Park Rapids School Board realigns Century School staff for ’23-24

Century School Principal Mike LeMier said adding Friday pre-K sessions can wait.

Jill Stevenson, director of curriculum and instruction with Park Rapids Area Schools, introduces the school board on March 20, 2023, to the precalculus curriculum a faculty committee is recommending for use in college-level math classes.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

The Park Rapids School Board on Monday unanimously approved a slate of programming changes requested by school administrators for the 2023-24 school year.

Century School Principal Mike LeMier withdrew his recommendation at the school board’s March 7 meeting to increase two volunteer pre-K (VPK) teachers from 0.8-time to full-time, to provide Friday programming.

“I still think that’s the direction that we need to move,” he said, “but working with our VPK team, I think that we can work to find a good solution to make that happen in the future.”

Meanwhile, he held with his recommendation to add an additional K-6 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teacher and to reduce one staff position each for grades 7-8 English, math and science.

School board member Dana Kocka questioned how the reduction would affect the teacher-student ratio for next year’s seventh and eighth graders. Assistant Principal Mark Frank calculated that the ratio would still be lower than the state average.


Kocka also asked whether the cuts would cost anyone their job. School board chair Sherry Safratowich explained that there are no cuts, but only realignments.

Superintendent Lance Bagstad clarified that they are looking at letting one non-tenured teacher go, but LeMier said the other two teachers are licensed in other areas the school will need.

Math curriculum

Jill Stevenson, director of curriculum and instruction, reported the recommendations of the district’s math resource review team.

She explained that the schools’ current math textbooks are obsolete. The K-2 math workbooks can no longer be ordered, and for several years teachers have had to use workbooks from another state and supplement them as needed to meet Minnesota standards.

Stevenson added that for grades 6-12, the need is to align instructional materials to provide a smooth progression.

She went on to describe how the team evaluated seven different resources for focus and coherence, mathematical rigor and meeting state standards, and usability.

At the end of the process, Stevenson said, the team recommended Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s “Math Expressions” for grades K-5, Gina Wilson's “All Things Algebra” for grades 6-12 and SAVVAS Demana’s “Precalculus” for college-level math classes in the high school.

Stevenson laid out an implementation plan for the new materials, including live virtual training sessions, along with a six-year budget of $98,680 for “Math Expressions” (including “consumable” workbooks), $9,530 for “All Things Algebra” and $6,375 for the precalculus book, totaling $114,585.


She noted that the World’s Best Workforce committee unanimously voted in support of the materials. Teachers Val Burton and Gabe Sturtz also spoke up in favor of the curriculum.

Bagstad advised the school board to spend the next two weeks talking with math teachers, asking questions about the materials, and make a decision next month.

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