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Student success coordinator to assist at-risk students

A "student success coordinator" will soon be joining the Century Middle School staff, the Park Rapids School District learning a $50,000 Blandin Foundation two-year grant will be forthcoming.

The coordinator will focus on a 20- to 25-student fifth grade group that has been identified based on needs, their parents invited to be a contributing component in the effort, superintendent Glenn Chiodo explained.

"Parents," he told the board this week, "are a huge piece of this. In some cases, it's the piece that's missing."

There will be a coordination of effort among the staff, he said, a format established. Until now, he indicated communication has been lacking, sometimes creating redundancy.

The students won't be separated or singled out, neither in academics nor in co-curriculars, he said.

"This is a prelude to a school within a school program," he said, noting the grant will provide the steppingstone. "The goal is for there to be a continuum; this is a segue process."

The district eventually will fund the "school within the school" project, he said.

"The grant will be the impetus."

The students served will not be special needs students; they will be in the middle group of academic achievers. Chiodo anticipates a 50-50 gender ratio.

"We have to find a way to open our arms to the parents," Chiodo said. "This process will help."

In other action, the board:

• Learned the first day of school went "very well," with 11 students who had not yet registered arriving at the high school Tuesday.

Principal Jeff Johnson expressed appreciation to students, teaching staff and custodians for their assistance in moving items back to classrooms after this summer's construction project.

Century principal Bruce Gravalin likened Day 1 to Lake Wobegon, a bevy of "happy, smiley kids" arriving to continue their education.

"Only four or five didn't make the right bus," he said. "We're off to a good start."

• Approved dissolution of the boys hockey cooperative of Park Rapids, Menahga and Nevis. This will allow the creation of a new cooperative with the three schools and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.

• Approved hiring kindergarten teacher Kimberly Lempola.