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Message from Leadership Council President Suzanne Sands

Dear Families, Staff, Member Districts, and Students:

This cooperative was established to support member districts in meeting the needs of students with disabilities because no district could effectively provide for all learners independently. In 2018, we began the implementation of a strategic plan developed through a deeply collaborative process that engaged all stakeholders. Since then, we have been on a journey of transformation in an effort to: 

  • further align our work to best practices;
  • utilize data to drive decision making;
  • make the cooperative financially sustainable, and;
  • respond to the diverse needs of our member districts.
  • Implementation of that plan has resulted in: 
  • new innovative service offerings;
  • increased number of students across the cooperative accessing education in the general education environment for 80% or more of their day;
  • increased student access to paid employment;
  • further alignment of professional learning offerings to member district needs;
  • increased financial transparency;
  • a master facility plan, and;
  • improved communications including the rebranding of the organization as TrueNorth Educational Cooperative 804.

Under the unwavering leadership of Dr. Kurt Schneider and his strong administrative team with the support of our amazing teachers, therapists, specialists and staff, TrueNorth: 

  • navigated the pandemic;
  • adapted to major changes to IDEA funding;
  • responded to the elimination of the use of restraint and time-out;
  • experienced leadership changes, and;
  • adjusted programs and services based on member district decisions. 

Change has been a constant challenge as well as a welcome shift in how the organization operates over the past four years. The process of developing this new strategic plan began in the spring because it was time, and because we need to ensure the changes we drive toward together are proactive. 

During the last year, we gathered qualitative and quantitative data and conducted a review of best practices in cooperation with the team from Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates. Stakeholders from across our member districts including parents, staff, administrators, board members and community partners provided input and engaged in each phase of this process. We refined our core values and developed new goals based on analysis of the data. It is my hope that within this plan each of you see opportunities for growth, initiatives that will benefit learners across our communities, and ways to participate in this work. Working together renews our commitment to the possibilities in every learner, every day. 

So, what is the value of the cooperative? Striving together to meet the diverse needs of all learners is more effective than each community, each district, each school and each family making the journey alone. 

TrueNorth will continue to grow toward our shared vision as a national leader and highly valued partner with a courageous commitment to inclusive communities that equally value all people and inspire them to be active participants in our world. 

On behalf of the entire Leadership Council, I am so proud to have been a part of this process and look forward to the collaborative work that allows us to realize our shared vision for our learners, our schools and our communities.



Suzanne Sands
Leadership Council President