The Independent School District (ISD) 318 has taken another step in the process of opening two new elementary schools for the 2020-21 school year with the hiring of 12-month principals at each site.

The board approved the hiring of three new 12-month principals at the regular meeting Monday, Dec. 3. Ryan DeBay was hired as the 12-month principal for the East Elementary school in Grand Rapids. Sean Martinson was hired for the West Elementary school in Grand Rapids. Lastly, Jill Wheelock will be the 12-month principal at the Cohasset Elementary school.

“Another milestone in relation to the opening of the new elementaries,” Pat Medure, school board chair, commented.

Student Board Representatives

Student Council members, Baijla Graeber and McKenzie Briggs, from Robert J. Elkington Middle School (RJEMS) gave a summary of events led by the student council so far this school year. These included a Halloween Dance and Yankee Candle fundraiser that both raised $900 each for the student council. Additionally, the student council put together 36 care packages for those actively serving in the military as a part of the Veteran’s Day activities.

Currently, the fourth annual Festival of Trees is being planned at the middle school by the RJEMS Youth Council. The event shows off decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and stockings on Thursday, Dec. 12 from 5-7 p.m. in the school commons. A silent auction, musical performances, treats and refreshments will be available at the event. Proceeds from the silent auction are given back to an RJEMS classroom or department of the donor’s choice.

To donate a tree, stocking, gift basket or wreath, contact Brooke Moses at 327-5800 ext. 41285. Each decorated item includes a sign with the name of the donating person or group and the tree’s title. Deadline for decorated trees and other items is Dec. 12 at 3:30 p.m. and should be brought to the RJEMS work room.

Activities Indicator Report

Anne Campbell, activities director of Grand Rapids High School (GRHS), presented the Activities Indicator Report to the school board. Between GRHS, RJEMS and Bigfork Public School, more than 2,000 students are impacted by activities. Campbell reported more than 650 students involved in activities had a GPA of at least 3.229.

“We provide very competitive teams, very competitive schedules,” Campbell noted. “I also believe our culture is very nurturing where commitment to excellence in academics, athletics and fine arts is a top priority.”

Challenges included the difficulties in hiring officials for sporting events. Campbell reported between GRHS and RJEMS, more than 700 officials are hired each year. Bigfork Public School hires more than 100 officials. In addition to struggling to find officials specifically for lower level games, the cost of officials increases every two years, adding another challenge for the district.

Campbell also noted that participation in high school sports has declined in the United States for the first time in 30 years for the school year 2018-19. However, numbers increased in Minnesota. Nationwide, 8 million students are still participating in high school activities, according to the report.

“Our students are amazing. They excel in the classroom, on the field, court, ice, mats, pool, etc. while being involved in many of our fine arts programs,” Campbell said.

School Board Director David Marty commented on the holistic approach Campbell takes with her job position as Activities Director.

“You are an athletic director but you also take very seriously the fine arts component of this job as well, and our students are very well served by that,” Marty said.

Facilities design and construction update

Sean Lewis with ICS Consulting gave an update of the building of the new Grand Rapids elementary schools and renovation of the Cohasset elementary school. Overall, all projects are on schedule and on budget.

“The projects are going really well,” Lewis said.

Structural steel and block work is 99% complete at both the East and West sites. Roofing, metal exterior and interior framing is also underway at each of these sites. The Cohasset Elementary school has 99% of the structural steel work complete. The concrete slab has been placed for the new gymnasium. Additionally, metal exterior, interior framing and roofing is also being worked on.

World’s Best Workforce Report

Additionally, the ISD 318 School Board held a special meeting Monday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. to approve the World’s Best Workforce Report. The following is a statement from the school district:

The World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) Report is a requirement set by the Minnesota legislature to ensure that districts have a comprehensive strategic plan to support teaching and learning while meeting the needs of students at all levels.

“We appreciate that the Minnesota legislature and Department of Education (MDE) are focused on the needs of students from pre-K through graduation,” said Rochelle Van Den Heuvel, Assistant Superintendent and WBWF Committee Chair. They are focused on the development of a child from being ready to attend school to being college or career ready.”

The WBWF report examines growth and development at all years in five areas. A district must have a plan to have all students meet school readiness goals, to have all third-grade students achieve grade-level literacy, to close the academic achievement gap among all groups, to have all students graduate from high school, and to have all students attain college and career preparedness.

“Some of the district highlights in this year’s WBWF report are a continuing trend of reading scores increasing and our graduation rates for all populations are higher than the state,” said Van Den Heuvel. “We will continue to work to close the achievement gap among our Free and Reduced lunch and American Indian populations. To do this, the district is focusing on early identification and interventions, each intervention is targeted to the needs of the individual student.”

Other business

Superintendent Sean Martinson presented school board director David Marty with a Leadership Development certificate from the Minnesota School Board Association, “for successfully completing all 4 phases of the MSBA leadership workshop series, which again, shows a commitment through action,” Martinson said.

The school board approved the following replacement hires: Dale Anderson, JV Boys Hockey Coach; David Brenden, seventh and eighth grade Wrestling Coach; and Donna Kirt, Nurse ESP

Ben Hawkins was approved as Interim Business Manager replacement hire.

The board approved permission to post Director of Teaching and Learning Position. This position is for the 2020-21 fiscal year starting July 1, 2020 and will replace the absence of the Assistant Superintendent. The position will provide a $35,000 decrease to the school district’s budget.

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