South Washington County Schools

South Washington County Schools completes purchase of Valley Crossing

Valley Crossing Elementary School is now owned and operated by South Washington County Schools. What was a 20-year tri-district partnership has concluded. For the 2016-17 school year, the district plans to maintain the program and opportunities that are in place at Valley Crossing, including the current multiage programming and the addition of Gateway.

The transition process continues with a variety of parent and student opportunities taking place to prepare for the 2016-17 year when the district’s Gateway program will transition into Valley Crossing, and also for the fall of 2017 when new attendance boundary families will become part of the school community.

The school’s principal is Dr. Lela Olson, who has been in the position since 2014. Her previous leadership experience includes serving as a principal in Crookston Public Schools, the Academy of Bioscience in New Brighton’s executive director, and a lead teacher for Northeast Metro Intermediate School District 916. Dr. Olson also has experience in various roles supporting special education as well as elementary teaching experience.

Dr. Olson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing from Augustana College, a Master of Arts in Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota, and a Doctorate in Work and Human Resource Education from the University of Minnesota. She is licensed as a K-12 Principal.

Families interested in a special information night about multiage programming can visit the school on Monday, Jan. 23 at 5:30 p.m. While this is intended for those who are considering kindergarten at Valley Crossing, all ages are welcome to attend.

November 2016 Update - Nov. 1 informational session held

The school district continues to have conversations about the final transition for Valley Crossing Elementary School. Beginning in the fall of 2017, the newly assigned attendance boundary families will join existing families, and also the Gateway program. This will occur as the Stillwater School District residents currently assigned to Valley Crossing return to Stillwater schools.

To update parents on progress being made, an informational meeting was held on Nov. 1 at the school. Informational topics included physical space, enrollment, program selection and staffing process. The presentation is now available here.

Most recently, the plans for walls to be added to the school are leading to a compromise solution. The plan is still to have solid walls at the fronts of all the classrooms and folding whiteboard walls in between all classrooms. The draft plan was shared with the Steering Committee in October and an update, including the map linked below, was shared with the School Board at their Nov. 3 meeting.

The staff agree that the current plan allows for closed space, as well as multiple rooms to share space on both sides of the neighborhoods. It also allows for various numbers of teachers to be on a team. This will be important as the number of multiage and single grade sections will fluctuate from year to year depending on enrollment. 

Existing Plan for Adding Walls to Valley Crossing

Information from other engagement opportunities

School Board updates: Assistant Superintendent Julie Nielsen provides updates on Valley Crossing to the School Board on a monthly basis. The Board meetings are available here, with the most recent update provided on June 23. Nielsen shares the work of the Steering Committee and the many transition activities taking place during the updates.

June 1: Gateway parent meeting: All Gateway families were invited to a focused session on the transition of Gateway students to Valley Crossing in the fall of 2016. The purpose of the evening was to welcome families and share information about enrollment, curriculum and planning, equipment, supplies and materials, physical space and location of classrooms, Responsive Classroom, and professional development. Gateway staff were in attendance and assisted in the presentation and answering of questions. The presentation is available here.

May 18: Parent engagement session: Existing Valley Crossing families and newly assigned Gateway and attendance boundary families were invited to a session on May 18 to hear information and provide feedback on the areas of physical space, Responsive Classroom and touring the school. The information shared at this meeting included enrollment, physical space and more.

March 9: Discussion groups: On March 9, district leaders facilitated discussion groups included parent representatives, existing and newly assigned to the building, sharing their thoughts on the following areas. The compiled notes (as shared in the groups) are available. The following points of summary were provided by Steering Committee members facilitating the groups:

  • Program and Curriculum Delivery
    • Comfortable and/or familiar with the delivery model
    • Meeting students where they are at and challenging them – how that’s going to happen?
    • More open to learning different methods of delivery (differentiation)
  • Physical Structure
    • Walls
    • No Walls
    • Collaborative Spaces – all agreed that some type of space would be a good thing
  • Transition Activities
    • Desire for getting to know you activities
    • Communication
    • Building the culture and climate around things that happen during and outside of the school day
  • Questions
    • Walls
    • Staffing / seniority
    • Transitions
  • Assuring Student Success
    • Strong teachers
    • Building Community (intentionally)
    • Communications

Guiding Change document approved by the Board

The parameters for decision making regarding Valley Crossing were proposed to and approved by the School Board in March. The Guiding Change document is intended to provide what acceptable and unacceptable outcomes are to be given attention as the Steering Committee proposes recommendations for the fall of 2017, when a new community of learners comes together at Valley Crossing.

Attendance boundaries and Frequently Asked Questions

The north elementary attendance boundaries were approved by the School Board on Jan. 21, 2016. A Q & A is available to support the recommendation and implementation the boundaries as presented to the Board.

A set of frequently asked questions, with updated information, including plans for the transition of Valley Crossing for both 2016-17 and 2017-18 is available.


  • Julie Nielsen, Assistant Superintendent for Academic Excellence and Accountability
    Email: jnielsen@sowashco.org, Phone: 651-425-6203

Comments regarding Valley Crossing can be shared through the district’s “We’re Listening” opportunity. Select “Valley Crossing” from the dropdown menu.