Superintendent Lance Bagstad told the Park Rapids School Board on Tuesday that the state legislature is going back to the drawing board regarding proposed updates to the schools’ social studies curriculum and standards.

Bagstad said that according to a legislative update by the Minnesota Rural Education Association, bills about the new standards were presented in both houses and there was “a lot of consternation” in the halls.

He said there has also been discussion about issues with last year’s update of the science curriculum. As a result, Bagstad said, the legislature is discussing “pressing pause” and reconsidering the content as well as the process of adopting new educational standards.

Noting that the process includes a series of drafts with a period for public comment after each, Bagstad said, “We’re at the beginning of a process. We just need to work through that process,” and added that the community’s legislators are aware of local concerns.

Funding proposals

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Business Manager Kent Fritze explained two proposals regarding state funding of public schools for the next two years.

“We are monitoring the coming debate,” he said, adding that the state provides 80 percent of the district’s income.

Fritze said one scenario, offered by Gov. Tim Walz, is to increase state funding by 1 percent in 2022 and 2.5 percent in 2023. Another proposal in the legislature calls for a 2 percent increase each year, linked to the rate of inflation.

“But we also have a projected $1.4 billion deficit,” said Fritze. “So, we’re hopeful, but cautiously optimistic.”

In consent items and general business, the school board:

  • Approved the high school’s 2021-22 Panther Tracks registration book.

  • Appointed election judges for the April 13 school district special election. Named in the resolution were head election judges Gertrude Maninga at the Frank White Education Center, Eileen Hache at the Osage Community Center and Joyce Harvey at the Lake George Town Hall, plus six more full-day judges, nine partial day judges and 11 backup judges.

  • Hired Dotti Seifert as a prom committee co-adviser and Rod Mackay as a custodian.

  • Approved the resignations of Alissa Anderson as a blind and visually impaired teacher, effective at the end of the school year, and Jackie Hoernemann as a high school paraprofessional, effective Feb. 19.

  • Increased the high school head cook position to 6.25 hours per day.

  • Acknowledged donations totaling more than $1,113, including $500 toward the Schumacher Scholarship from the Minnesota State High School Soccer Association and another $500 toward the same from Corey and Katherine Maple.

  • Received an enrollment report showing that 1,543 students in K-12 were enrolled as of Feb. 12, up three students since last month. The biggest gain was at Century Middle School, which had a net increase of five students. Districtwide, including preschool and the high school Alternative Learning Center, enrollment increased by four students to a total of 1,676.

  • Heard Bagstad read a media release about School Board Recognition Week, celebrated Feb. 22-26 statewide, honoring board members’ commitment to the district and its children. “School board members give Park Rapids area citizens a voice in education decision-making,” he said. “Their contribution is a year-round commitment.”

  • Discussed posting information boards about proposed school improvements at all three schools and having board members attend winter events at each school to explain the concept drawings to potential voters in the April 13 special school bond election.

  • Approved the second reading of a policy about complaints.

  • Approved payments presented for February, totaling $1,228,574.

The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, March 1 at the Frank White Education Center.