Weather Forecast


Brainerd School Board holds first reading for flex zone policy

In anticipation of school district implementing “flex zones,” the Brainerd School Board held the first reading of a policy that better lays out who can change school boundaries and how.

The board on Monday unanimously approved the move.

Late last year the board agreed to look more into flex zones. The plan has been in the works for more than a year by school officials in an effort to level out the class sizes among each of the 100 kindergarten through fourth-grade classrooms in the district.

The average class size is around 24, but if you walk into any one of those 100 classrooms, you can see anywhere from 21 to 29 students, said Steve Lund, director of business services for the district.

Officials want to give parents who meet eligibility requirements the option to move their child to a school with smaller class sizes.

Lund and other school officials mapped out nine flex zones for the district. In those zones, 142 students have been identified for this year that would have been eligible to switch schools. That number can change from year to year.

Each year starting in June or July, district officials study enrolment trends to identify what classes will be large. Then, officials could compile a list of students who are eligible to switch schools. Officials will ask families if they want to switch, focusing on the kindergarten classes first, as well as new students to the district. It will be a random system in selecting which families to offer it to first.

The policy better spells out the process in who lays out the boundary lines, and ultimately gives the school board final approval for district-wide boundary changes and administrative boundary adjustments.

When there is excess capacity in a school, the superintendent may grant an elementary teacher’s request on a case-by-case basis for an exception to the attendance boundaries to allow their child to enroll in the elementary school in which they teach. Boundary exceptions will not require school board approval.

Board member Chris Robinson said he wants to periodically review the policy in the first few years to make sure it is effective.

Everyone agreed and all approved the move.

In other school board news:

Approved a tentative contract with newly approved superintendent Klint Willert, current Marshall Public Schools superintendent. The three-year contract will include a salary of $160,000 in the first year, $163,000 in the second year and $166,000 in the third year. Board Chair Ruth Nelson said with the approval, Willert will turn in his resignation with his current school district and start in Brainerd on July 1.

Approved a resolution of support for the Safe Routes to Schools Project at Garfield Elementary, concurring with the necessary infrastructure improvements as proposed in the plans, and approving the construction of the improvements. The resolution is a formality for the $300,000 state-funded project that will start in June.

Approved the committee recommended modifications to the 2014-15 school calendar. Those changes are: making June 4 and 5, 2015, possible snow day makeups if needed; teacher in-service time will shift from Aug. 27-29 to Aug. 26-28; Grades 1-2 observation survey testing will shift from August to September; KinderCamp teachers will use eight hours of in-service float time prior to camp for planning purposes.

Accepted the following staff resignations due to retirement: Debra Lechner, Director of Teaching and Learning; Sandy Agre, ECSE; Sally Erickson, Forestview Middle School (FMS) Language Arts; Peter Holleque, Paul Bunyan Education Co-op audiologist; Carol Lang, FMS English; Beth Medin, Brainerd High School (BHS) visual arts; Jennifer Owens, Garfield kindergarten; Nancy Thielen, Riverside music; Sally Ward, Riverside speech language pathologist; Marnie Whalen, FMS math.

Accepted the following non-teaching staff resignations: Linda Dockter, BHS Career Center director and Student Council advisor; Laurie Folsom, BHS secretary; Amanda Gakin, Garfield education assistant; Marge Green, FMS nurse.

Accepted the following staff hires: Tim Edinger, part-time A-Comp coordinator; Maria Lendobeja, speech language pathologist.

Accepted about $19,436 in gifts and donations.

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at