Century Middle School has been awarded a $60,000 grant for life skills training, the Park Rapids School Board learned Monday.

Principal Shawn Andress said the school is one of 40 schools in the state selected to receive the Behavioral Health and Wellness grant from the Department of Human Services, out of 180 schools that applied.

“Grades 6, 7 and 8 will have research-based curriculum and (there will be) training for Mr. Andrew Lachowitzer to receive,” said Andress.

“This four-year grant, then, will allow us to also become part of a study” comparing schools that have implemented the curriculum against schools that have not, she said. “The students will be surveyed, and the families will be surveyed in that study for the (short- and long-term) effects of that curriculum.”

MREA, legislative update

The school board also heard a report about the Minnesota Rural Education Association’s (MREA) search for a new executive director.

Superintendent Lance Bagstad reported that the MREA board will be interviewing four candidates next week, as well as celebrating its 35th anniversary.

He also advised board members to follow the progress of some education-related bills through the State Legislature, including an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that he discussed at a previous meeting.

Since 1858, Art. XIII, Sec. 1 of the state constitution has read: “UNIFORM SYSTEM OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools. The legislature shall make such provisions by taxation or otherwise as will secure a thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state.”

The proposed amendment would replace that section with: “EQUAL RIGHT TO QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION. All children have a fundamental right to a quality public education that fully prepares them with the skills necessary for participation in the economy, our democracy, and society, as measured against uniform achievement standards set forth by the state. It is a paramount duty of the state to ensure quality public schools that fulfill this fundamental right.”

On a previous occasion, Bagstad pointed out that the amendment makes children its starting point, and its use of the term “state” is more inclusive than the original article’s references to the legislature.

In consent items and general business, the school board:

  • Hired Mya Claussen, Century School health professional, effective Feb. 18; Kevin Tupy, bus driver and custodian, effective March 2; Jennifer Moir, bus driver and recess monitor.

  • Approved the resignations of Rachel Landquist, paraprofessional, effective Feb. 28; Lydia Hildebrandt, first grade teacher; Kaitlyn Murphy, third grade teacher; and Shannon Hogan, fourth grade teacher, all effective at the end of the school year.

  • Approved the retirement of Nancy Bade, developmental adapted physical education (DAPE) teacher, with regret and thanks for her 21 years of service to the district.

  • Increased the DAPE position from 0.8 of full-time to full-time.

  • Acknowledged $5,495 in donations, including $5,000 from the Hewitt Family Charitable Fund to the Community Education program.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, March 16 at the Frank White Education Center.