Park Rapids School Board closes 2022, approves ’23 budget

The district spent about $14,423 per student in 2021-22.

Park Rapids Area High School Park Rapids Enterprise file photo / Oct. 20, 2021
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The Park Rapids School Board on Nov. 21 approved the district’s actual revenues and expenditures for fiscal year 2022, which ended June 30.

According to a worksheet distributed to the school board, district revenues and transfers-in totaled about $58.25 million last year, while expenditures and transfers-out totaled $31 million.

This left fund balances totaling $39.9 million including $27.5 million in the building construction fund. Meanwhile, the district’s long-term indebtedness increased from $15.8 million to $43.6 million with the issue of new bonds for facility improvements.

With operating expenditures totaling about $24.65 million for the year and an average daily attendance of about 1,709, the district spent about $14,423 per student in 2021-22.

In the same motion, the school board also approved the district’s fiscal 2023 budget, projecting revenues totaling about $48.68 million, expenditures of $32.7 million and an ending fund balance of $55.9 million as of June 30, 2023.


In consent items and general business, the school board:

  • Hired Nichole Weston as co-head speech coach, Kate Hendrickson as C-team girls basketball coach and John Wilhelm as a bus driver. 
  • Posted a vacant position as speech language pathologist. 
  • Heard that school board chair Sherry Safratowich will be honored at the Minnesota School Boards Association’s recognition luncheon Jan. 12, 2023 for her 30 years of service as a school board member. 
  • Acknowledged $800 in donations from Itasca-Mantrap Cooperative Electrical Association to three elementary classrooms and a donation of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) supplies from to Katelyn Kannegeiser’s third-grade classroom.
  • Heard Superintendent Lance Bagstad report that the food service program’s “free December” incentive has met its goal, bringing in a couple hundred applications for free and reduced-price meals, with several students qualifying and the increase in state aid surpassing the cost of the incentive.
  • Heard Century School administrators report about recent parent-teacher conferences. Elementary assistant principal Steph Mercil said she plans to visit the Up North Learning Center in Walker, where a student from Park Rapids will be going to school. She said elementary report cards will go home on Dec. 1, and the school is hoping to fill positions for a Title I teacher and special education paraprofessionals.
  • Heard Century Principal Mike LeMier report 116 students in grades 1-8 are in the Targeted Services after-school program with more expected to join in January, and currently 11 teachers.
  • Heard High School Principal Jeff Johnson report about “mini-trainings” staff have been taking on such topics as signs that a student is under the influence of today’s drugs of choice, how to apply a tourniquet, social-emotional learning and conflict resolution.
  • Heard Community Education Director Jill Dickinson report that the Century Adventures after-school program averages 122 students per day and continues to grow. 
  • Heard PAWN Special Education Director Eva Pohl report that her team is preparing to apply for two years of funding for the Alternative Delivery of Specialized Instructional Services (ADSIS), described as an intervention program to prevent the need for special ed referrals.
  • Heard transportation supervisor David Synstegaard report there is a “dire need” for substitute bus drivers, with the need for drivers expected to increase next year.
  • Heard that in a Nov. 7 performance review and evaluation, the school board found that both themselves and Bagstad showed satisfactory progress and performance. 
  • Received an enrollment report indicating that the district's K-12 enrollment dropped from 1,629 on Oct. 13 to 1,605 on Nov. 17, with total enrollment (including pre-K, early childhood and alternative learning programs) decreasing from 1,762 to 1,741.
  • Set special board meeting dates for 6 p.m. Jan. 9, Jan. 23 and Feb. 21, 2023, due to the regular meeting dates conflicting with the New Year’s, Martin Luther King Jr. and Presidents’ Day holidays. 
  • Approved payments presented for November, totaling $1,727,400.

The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5 at the Frank White Education Center.

The school board learned Jan. 23 that the district is part of a group of districts partnering in a $3.8 million DHS grant to increase mental health services in the schools.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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