Park Rapids Schools seek state relief of building costs

The school board voted April 3 to ask the Minnesota Legislature to pass bills aiding school districts whose bonded projects are impacted by high construction inflation.

Park Rapids Area High School
Park Rapids Area High School
Enterprise file photo

The Park Rapids School Board approved a resolution Monday, April 1 supporting state legislation to relieve hardships on school districts whose bonded capital projects have been impacted by “unprecedented construction inflation.”

The “be it resolved” paragraph requests that the Minnesota Legislature pass Senate File 2615 and House File 2917, assisting local school districts that were affected by the high inflation in construction costs.

Superintendent Lance Bagstad said the Park Rapids School District is among about 14 school districts currently faced with similar difficulties after passing voter-approved bonds to fund school improvements.

Currently, District 309 is in the midst of a $51.65-million facilities improvement project approved by voters on Nov. 2, 2021, branded as PRoject 309.

“Whereas” statements in the resolution note that PRoject 309 was explained to voters as providing benefits for safety, security and accessibility, adding space for programming, improving college and career readiness and increasing the efficiency of educational spaces. However, upon opening bids for the project, it was found that cost increases exceeded 25% of pre-referendum estimates in some areas.


Despite taking steps to refine the plans to meet these challenges, the resolution says, the district “determined that future changes in project scope will threaten the goal of betterment of school facilities in the manner that local voters understood.”

The resolution also notes that the Legislature has “stepped up in the past” to aid school districts when “unusual circumstances beyond their control” affected the quality of their facilities.

School board member Clayton Hoyt’s motion to approve the resolution passed unanimously, absent board member Andrea Morgan.

Update on improvements

In a status report on PRoject 309, ICS project engineer Austin May said:

  • Contracts have been issued for high school additions and renovations, and the city council has granted a conditional use permit (CUP) for the work. State building plan review of the high school project is nearly complete, and the state has approved its review of the plumbing plan. Construction is expected to begin in about a month. 
  • Contracts have also been issued for Century School parking lot, pickup/drop-off area and playground improvements, and the CUP application is in process. Again, the state approved the plumbing plan, and playground equipment has been delivered. 
  • Contracts have been issued and a metal building has been ordered for construction of the district’s new bus garage, with a CUP application and state building and plumbing plan reviews in progress. 
    Newly-appointed transportation director Jack Johnson attended his first meeting of the Park Rapids School Board on Monday, April 3, 2023.
    Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

In consent items and general business, the school board:

  • Approved lease agreements to move PAWN Special Education and district administrative offices out of the Frank White Education Center, which is slated for demolition in May-June. PAWN will be leasing office space at Arise, formerly the Park Rapids Enterprise office, 203 Henrietta Ave. N. The lease for the district offices is for two suites at the Park Rapids Business Center, 104 Park Ave. N.
  • Hired Ethan Hemenway and Casey Fitzpatrick as custodians, Sally Kading as a 0.3-time Early Childhood Family Education parent educator and Jamie Pickar as a cook’s helper.
  • Accepted the resignations of Stacy Voigt as an elementary paraprofessional effective May 11, Stephanie Leslie as a middle school special education teacher and Matt Brandt as a junior high girls basketball coach.
  • Approved the math curricula recommended by the math resource review team, including “Math Expressions” for grades K-5, “All Things Algebra” for grades 6-12 and “Precalculus” for college-level classes.
  • Acknowledged a $227 donation from Hugo’s to the school music department.

The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, April 17 at the Frank White Education Center. Starting in May, school board meetings will be held in the “aquarium” off the high school library.

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