday, except for holidays observed by the SC.  You can reach the helpdesk by phone at 507-537-2260 and by email at helpdesk@swsc.org.


Technology Leadership Workshops:  The dates for our Technology Leadership Workshops (for Technology Directors, Coordinators and Integrationists.) will be February 6th, April 22nd and June 17th. And don't forget the date for This is IT2 2014, our annual technology conference, which will begin with Pre-Conference sessions on March 13th and the full conference on March 14th.  Visit www.swsc.org/techconf2014 for more details.     

Division of Risk Management Services

Small Group Status:  We have received several inquiries into the definition of a small group employer.  There are two issues in relation to small group status.  First, for the 'Play or Pay' provision a small group is defined as those employers who employ fewer than 50 FTE who average at least 30 hours per week.  This definition is NOT planned or expected to increase in the future greater than 50.  The second issue of small group status is the size of a group that carriers must follow in regards to underwriting a group in the fully-insured marketplace.  It is currently at 50 FTE's and will increase to 100 in 2016.  Since the Insurance Pool is a self-insured pool these provisions to do not apply to any of our groups within the pool.  If you still have questions on this, please contact Doug Deragisch at doug.deragisch@swsc.org.


Virtual Health Clinic:  Use Online Care Anywhere® to talk to a doctor using video or secure text chat. No emails, no surveys, no waiting - you'll have a live conversation with a real doctor. Our U.S. board-certified doctors can answer your questions, diagnose your condition and prescribe medications. It's easy to use, confidential, and costs just $45 per visit and will coordinate with your insurance.  The School Insurance Pool will provide ancillary supplies (scale, blood pressure cup, thermometers) for any school pool member who 'opens' a virtual clinic in their district.  For more information on this, please contact Kari Bailey at kari.bailey@swsc.org.

Division of Special Education Services

Due Process Monitoring Update:  All the member districts in SW/WC Service Cooperative are currently involved with due process compliance monitoring.  To date, 

676 -- special education files reviewed

2184 -- number of original citations

1452 -- number of citations corrected during first window

732 -- citations remaining

66% -- of citations were corrected during first window

104 -- files had NO citations from the very beginning

Many thanks to district staff members and cooperative staff members for all their hard work with this process.  It is a huge undertaking and could not be done without the collaborative efforts between the those involved.

Upcoming Trainings:

**CPI Full Training in Cosmos on December 17th-18th

**Rick Wormelli Workshop on "Grading and Assessing" on January 3rd in Pipestone

Division of Teaching & Learning Services

Sumdog Math Contest Continues to Grow!  In 2011 the SW/WC SC established a relationship with Crocodile Clips, a company based in Edinburgh, Scotland to encourage the love of math through interactive on-line games. Crocodile Clips are the developers of SumDog and a variety of other online educational products. Each Sumdog math game covers 100 numeracy topics across 10 levels, and most are multiplayer - letting students create their own avatar and compete with other students around the world. There is no charge for teachers to establish teams or for students to play the Sumdog games and additional administrative features to the site can be purchased by schools if they are interested.  During the first year, 2,247 students participated in the SW/WC regional contests.  That number grew to 5,133 in 2012-13 and we already had 2,143 students from 35 schools participate in the October 2013 contest.  Those student correctly answered over half a million question during the first of 3 weeklong contests!    Additional contests will be held in the winter and spring of 2014. More information about those contests will be sent to schools as soon as the details are available.  Encourage your students to try Sumdog for free at www.sumdog.com


Conference for Young Writers:  There are 854 participants from 31 districts registered for the 22nd Annual Conference for Young Writers on January 8, 2014.  The keynote speaker is Debra Frasier, author and illustrator, from Minneapolis.  Twenty additional presenters will offer hands-on classes on a wide variety of topics related to writing.


Spelling Bee:  Schools participating in the Spelling Bee Program are busy planning their classroom and district Spelling Bees which will be held in January.  Local winners will advance to the Regional Spelling Bee on February 11 in Redwood Falls.


Creative Writing:  Remind students that the submission deadline for the Creative Writing Contest is January 17, 2014.  This contest is for students in grades 3-12 with categories of Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Non-Fiction (grades 5-12).  More details are available on our website.  The students' written entries are first screened by SMSU creative writing students who score the submissions according to a rubric.  Each submission is scored by multiple student judges.  The entries with the highest scores are submitted to the final judges, faculty in the SMSU Creative Writing Program.  An awards ceremony will be held on Sunday afternoon, April 27, 2014 for finalists, their families and teachers.


United Way of SW MN:  The 7th Annual Parent Education Seminar will feature Dr. David Walsh, presenting information about parenting in the age of technology.   


For more information,visit:


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The SW/WC Service Cooperative is a public agency dedicated to meeting the needs of our members by providing high quality programs through partnership, innovation, leadership and service.