Our work as an Innovation Zone with Farmington Area Schools lasted three years, beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, and led to several collaborative and innovative opportunities. In part due to this unique opportunity, we continue to infuse innovation into our work still today.
The Minnesota Legislature enacted the Innovation Zone designation in 2012 to allow groups of two or more school districts to work collaboratively to improve student and school outcomes. While the designation does not come with any additional funding, it does provide the designated districts with the flexibility from some mandates and exemptions in order to think and act creatively in customizing learning and meeting the unique needs of students.
The Innovation Zone designation was announced by the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) after the two districts’ application was selected by MDE and representatives from the state’s major educational organizations.
Though separated by about 40 miles, Spring Lake Park in the north metro and Farmington in the south metro, the districts are closely aligned and share a collective vision for infusing more innovation into the future of learning. The two districts were among the first metro-area districts to implement 1:1 digital learning initiatives to provide digital devices for all students. The districts have worked cooperatively on initiatives and continue to collaborate on projects.
The video below was included as part of the two district’s Innovation Zone application.