Despite a setback in the Nov. 3 election, PRoject 309 – seeking taxpayer approval for a bond to improve school facilities – remains on the Park Rapids School Board’s agenda.

Educational consultant Jason Splett told the school board on Dec. 7 that his firm, ICS, is working on concept designs for the bus garage.

Also, Splett said, he and Superintendent Lance Bagstad plan to meet with city staff to discuss potential sites for the garage.

He added that they are still open to more community feedback.

Bagstad read extracts from some additional letters the district has received about the school bonding question that failed on Nov. 3. He said one resident hinted that some voters believed the bond would cause their property taxes to increase dramatically.

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In general, Bagstad said, the letters advise the district to communicate to voters that taxes would go up only $9 per month on average; to focus on only one ballot question, instead of the two separate questions of Nov. 3; and to consider that they only need to sway a small group – as few as 57 voters – in favor of the proposal.

School board chair Sherry Safratowich polled board members about their thoughts and what else they have heard from the community about the bond issue. Their general sentiment was in favor of moving forward with a special election in spring 2021.

“Somebody did ask me, are we going to keep doing this until it does pass?” board member Clayton Hoyt reported.

“The answer to that question is 'yes,'” said board member Gary Gauldin.

Safratowich said the board would like to receive more feedback from the public before deciding on Dec. 21 whether to go forward with a special election, and on which date – either April 13 or May 11, 2021.

In consent items and general business, the school board:

  • Approved a $500 donation from Itasca-Mantrap Co-op Electrical Association to the high school Alternative Learning Center.

  • Approved donations totaling $6,464 from the Park Rapids Education and Activities Foundation (PREAF) to various school programs, including $1,500 to the boys hockey program for game socks, practice jerseys and Hudl membership; $1,500 to the gymnastics program for a sound system and speakers; $1,800 to the girls basketball program for junior high uniforms; and $1,281 to the boys basketball program for varsity warm-ups.

  • Heard that PREAF raised $19,800 at its annual french fry sale in November.

  • Approved volunteer Amber Schroeder as a speech coach.

  • Recognized cross-country runner Darryl Etter and girls swimming team members Emma Vrieze, Ellie Ulvin and Aleah Voigt for qualifying for state competition.

  • Moved their second meeting in January 2021 from Monday, Jan. 18, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to Tuesday, Jan. 19. They also discussed moving their second February meeting to Feb. 16 due to Presidents Day falling on Feb. 15, but action on this was deferred until January.

  • Scheduled their annual performance review of Bagstad and their board self-review to follow the Jan. 19, 2021 meeting.

The school board’s next meeting, including a Truth in Taxation hearing, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21 at the Frank White Education Center.