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Whittier back on table

The Brainerd School District is moving forward to determine what the best use of the former Whittier Elementary School building will be.

The district formed a Whittier Task Force and its first meeting will be 7 a.m. Jan. 18 at the school.

Steve Lund, director of business services, briefly discussed the task force Monday at the Brainerd School Board meeting. Lund said the task force consists of about a dozen community stakeholders who will meet to determine the future of Whittier. Brainerd City Council member Kelly Bevans and Brainerd City Planner Mark Ostgarden will represent the city on the task force.

Lund said at the first meeting the task force will tour the building and learn about the history of the school and its infrastructure. Lund said the task force will determine a time frame to come up with a recommendation that it will present to the school board to vote upon.

Whittier school was one of two elementary schools closed in the 2008-09 school year because of the budget constraints. Since the school closed, it has serve as a temporary training site for Essentia Health St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

In other school business: the board heard from Bill Cruz, an educational assistant in the Early Childhood Special Education program at Nisswa Elementary School, during a time allotted for the public to speak on issues that are not on the agenda. Cruz spoke about how the school board did not approve a leave of absence for him to finish two early childhood college courses at Central Lakes College.

Cruz said the school board approved the educational assistant’s agreement that was benefitting to both the employer and employee. However, he did not understand why the board did not approve the leave of absence.

Cruz said: “This situation I feel is more to do with me personally and the retaliation of me being an outspoken advocate of our students’ safety and education ... I should not lose my job because of this.

“The cultural differences between me and the building administrator show her intolerance and inability to interact with me as an employee and parent.”

The school board made no comment after Cruz spoke.

Revised the retirement date for Nancy Pikula to be June 10, 2011.

Received several donations including: $5,000 from the Vi and Dean T. Hanson Trust to use with the Four A’s Literacy Program given to the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation; $7,000 from Brainerd Warrior Football Association to help with coaching fees; about $5,500 from the Brainerd Sportsboosters for a pitching machine, boys baseball jackets, cross country ski uniforms and girls basketball warm-ups; and $1,000 from Maxbotix, Inc., for the Warrior Robotics program.

Heard the second reading of the field trip policy.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851.