The Park Rapids School Board on Aug. 3 discussed repeating last year’s offer of free food service for all students during December.

“It was a very positive thing for us to do … for families,” school board chair Sherry Safratowich recalled.

Business Manager Kent Fritze reminded the school board that when they did this last year, they also encouraged families to fill out the application for free and reduced-price meals.

“We also ended up with about a $15,000 cost that went into it,” he said. “But it was very positive.”

Board Secretary Kim Splett said she has received about 100 applications so far.

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She noted that, according to food service supervisor J.T. Clark, the Minnesota House of Representatives is working on a free school meal bill, but it is still in process. “They still need to turn in paperwork,” said Splett.

Superintendent Lance Bagstad called the free meals proposal “a win-win for families and also for the district. … I think it was very successful last year, and it helped a lot of people out during December.” He recommended bringing it back for action at a later meeting.

Activity fees

“Last year, at the same time, we brought forth a proposal to the board to eliminate activity fees,” Bagstad said.

Describing the results as positive, he said, “Moving forward, I’m not going to recommend reinstating (the fees). … We want to provide every opportunity for our kids to be active and involved.”

Bagstad added, “More than ever now, we realize how important relationships are for kids and families. Just look at the spring and how much they missed out in that. We want more and more students to be able to participate. … I think that forgoing activity fees was a good thing that this board did for our families and our school last year.”

Boards and committees

Safratowich reported that a Vote Yes committee, promoting passage of the school district’s bonding referendum, is coming together for its first meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11 at the Park Rapids American Legion.

Bagstad reported that the Minnesota Rural Education Association held its July board meeting virtually and is planning for a virtual fall conference.

The MREA hopes to make the conference “very cost effective for all of our districts to be able to participate in,” he said, estimating that it would cost a district of Park Rapids’ size $500 for all staff and board members to attend.

In consent items and general business, the school board:

  • Scheduled the school district’s Truth in Taxation meeting for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21 at the Frank White Education Center.

  • Hired Nic Lembcke as junior high volleyball coach.

  • Acknowledged a $2,500 donation from the 3M Foundation to the Community Education STEM program (science, technology, engineering and math).

  • Approved the 2020-21 purchase of service agreements with PAWN Special Education.

  • Approved families’ access to supplemental coverage with K-12 Student Accident Insurance.

  • Approved the first reading of a 2020-21 technology implementation handbook and policies regarding distribution of non-school sponsored material on school premises, corporal punishment and the extended school year for special ed students.

  • Approved the second reading of the 2020-21 employee, elementary school, middle school, high school, activities and substitute handbooks, coaches manual and student rights and responsibilities, code of conduct and discipline policy.

  • Tabled approval of fundraisers for the 2020-21 school year, as well as first readings of policies about student attendance, student dress and appearance, and enrollment of non-resident students.

The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17 at the Frank White Education Center.