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PR Schools to issue $21.65M bond series

The funds are part of a construction and renovation project featuring demolition of the Frank White building, additions to the high school, improvements on the Century School grounds, a bus garage and a tennis court replacement.

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Park Rapids Area High School, front entrance
Park Rapids Enterprise file photo, October 2021
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The Park Rapids School Board on Dec. 19 approved a resolution declaring an intention to issue general obligation school building and refunding bonds totaling approximately $21.65 million.

To be designated as 2023A, this bond series will comprise the second part of the $51.65 million in bonds approved by voters in November 2021. Approximately $30 million in bonds were issued a year ago.

The bond resolution calls for a series of bonds with an aggregate principal amount of approximately $25,865,000. This includes a reissue of $4.1 million on a 2014 bond to reduce interest payments.

The new bonds are part of a construction and renovation project including demolition of the Frank White Education Center, additions to the high school, a parking lot and pickup and drop-off area at Century School, new Century playgrounds, a bus garage on school property and the already completed replacement of the Helten Avenue tennis courts.

In consent items and general business, the school board:

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  • Heard Transportation Director David Synstegaard reported that snow has been impacting some school bus stops, resulting in either buses becoming stuck or drivers asking parents to meet them when they feel leery of driving down a road. “Parents (have to) realize that these buses are not a car,” said Synstegaard. “They don’t turn the same. If the driver doesn’t feel comfortable and they fear they’re going to get stuck, I support them 100% and tell them to do what they think is right.”
  • Approved the resignations of Melody Bober as an elementary ADSIS paraprofessional, effective Jan. 3, 2023; Robert Henderson as a co-assistant speech coach; Stephen Funk as a junior varsity basketball coach; Josh Cook as a junior high softball coach; and Coda Johnson as an elementary para.
  • Hired Bober as a Title I teacher contingent upon licensure, effective Jan. 3; SkyBlue Detmers as an elementary para; Liza Adams as a 6.25-hour-per-day cook’s helper; and Matt Ruper as a Century School custodian.
  • Approved volunteer hockey coaches Josh Vinge, Jimmy Hillukka, Doug Wesa and Brad Pinoniemi.
  • Acknowledged a $500 donation from the Wolf Lake Wolf Pack basketball club to the Century School art program.
  • Heard Century School Assistant Principal Mark Frank report a 67% decrease so far this school year in students being sent to the school office for discipline. He attributed this to efforts by school staff to build relationships with kids and communicate expectations about their behavior. 
  • Heard PAWN Special Education Director Eva Pohl report some high-need students enrolled in the district this year. “Some moved in,” she said. “Some had been homeschooling. And some families have chosen Park Rapids. … I am thankful that we have options for placement for some students, when that is needed” – including the Up North Learning Center in Walker. 
  • Received an enrollment review showing that between Nov. 17 and Dec. 15, K-12 enrollment went down by five students (from 1,605 to 1,600), adding up to a total decrease of 41 students since Sept. 16 – 21 of them from the high school alone. School board chair Sherry Safratowich asked principals Jeff Johnson and Mike LeMier to report where students are going when they leave the district. “We need to do something,” she said, noting that enrollment figures correlate with state funding.
  • Heard High School Principal Jeff Johnson and Activity Director Jeremy Nordick report the spring athletic banquet may be moved from a Wednesday to a Friday. Johnson said the scholarship program would move with it, while Nordick said this will better accommodate Hall of Fame candidates and their families. He also suggested giving Hall of Fame inductees a lifetime game pass, and the school board voiced consent.
  • Terminated the employment of an unidentified, probationary employee.
  • Approved an annual resolution establishing polling places for multiple precincts in case of a districtwide election in 2023.
  • Approved the first reading of a mechanic’s helper job description.
  • Approved the second reading of a policy about unpaid meal charges.
  • Approved payments presented for December, totaling $1,534,023.
  • Set a special board meeting for 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 22 to approve construction documents for high school additions and improvements and put the project out to bid.

The school board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, 2023 at the Frank White Education Center.

MORE RELATED COVERAGE:
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 rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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