No more free lunch, Park Rapids School Board learns

The USDA is no longer funding free school meals, Business Manager Kent Fritze reported on June 20.

Park Rapids Area High School
Park Rapids Area High School
Enterprise file photo
We are part of The Trust Project.

Park Rapids School District Business Manager Kent Fritze announced that there will no longer be free school breakfasts and lunches next year, due to the U.S. Department of Agriculture ending the program that funded free foodservice.

“Now parents will be paying for their lunches, unless they qualify for the free and reduced,” he told the Park Rapids School Board on Monday. “So, I recommend that everybody fill out a free and reduced application. It impacts not just the lunch program, but a lot of our other programs’ financing, also.”

Administrative assistant Kim Splett added that the application form for free and reduced meals is changing, and advised waiting to apply until a link to the new form is available.

Revised and preliminary budgets

The school board approved a revised budget for the 2021-22 school year and a preliminary budget for 2022-23.

The revised budget for the current school year features general fund revenue of $21.8 million and expenses of $21.9 million. For all funds, it has revenues of $57.9 million and expenditures of $28.7 million.


Fritze and school board chair Sherry Safratowich repeatedly stressed that the preliminary budget for the upcoming school year is “very fluid.” The preliminary budget projects general fund revenues of $21.3 million and expenses of $22 million; for all funds, revenues of $48.7 million and expenditures of $32.7 million.

In consent items and general business, the school board:

The estimated $3.5 million facility may be under construction as early as May-June 2023.
Allison Offerdahl, who placed first nationally in the FFA's forestry competition, told the school board on Nov. 7 that she is changing her major to agricultural education.
The Park Rapids School Board heard Nov. 7 from organizers of the area's Aug. 30 summit on resilience.
The fund ended fiscal 2022 with a $27.5 million balance, to be spent on facility improvements approved by voters in 2021.

  • Approved the resignations of Lindsey Trompeter as Century Elementary secretary, effective June 30, and as PAWN Special Education secretary; and Angela Larson as a middle school Achievement and Integration paraprofessional.
  • Hired Larson as Century Elementary secretary, effective June 20; Melody Bober as a part-time elementary reading interventionist paraprofessional; Julie Tandsater as an elementary autism spectrum disorder paraprofessional; and Kari Pierce as an elementary blind-visually impaired paraprofessional.
  • Heard High School Principal Jeff Johnson report that art teacher Michael Hartung is now qualified to teach fine arts for college credit. 
  • Heard Community Education Director Jill Dickinson report that 95-105 kids are participating daily in the summer Century Adventures program. She also discussed a trip to a Red Hawks baseball game on June 16 and an upcoming trip to the Medora Musical.
  • Heard Facilities Director Alan Vanderstad report that a fire marshal’s inspection of temporary classrooms for summer and fall went well, and found that all issues spotted during the previous inspection had been corrected. “We’re good for another three years,” he said.
  • Heard Vanderstad announce that the gyms will be closed the weeks of June 27 and July 4 for sanding and refinishing.
  • Approved workers’ comp coverage through Berkley, volunteer insurance through RAM Mutual and property liability coverage through the Minnesota Insurance Scholastic Trust (MIST). Fritze said Berkley’s premium went down almost $11,000 from last year; MIST went up about $16,000; and the RAM Mutual premium has stayed the same for the last 17 years at $476.
  • Renewed the district’s membership in the Minnesota State High School League and the Minnesota Rural Education Association for 2022-23.
  • Received an enrollment report showing that as of June 15, K-12 enrollment totaled 1,563 – down 11 students since May 12. Districtwide, including the voluntary pre-K, early childhood, high school Alternative Learning Center and virtual academy programs, enrollment totaled 1,721 – a decrease of 14 students on the month.
  • Approved payments presented for June, totaling $2,318,960.

The school board went into a closed session due to attorney-client privilege, to discuss pending or threatened labor grievance arbitration.
The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, July 11 at the Frank White Education Center.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
What to read next
“It’s a voluntary program or classroom that’s in schools throughout Minnesota,” explained MHS Principal Schmidt , that’s designed to assist students academically, socially and emotionally.
Nets pulled this fall show that an eight-year-long effort to restore lake sturgeon to the waters of Big Stone Lake and Upper Minnesota River watershed is producing results.
A warm, winter evening greeted the many who stopped downtown Park Rapids for Friday's festivities.
Gladen Construction Inc. of Laporte was awarded the bid to construct a tunnel under U.S. Hwy. 71.