Park Rapids School Board closes Frank White era
During their last meeting in the soon-to-be-demolished school building, board members terminated a probationary teacher and recognized a student gymnast.
The Park Rapids School Board met for the last time at the Frank White Education Center on Monday, April 17.
With demolition of the building slated to begin in May, the school board will meet in the “aquarium” at the high school media center starting at 6 p.m. Monday, May 1.
Main business items included approving the principals’ contract for 2023-24 and terminating middle school teacher Beth Winkler Hegtvedt’s employment effective at the end of the school year.
School board member Jay Pike made a motion approving the resolution not to renew probationary, seventh- and eighth-grade language arts teacher Winkler Hegtvedt’s teaching contract. The motion passed unanimously.
Minnesota statute defines a teacher’s probationary period as their first three years of teaching experience within a single district or their first year teaching in any district thereafter.
In administrative staff reports to the school board, Business Manager Kent Fritze voiced concern about unfunded mandates being considered by the State Legislature.
Asked for clarification, Fritze said about 10 mandates have been proposed, including a $25-per-hour minimum wage and having school districts cover all of employees’ health insurance.
If enacted, he said, these mandates would cost the school district an additional $1.8 million with no additional revenue to meet those costs. “It’s kind of scary, what they’re proposing,” he said.
The school board also recognized state gymnastics participant Halle Landstrom.
Activities Director Jeremy Nordick recited an extensive list of Landstrom’s career accomplishments, including setting school records in vault and floor, coming within 0.1 of a point of the top six at state and earning All State in floor and All State honorable mention in vault, beam and all-around.
“She goes down as one of the best gymnasts to ever walk through these hallways,” said Nordick.
Nordick reported the school’s esports teams placed second in state championships for three different divisions, besides Park Rapids students’ successful showings at FFA regionals and BPA state.
Bus driver shortage
Transportation Director Jack Johnson reported that despite hiring Randy George as a full-time driver effective by the end of August, it will still be challenging to schedule drivers for spring routes.
“Drivers need a little time off, too,” he said. “So we’re kind of juggling that, but it seems to be, at this point, OK.”
Johnson said the district should be able to take possession of two new buses around the end of July.
In consent items and general business, the school board:
- Approved the resignations of Clare Knudson as a high school secretary and Brian Johnson as a junior high football coach.
- Approved volunteer Peter Franz as a baseball coach.
- Approved a first reading of the Century Adventures handbook.
- Set upcoming school board meeting dates for 6 p.m. Monday, May 1 and 15, June 5 and 19, July 10 and 24, Aug. 7 and 21; Tuesday, Sept. 5 and Monday, Sept. 18. The July dates are a week later than regularly scheduled, and Sept. 5 is the day after Labor Day and the first day of school.
- Received an enrollment review showing that from March 16 to April 13, K-12 enrollment stayed about the same at 1,576 students, while total enrollment including pre-K, early childhood and alternative education held steady at 1,715 (0.2% less than last month). Principal Matt LeMier said 109 kindergartners are already enrolled for September, leaving 11 slots open, and plans are underway for three-week summer sessions in June and August.
- Acknowledged various donations from local businesses to the school district for teacher appreciation week.
- Approved payments presented for April totaling $1,664,910.
The school board also held a closed session regarding negotiation strategies.