Park Rapids Schools applying to join Heart O’ Lakes Conference

If accepted, the school would join Barnesville, Breckenridge, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Hawley, Frazee, Pelican Rapids and Perham in 2024-25.

Park Rapids Area High School, front entrance
Park Rapids Enterprise file photo, October 2021
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The Park Rapids School Board authorized athletics staff on Jan. 9 to apply to join the Heart O’ Lakes Conference.

Currently, the school belongs to the Mid-State Conference with Detroit Lakes, Crosby-Ironton, Aitkin, Pequot Lakes and Staples-Motley.

At the school board’s Dec. 19 meeting, Activity Director Jeremy Nordick proposed joining Barnesville, Breckenridge, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Hawley, Frazee, Pelican Rapids and Perham in Heart O’ Lakes, noting that Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls and Staples-Motley may also apply to join.

Kocka made the motion to approve the proposed conference change, pending approval by Heart O’ Lakes. Superintendent Lance Bagstad said the application is due by Feb. 1, and the conference will meet sometime after that. If they approve the application, he said, the change would take effect with the 2024-25 school year.

Kocka’s motion passed unanimously.


The school board also approved a girls hockey cooperative agreement with the Detroit Lakes, Perham, New York Mills, Wadena and Frazee schools, to be hosted at Detroit Lakes at no cost to the district.

Kocka made the motion, which passed unanimously.

‘Free December’ update

Business Manager Kent Fritze reminded the school board that in November, they approved providing free meals during December to students whose families filled out the application for free and reduced-price food service.

Fritze noted that the application not only allows qualifying students to have free and reduced meals, but also impacts the school district’s compensatory aid.

As a result, Fritze said, the school signed up 26 additional free-meal students and 28 new reduced-meal students. The incentive cost the district about $13,000 and added $141,000 to the district’s compensatory aid for 2024-25.

“So, I would say that it was a very successful campaign,” he said.

Reorganizational meeting

As the meeting opened, newly elected school board members Andrea Morgan and Colter Diekmann and returning board member Clayton Hoyt were sworn in for four-year terms.

In a reorganizational meeting for 2023, the school board:


  • Elected officers, including Sherry Safratowich as chair, Hoyt as vice-chair, Dana Kocka as clerk and Jay Pike as treasurer. 
  • Approved board member compensation, maintaining the current rate of $150 per pay period, plus $50 for the chair. 
  • Scheduled regular meetings for 6 p.m. Jan. 23, Feb. 6 and 21, March 7 and 20, April 3 and 17 and the first and third Monday of each month thereafter.
  • Designated the Enterprise as the district’s official newspaper.
  • Designated the following as official depositories for school district funds: Citizens National Bank for checking and Imprest fund; Edward Jones and CDs at Citizens National for scholarship fund; Northview Bank for cafeteria and student activities accounts; the Minnesota Liquid Asset Fund; Citizens National, Northview, Northwoods Bank, TruStar Federal Credit Union and the Minnesota Liquid Asset Fund for investments; and BNY Mellon/Pershing and Ehlers Inc. for the construction fund.
  • Approved the district’s membership in the Minnesota School Boards Association, the Northwest Service Cooperative, the North Country Vocational Cooperative, the Minnesota Rural Education Association, the Hubbard County Family Collaborative, PAWN Special Education and Sourcewell, and joint powers agreements for a city/county fueling facility and community center.

In consent items and general business, the school board:

  • Approved the resignations of Mckenna Thiele as an elementary paraprofessional; Sara Carroll as an elementary para, contingent on receiving a special education license; and Brandi McMahon as a health para.
  • Hired Garnet Mosse as an elementary para; McKenna Thiele as an intervener, certified American Sign Language interpreter and language facilitator; Sara Carroll as a 0.6-time speech language pathologist, contingent on licensure; and Amber Schroeder as a co-assistant speech coach.
  • Approved a memorandum of understanding with Many Lakes Home Care, an agreement with UCare, and a lease agreement with the Up North Learning Center.
  • Acknowledged donations including $900 worth of picnic tables and STEM kids from the Wolf Lake Wolf Pack baseball club and two sets of youth snowshoes via Donors Choose, both to Kristen Poehler’s second-grade classroom, and $600 from the class of 1963 to the high school scholarship fund.

The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23 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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