The Park Rapids School Board heard from the school principals on Tuesday about plans and personnel needs for the 2021-22 school year.
Elementary Principal Mike LeMier said the lower school will hold steady at 31 sections from kindergarten through grade 4, only changing from seven first-grade classrooms to six and adding a seventh kindergarten classroom.
He said they plan to have smaller class sizes and will need additional staff support for Title I and English Language Learners.
Middle School Principal Shawn Andress said her school will continue with its current 22 sections and its commitment to the middle-level Alternative Learning Center.
Andress said staffing priorities will focus on replacing seasoned staff members who retired this year, including special education teachers and paraprofessionals. She talked about hiring a full-time substitute teacher for Century School and said she and LeMier plan to add a shared staff position to support students needing healthcare.
High School Principal Jeff Johnson said he expects about 150 new freshmen this fall, of whom 140 have already registered. He projected that the high school will have 530 students next year, the most in his 12 years as principal.
Johnson said his 32 full-time teachers are normally expected to teach five class periods per trimester. Noting that extra sections will be needed for such core classes as ninth grade English, he said he will need to add 10 sixth-hour assignments next year.
Johnson said he hopes to use some COVID recovery funds to help get students caught up and keep class sizes down, “so maybe some extra sixth-hour programming with that.”
Noting that a growing number of students from Century School’s Level 3 special education program are coming over to the high school, Johnson said he hopes to start a Level 3 program at the high school. This would require hiring a paraprofessional.
He said the high school hopes to continue employing a full-time substitute teacher next year, adding that the position proved helpful this year.
Business manager Kent Fritze said the district has received $394,000 in “Phase 1” COVID-19 relief funds, which can be used for credit recovery, summer programs and purchasing technology.
Fritze said there is no information yet about the amount of funding from Phases 2 and 3 or what it can be spent on.
In consent items and general business, the school board:
Hired Danielle Perry as a special education teacher, effective at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.
Approved the resignation of Rebecca Grant as an elementary teacher, effective at the end of the current school year.
Approved volunteers Zach Hocking, Brandon Gartner, Tim Fogarty and Travis Hunter as baseball coaches and Stacey Offerdahl as a middle school softball coach.
Acknowledged $1,875 in donations, including $1,500 from Barbara Skeffington for the Skeffington scholarship.
In a last-moment change to the consent agenda, Superintendent Lance Bagstad withdrew Concha Uzozie’s resignation as a special education teacher, eighth grade volleyball coach and eighth grade girls basketball coach, effective at the end of the current school year.
The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, April 19 at the Frank White Education Center, following a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. to canvass the results of the April 13 school bond election.