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Board reorganizes and gets down to business

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The Brainerd School Board Tuesday elected Chris Robinson as its chair for the new year during its reorganization meeting.

When Robinson walked to his new seat at the school board table, Jim Hunt, the 2011 board chair, gladly handed Robinson a paperback copy of “Robert’s Rules of Order.” Hunt was given the book when he was chair as it has been a school board tradition.

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Board member Tom Haglin was elected board vice chair. Ruth Nelson was elected board clerk-treasurer.

The board also agreed to keep the school board member’s compensation the same at $350 per month. School board members do not receive any other stipends or per diems for their work.

The reorganization meeting was longer than usual, as the board also heard from Deb Lechner, director of teaching and learning, about whether the district should require every student to enroll in a college level learning class or career readiness class. Lechner said if the board agrees to the increased criteria, students currently in eighth grade would be the first class to have to fulfill the additional graduation requirement.

Lechner said students would be able to chose a rigorous course in any of the following programs: Advanced Placement, College in Schools, the Bridges Academy program, Advanced Standing Certificate, National Career Readiness Certificate or an post-secondary enrollment option course.

Brainerd Superintendent Steve Razidlo said this additional requirement would allow all students to learn at a higher rate. In the past, Razidlo said about 30 percent of the students or more have not earned a college credit or career readiness certificate while in high school. Razidlo said this change would allow a higher percentage of students to earn college credit while in high school.

“We want to push the totals even higher,” said Razidlo.

Board members did not vote on the additional requirement, as they wanted more information. The board’s Curriculum Committee will discuss the requirement at its next meeting.

Haglin said as a business owner he is concerned about how the courses will benefit the students in the real world. He said, “None of these (readiness) courses trick my trigger as a business man.”

Haglin added that there already are students in the advance courses who are struggling. He said there is a lot of work that needs to be done on how to make the curriculum successful.

Hunt was concerned about the cost of the requirement and how it would be monitored. Robinson agreed with Haglin’s and Hunt’s concerns and said board members needs to have a better understanding of the requirements before they can approve it and to make sure the students understand it.

Before adjournment, the board went into a closed meeting to discuss negotiations. No action was taken at the closed meeting.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851.

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