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Brainerd School Board: BHS draws an international crowd

More than double the average number of foreign exchange students attended Brainerd High School during the 2012-13 school year.

Twenty-three exchange students attended the school this year, said Liz Aulie, foreign exchange student advisor.

Brainerd School Board members heard an update on the growing program Monday night at its monthly meeting.

Students are from: Belgium, Brazil, China, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and Vietnam.

Two students have already been accepted for next year from Denmark and Germany.

While the number of students involved has grown, Aulie said, the exchange program still needs student mentors, host families, respite and students from non-European countries, as many of the foreign exchange students are from European countries.

In other school board news:

The school district was approved to issue up to $1,241,353 in capital facility bonds for a few projects in its capital improvement projects that are part of the docket to be completed before the start of the 2013-14 school year. The projects are: building renovations at the Washington Educational Services Building, parking upgrades at both the Washington building and Riverside Elementary School, and re-roofing Brainerd High and Baxter Elementary schools.

School employees on the health plan will temporarily convert back to 10-10-60 structure for co-pays in the health insurance prescription medication plan, instead of the now 10-30-60 plan.

During the last bargaining session, it was understood that if a person wasn’t able to take generic drugs, they would get the preferred brand for the cost of a generic drug co-pay, said director of business services Steve Lund. But that’s not the case.

Lund said officials will use the time before the next session to brainstorm how to provide a better incentive structure for using generics.

The estimated cost to district for interim change is about $24,000 from now until Aug. 31.

Board member Sue Kern questioned whether the temporary change would be setting a precedence in the next bargaining session.

Board chair Tom Haglin agreed. He questioned what else might come up in the future is both sides again make a mistake.

Voting against the motion were Haglin and Bob Nystrom.

The board approved the review and comment for the Lowell Elementary School project, which is part of the district’s capital improvement plan. The Lowell Elementary School project will improve the indoor air quality to current standards. Next, the review and comment goes to the Minnesota Department of Education, which can last up to 60 days for review.

Reichert Enterprises will provide bussing transportation services for 2013-15 school year after the board approved the services agreement. The current contract with Reichert expires June 30. The estimated cost is about $3.7 million per year.

Garfield Elementary was named a Celebration School by the Minnesota Department of Education. The honor reflects the school’s progress in improving outcomes for students.

The board accepted the following donations: $200 from MMFCU for the BHS Robotics Program; $266 from an anonymous donor for the Riverside Elementary field trip to St. John’s University; $500 from MNFCU for the Lowell Elementary anti-bullying program; $1,642.40 from Box Tops for Education for Harrison Elementary School student activities; $735.97 from Life Touch for Harrison Elementary School student activities; $1,099 from Lowell PTA for MacBook Pro for the media center; $2,875 from sports boosters for girl’s basketball shirts, a scoreboard at Riverside and the BHS student leaderships program “Winning Edge.”; $500 from Riverside PTO for an art event with author Debra Frasier; $15,117 from the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation for the 4As Grants awarded in January; and $50 from an anonymous donor for the Forestview Band; $2,148 from Life Touch for Forestview student activities.

A Brainerd High School yearbook contract with Josten’s was approved by the school board for 800 books at the cost of $39.19 each.

A Forestview yearbook contract with Balfour was approved by the school board for 700 books at the cost of $20 each.

A second reading was heard for the School District System Accountability policy. The policy, which was adopted at the meeting, establishes a system to review and improve instruction, curriculum and assessment in the implementation of the Minnesota Academic Standards and No Child Left Behind Act.

Baxter fourth-graders will head for Deep Portage April 25 and 26 for a science trip. The school board approved the $65-per student trip, which will be funded by a Baxter Lions fundraiser and parents.

A snow day make-up will be on April 1 for the school day missed in January after the ice storm.

The board accepted 30 letters of retirement and one resignation for the district. That’s nearly 800 years of combined experience leaving the Brainerd School District at the end of the year. Of those leaving, 27 are certified teacher/specialists, two are administrators, and two are non-certified staff.

“It’s an incredible amount of service to our district,” Haglin said.

Superintendant Steve Razidlo agreed.

“We recognize the shoes we have to fill,” he said.

The district will start posting for the following positions as soon as possible: director of schools, three speech/language pathologists, a school psychologist, and a high school orchestral director.

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