Stillwater Goes Back to School


Stillwater Area Public School students returned to school Monday. Please be sure to watch for children waiting for their bus, and walking and riding to and from school.

The new school year brings changes to Stillwater schools — including going back to school the week before Labor Day.

With the Labor Day holiday falling on Sept. 7, the Stillwater Board of Education voted to start before the holiday to allow school to wrap up the first week of June. A pre-Labor Day start is also being recommended for the 2016-17 school year.

There will not be class on Friday, Sept. 4 and Monday, Sept. 7. 

New Superintendent

Monday will be the first day of school for Stillwater’s new Superintendent Denise Pontrelli, who began her work as leader of the school district in July. New principals will take over at Stillwater Junior High School, Lily Lake, Marine and Withrow elementary schools.

Multi-grade classrooms

Some students at four elementary schools will have multi-grade classrooms this fall.

  • Lily Lake Elementary will have a classroom for a group of first- and second-graders 1, and another for third and fourth grade.
  • Andersen Elementary will have a classroom mixed with kindergarteners and first-graders.
  • Stonebridge Elementary will have a mixed classroom of students in fifth and sixth grade.
  • There will be multi-grade classrooms at Marine Elementary students in grades 3-6.

For students in the multi-grade classrooms, core instruction in subjects such as math and literacy will continue to be taught in single-grade level configurations, Stillwater Area Public Schools Community Engagement Manager Carissa Keister said. During other parts of the day, students will learn in multi-grade environments — focusing on personalized learning.

“By having multi-grade classrooms, we’ll  be able to better balance enrollment in our building,” Keister said. “In the past, class sizes in our school have varied – with some classes running higher than average and others running with fewer students. We’ve heard from both parents and staff that keeping class sizes within the acceptable range is important. With our multi-graded classroom, we’ll be able to keep all of our classes within the acceptable range.”

The average class size will fall within the district’s class size ratio of 26.42 to 32.42 students.

Here’s a glance at leadership changes for the 2015-16 school year:

Lily Lake Elementary:

  • Malinda Lansfeldt has returned to Lily Lake Elementary to serve as principal.
  • Mark Drommerhausen, former Lily Lake principal, is now working as a Principal on Special Assignment to oversee bond projects.

Marine and Withrow Elementary:

  • Stacey Benz is the new principal of Marine and Withrow elementary schools. Stacey Benz most recently worked as a middle school dean in the Spring Lake Park School District.

Stillwater Area High School:

  • Matt Kraft is serving as the new assistant principal. Kraft previously worked at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

Stillwater Junior High School:

  • Eric VanScoy is the new principal at SJHS. VanScoy most recently served as the assistant principal at Lake Middle School in Woodbury.

St. Croix Valley Area Learning Center (ALC):

  • Mary Leadem-Ticiu, an assistant principal at the high school, is overseeing the ALC.

District leadership:

  • Bob McDowell is the new Executive Director of Learning and Innovation. McDowell most recently served as principal for Sunrise Middle School in the White Bear Lake School District. He is responsible for curriculum, instruction and staff development.
  • Angie LaBounty is the new Director of Learning Analytics and Systems Improvement.  She most recently served as the assistant principal at Maplewood Middle School, and has also worked as a Common Core and Assessment Coordinator with Solution Tree. In her new role, LaBounty is overseeing assessments and working to analyze data to better understand what our students know and understand.
  • Rachel Larson has moved from her role as principal at Marine and Withrow elementary schools back to a district leadership role as the Director of Personalized Learning.

Coming Soon to Stillwater Area Public Schools

As a result of a voter-approved bond request, Stillwater Area Public Schools will build an addition and make renovations at the high school beginning in spring 2016, begin construction of a new elementary school in spring 2016 and make a variety of improvements to facilities across the district.

Grade configuration will change in 2017 by moving to preK-5 elementary schools, 6-8 middle schools and a 9-12 high school.

Here’s a look at the preliminary sketches of the high school:

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 11.28.18 PM

Here’s a look at the preliminary design of the new elementary school in Woodbury:

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 11.23.53 PM

Design teams will continue to work with architects to develop the facility proposals. More detailed plans will be shared in the coming months.

Want more local stuff?

Stillwater Current is on a mission to spread local news. 

If you like what you see, try our daily email.