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Park Rapids Schools' new superintendent takes the helm

The official "changing of the guard" took place at this week's Park Rapids School Board meeting, superintendent Lance Bagstad assuming the chair formerly occupied by Glenn Chiodo.

"I look forward to a good, challenging school year," Bagstad told the teachers and administrative personnel arriving for the meeting. "I'm very excited about being here."

Century principal Joleen DeLaHunt reported "lots of exciting things coming" this fall when the school bells ring.

Four Century middle school teachers underwent training this summer for the Read 180 Program, described as "a comprehensive system of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development proven to raise reading achievement for struggling readers."

The program is for special education students in grades 5-8, offering a comprehensive reading, spelling, language and writing curriculum. Reading levels of students can range from grades 1-8.

The Student Success program is expanding to grades 5-7, Aaron Morris named coordinator. This program assists students who benefit from smaller group instruction. The rigorous curriculum is the same, but adapted to student needs.

Fifth graders were addressed in the first year of the program, sixth graders added in the second. Now, students in grades five through seven can participate in the program that is geared to assure students remain in school.

The district is planning to facilitate its own Alternative Learning Center, formal approval to be sought from the Minnesota Department next spring. There will be four components under the Park Rapids ALC umbrella. Two will be at the high school level, one for students at risk of dropping out and a second for credit recovery, geared to students who have failed classes and need to make up credits.

Targeted Services, a supplemental program that affords students extra attention in reading, math and personal social skills, will be expanding to grades K-8.

Students in grades 1-8, based on teacher recommendation, will meet after school Tuesdays and Thursdays from October through April. Kindergarteners will be eligible after Christmas.

After school snacks will be available to kids.

The summer program proved a success, with over 100 students arriving in July for the second session.

Students in grades K-4 will undergo testing in the fall, winter and spring to determine their reading fluency and comprehension. Students earning a green are on par or above, yellow raises a cautionary flag and red indicates intervention is needed.

The students "at risk" will undergo one-minute reading tests every two weeks so the kids can see their gains. Parents will be apprised of progress at conferences. The data will be used to guide instruction.

At the high school level, Jeff Johnson reported orientation will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29.

Johnson said he and high school counselor Susan Rassier are addressing necessary schedule changes with students.

High school sports are underway with 53 students in grades 9-12 participating in football, 36 students serving volleyballs over the net, 30 heading over hill and dale in cross country, 12 girls, 18 boys. Cross country may be expanded to fifth and sixth grades. Thirty-nine are participating in swimming and 20 in tennis.

Athletic trainer Angel Clark from St. Joseph's Area Health Services was commended for her "phenomenal" work with students and coaches.

In other action, the board:

n Approved the resignations of Mari Jo Lohmeier as 8th Hour coordinator and paraprofessionals Laurie Schmidt and Shari Emerson.

n Approved extra-curricular volunteers Chuck Bentley for middle school cross country and Barb Thomason, junior varsity girls tennis.

n Approved new hires Jody Sullivan as recess supervisor, Andrew Trudeau as bus driver and Susan Cassidy as Limited English Proficiency instructor.

n Learned the Community Education fall brochure is nearly complete and will soon enter mailboxes.