After much anticipation, the ISD 318 School Board determined the names of the new elementary schools in Grand Rapids at a regular meeting Tuesday, Feb. 10. Additionally, board members heard final recommendations regarding changes to programming at Grand Rapids and Cohasset elementary schools.

New elementary school names

From 2,059 responses to the Elementary Schools Naming Survey, the top three results were presented to the school board for a final decision. The results were as follows:

• West Rapids Elementary and East Rapids Elementary, 675 votes, 32.78%.

• Pine View Elementary and Prairie View Elementary, 441 votes, 21.42%.

• Westview Elementary and Eastview Elementary, 382 votes, 18.55%.

“We are thankful for everyone who took the time to participate in the voting,” said Board Chair Pat Medure. “The response was incredible.”

The school board unanimously voted to name the new elementary schools East Rapids and West Rapids. The main reason cited for this choice was the need to respect the results of the community survey.

“If you take the time to do a community survey and you don’t honor it, something is wrong,” Board Director Sue Zeige remarked.

Elementary programming recommendations

Superintendent Sean Martinson presented recommendations to the school board regarding changes to elementary programming for East Grand Rapids, West Grand Rapids and Cohasset Elementary Schools. Martinson gave a recap of how the Program Design Committee compiled their information, gathered feedback from the community and ultimately made their recommendations.

“The 35 members of the Program Design Committee spent a year examining elementary programing to ensure that the district is meeting federal and state requirements while providing varied and engaging opportunities for kids,” according to a press release from the school district. “The committee reviewed standards for art, media, music, phy-ed, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), and world languages.”

Martinson reminded the board those who joined the committee were there only to make recommendations, and that they should not be blamed for any cuts that may happen.

“The group that agreed to work on programming, agreed to work on programming, not budgeting implications,” Martinson stated.

Recommendations for elementary programming for K-5 grades moving forward is to have music four days each week for 25 minutes per day and physical education four days a week for 25 minutes per day. Students would have art one day a week for a 50 minute class period. It was recommended that the media center space remain staffed for student and classroom usage, but not be included as a separate class period.

“I would love to add all of these opportunities for our children and I know we all want what is best for our kids, but we are limited by time and budget constraints,” said Martinson.

Martinson added these recommendations will be reviewed after a two-year period.

“We have to make art standards and we are not doing that. And we have to have the same opportunities at each of your schools,” Board Director Malissa Bahr stated.

“It was a great process I think,” said Board Director Molly Miskovich. “It’s not permanent and we can reevaluate in a few years.”

No staffing changes have taken place at this point. Approval of staffing changes will take place at a March school board meeting. For more information or to ask questions about the Naming or Program Design Committees, contact the Superintendent’s Office at 218-327-5704 or email facilityplan@isd318.org.

Superintendent contract

School board members approved the negotiated settlement between ISD 318 and the incoming superintendent, Matt Grose, for the period of July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023. Grose attended the meeting and introduced himself to attendees.

“I think that high quality education is something that our communities want, our parents want and our kids deserve,” said Grose.

Peltier’s last meeting

The Feb. 10 school board meeting was Board Director Tom Peltier’s last meeting as he moves south to Arizona. School board members presented Peltier with a plaque honoring his 17 years of service on the board, to the school district and to the community.

“We will miss your historical perspective and most of all, your passion for our kids,” Miskovich said.

Student Board Representatives

Student Council representatives from Robert J. Elkington Middle School provided updates on what has been going on in their school to the board. This included an invitation to Culver’s Share Night Tuesday, Feb. 18 from 5-8 p.m. This is a fundraiser put on by the student council seventh and eighth graders to support community-building, school wide events. Culver’s will donate 10% of profits to the middle school next Tuesday evening.

Language Immersion field trip

“They would be studying Spanish five days out of the seven days of the trip,” explained Grand Rapids High School Spanish teacher Rachel Newman. “They would be visiting national parks. They would be visiting ecosystems that are unique to Central America.”

Newman brought a request for board approval of a Language Immersion field trip to Costa Rica on June 11-18, 2022 for students in her Spanish language class. According to the request, Newman has chaperoned two 21-day trips with middle and high school students before. The trip will be through the company Explorica by WorldStrides. Students from Grand Rapids that Newman has taught would be eligible for the trip, as well as Bigfork students in Spanish classes.

The board asked Newman about funding for the trip, as well as the need for chaperones. The ratio of chaperones to students will be 5 to 1, according to Explorica’s policies. Chaperones would need to assume certain responsibilities to support students on the trip and would receive help paying for the trip through fundraisers. Adults who would like to come along simply as travelers would not have the same responsibilities, but would need to pay for the trip themselves. Newman stated there would likely need to be fundraising efforts by students to fund the trip, but that she has helped with other fundraisers for previous trips she has been on with students. The school board approved the trip.

Other Business

In other business, the school board took action on the following agenda items:

• Approved January 2020 claims in the amount of $13,865,851.56.

• Approved the consent agenda which included the following staffing changes: Chad Anderson, Boys Assistant Track Coach resignation; William Chopp, Bus Driver resignation; Melvin Holmquist, Bus Driver resignation; Rebekah Morris, Head Volleyball Coach replacement hire; Gerald Runston, Bus Driver resignation; Amber Serfling, teacher resignation; Mark Shafer, Heavy Duty Mechanic replacement hire.

• Approved a resolution directing administration to make recommendations for reductions in programs and positions.

• Approved permission to post additional custodial positions for 2020/21.

The request for additional custodial staff is based on square footage and additional cleaning time needed in the new elementary buildings. The school district will post two new 10-month custodial positions and will move one existing 10-month custodial engineer to a 12-month position. Impact on the school district’s general fund will be $108,641.44.

• Approved 2019-20 and 2020-21 Educational Support Professionals unit contract.

•Authorized administration to publish bids for Robert J. Elkington Middle School upgrade projects. Projects include upgrades to the pool equipment room, the pool’s filtration system, and new sound attenuation in the band room to bring noise levels to a safe level for students.

• Approved the Minnesota State High School League Form B grant application for Bigfork High School.

• Approved school board representatives for 2020 graduation ceremonies. Molly Miskovich and Dr. Malissa Bahr will attend the Grand Rapids graduation, with David Marty as alternate. Pat Medure and Sue Zeige will attend Bigfork’s graduation, with David Marty as alternate.

• Approved 2021 graduation dates. Grand Rapids High School will be Friday, May 28 at 7 p.m. at the IRC Civic Center and Bigfork High School will be Saturday, May 29 at 2 p.m. at the Bigfork Gymnasium.

• Approved the 2020-21 school calendar.

• Approved the ISD 318 Independent Provider application for Dreams Come True Dance.

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