Free admission for students to continue in Park Rapids

Free admission for Park Rapids students to school activities will continue next school year. The Park Rapids School Board voted this week to continue its policy to allow students into school events at no charge, with some modifications. The board...

Free admission for Park Rapids students to school activities will continue next school year. The Park Rapids School Board voted this week to continue its policy to allow students into school events at no charge, with some modifications. The board decided to extend that perk to the 80-plus age group and charge out of town students to attend Park Rapids activities.

The school district last year implemented the free admission policy to all students and instructed Superintendent Lance Bagstad and other administrators to revisit the issue for the 2016-17 school year. On Monday, Bagstad presented the school board with information showing the district lost about $9,000 in revenue with its free admission policy. Bagstad reported revenue for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years averaged about $45,000. Revenue for 2015-16 was $36,592.

The board decided the lost revenue at the gate is worth increased attendance, particularly by Park Rapids students and supporters.

"I personally think it was a great thing for the activities I was at," board member Dave Otterness commented. "I think we saw more students. However, if we were to take anything back I don’t know if we should let other students for free. That came as a solution to not having a student I.D. just to let every student in. If we want to charge other students I’m fine with that."

Board chair Sherry Safratowich commented the reason the policy to let every student, regardless of where they go to school, in free was due to the district not requiring student I.D.’s for activities and to simplify the process at the gate.


The question is how to separate and distinguish where students go to school and determine who should get charged. The district will rely on the honor system for admission, meaning if there is a question the ticket taker could simply ask the student where they attend school.

Otterness made the motion, seconded by Clayton Hoyt, to admit Park Rapids students and anyone age 80-plus into activities free of charge, with those ages 65-79 to pay the student price. The consensus of the board is to not require a pass, citing various potential issues involved. One issue being the difficulty in finding ticket-takers and the added pressure I.D.s could cause. The motion carried 4-1, with board member Gary Gauldin voting against. Gauldin supports the free admission policy for Park Rapids students but was unsure on some of the modifications to the policy. Students from other schools will be charged the student rate.

Activities Director John Schumacher commented how attendees from other schools are often surprised when they show up at the gate money in hand and are admitted free of charge.

Decrease in school meals served

The total number of meals served in the Park Rapids school district was down over 6,700 in 2015-16 compared to 2014-15. Food services director Tom Marcussen presented year-end information to the board at the June 20 meeting. The number of breakfast meals served in 2015-16 was down 4,855 from 58,076 in 2014-15 to 53,221. Lunch meals did not see quite as big of a drop. Lunches were down 1,852 in 2015-16. The district served a total of 175,335 lunch meals in 2015-16, compared to 177,189 in 2014-15.

Marcussen attributed some of the decrease in meals served to field trips, snow days and late starts.

"We are always looking to increase our school lunch participation and strive to provide the best product and nutritional meals we can," he said.

Marcussen explained many factors affect the number of meals served such as field trips, snow days and late starts.


"We are looking this year at very closely monitoring the number of home prepared lunches compared to last year at each grade level."

He said they are also looking at other ways to increase participation, such as starting earlier and allowing kids to eat breakfast while waiting for their day to begin. And offering alternatives to classes when available such as a sack lunch versus going through the traditional lunch line, this will save time and also offer another option to our students.

In another food service related matter, the board on Monday approved the district writing off a food service debt of $4,490. This is debt accumulated over 10 years where families have chosen not to pay their meal bills. The district has taken numerous measures to try and collect the money owed over the years and this is the first time the district has written off the bad debt.

In other business Monday, the board approved the resignation of Mark Waller, varsity baseball coach and Pete Stahnke, head boys hockey coach.

The board also on Monday approved hiring Megan Cole, .7 FTE elementary physical education teacher and Denise Hemenway as PAWN secretary.

School board filing

The filing period for candidacy to run for a school board seat opens Aug. 2 and closes Aug. 16 at 5 p.m. The district will be electing three members to the board during this year’s General Election on Nov. 8. Seats currently held by board chair Sherry Safratowich, and board members Gary Gauldin and Dave Otterness are each up for four-year terms.

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