Braves fans will have a new way to watch live-streamed home games, concerts, graduations and other school events.

The Menahga School Board approved the purchase of two Pixellot sports broadcast systems, at a cost of $2,500 each.

High School Principal Mark Frank explained that free programs the district had used to livestream are no longer available. “Everyone wants subscription-based. It’s just the way things are going now,” he said, mentioning Netflix, Disney-Plus, Amazon Prime and ESPN as examples.

After speaking with other school districts and West Central Telephone Association (WCTA), Frank discovered Pixellot. Sponsored by the National Federation of State High School Association, Pixellot is a subscription- and web-based application.

Each Pixellot system has dual cameras that capture a panoramic view of the court or field, track the ball, zoom in or out on players – and it’s all automated, Frank said. The score, period/quarter and time remaining in the game are posted in a corner of the screen. The district simply feeds the sports schedule into Pixellot, then Pixellot automatically records and webcasts, as needed.

Coaches can record tryouts and practices for internal-only viewing as well.

To offset the district’s costs, WCTA agreed to partner with the Menahga School District. WCTA will purchase one Pixellot, plus pay $1,000 toward installation. This unit will be placed in the new gymnasium. The five-year agreement stipulates that WCTA would have exclusive rights to the footage, Frank said. “They’re looking at creating, within their WCTA network, a Menahga channel. It would be channel 564. They would then rebroadcast our activities on that channel afterwards.”

Frank said another corporate partner could be sought for the second Pixellot unit, which could be installed in the old gym or in the football field.

In order to live-stream the Braves games, fans must subscribe to Pixellot. A monthly subscription is $10.99, Frank said, which can be cancelled at any time. There is also a yearly subscription for $70. For each annual subscription, $20 is donated to the school, which can be set aside for camera maintenance or upgrades.

Sebeka and Verndale school districts currently use Pixellot, Frank noted, and Staples-Motley is considering it.

“It’s a great opportunity, in my opinion, for our community and our families,” Frank said.

The board unanimously approved the purchases.

Service animal policy

The board approved a Minnesota School Board Association policy regarding service animals allowed at school.

“Across the state and probably across the nation, we hear about people with their service animals,” said Superintendent Kevin Wellen, mentioning a woman who was kicked off a domestic flight when she brought her “emotional support peacock” onboard.

“There’s actually a legal definition of service animals, and it’s a dog, or believe it or not, a tiny horse,” Wellen said, adding the school policy does not include therapy animals.

“I’ve never seen a horse that’s housebroke,” commented board member Julia Kicker.

The school policy defines the tasks that are performed by a service animal and the handler’s responsibilities. Wellen said approving the policy is a proactive move because service animals are becoming more common.

The board waived the second reading and adopted the new policy immediately.

In other business, the board did as follows:

  • Accepted a $5,000 grant from 3M for the Menahga robotics team, plus another $550 from the Itasca Mantrap Electric Cooperative.

  • Learned that newly designed Menahga High School letterman jackets were unveiled.

  • Learned that Wellen is communicating with Sen. Tina Smith about creating a national program for free school lunches, similar to Menahga School’s program.

  • Learned that there are just punch list items left on the new building. Wellen said several contractors will be at the school over Christmas break to wrap those up. He noted there is just under $1 million left to pay, most of which is being retained until work is complete.

  • Approved Jake Oyster, head wrestling coach; Wade Hukriede and Mark Anson, assistant wrestling coaches; Hunter Schroeder, junior high boys basketball coach; Nichole Weston, robotics coach; Toby Weston, assistant robotics coach; Kiana Schauer, wrestling cheer coach and Dan Besonen, middle school Knowledge Bowl advisor.

  • Approved a request for the district to transport hockey players to and from Park Rapids for the paired sport when practice is after school.

  • Learned that the Menahga Elementary School’s drive for the local food shelf brought in 1,448 items and $513. As a prize, Elementary Principal Jeannie Mayer wore a clown suit and roller skates.

  • Learned that 38 juniors and seniors are signed up to take the district-sponsored ACT test in February. The district has received 91 opt out forms to date.

The next regular meeting and truth in taxation hearing is 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16 at the media center.