Weather Forecast


New name for ISD 181 Learning Center

A new name will be given to the ISD 181 Learning Center, but it won’t be too much of a change.

The building will now be called Brainerd Learning Center.

The Brainerd School Board unanimously approved the change at its meeting Monday.

The tweak in the name comes parallel with the rest of the district’s new branding, which was presented last fall.

Brainerd Learning Center (BLC) principal Jessica Haapajoki said since the rest of the schools in the district were moving away from the “ISD 181” wording, BLC should follow suit.

“The timing was right,” she said.

Haapajoki added, “There are so many programs in the building, we wanted to encompass all of them.”

BLC is home to five programs: the alternative high school, the middle level alternative program, early childhood family education, early childhood special education and the adult basic education and GED program.

Staff from the BLC made about 10 suggestions for a new name, but Brainerd Learning Center was chosen because it presented the least amount of change.

The only change will be removing the ISD 181 from the building sign, Haapajoki said.

School board chair Ruth Nelson said the new name is “simple and straight-forward.”

In other school board news:

Approved the final review and comment period of the lower site redesign project. The board voted 4-2 to approve going forward with the lower site redesign project. Voting against the motion were school board members Chris Robinson and Sue Kern.

With the positive review and comment by the Minnesota Board of Education, it is required that the board approves the project in order to proceed.

One item that was listed as ineligible was landscaping and irrigation work around the football field and tennis courts. Cost for that work totals around $20,000-$25,000.

Approved April 21 to be the makeup day for classes, as school was cancelled at the beginning of the month due to extreme cold temperatures. As for the second day that was cancelled, officials will hold off on the decision to make it up or not.

Approved a request for a temporary Community Education director. Officials will re-post for the position in March, as the first round of searching did not produce a new chosen director. School officials will ask recently retired Community Education Director Judy Jenson to help out in some projects until a replacement for her is found.

Approved supporting a Safe Routes to School application to extend two walkways to Forestview Middle School. The grant process requires local entities to provide 20 percent of the cost of the project. The project, if awarded the grant, would be a partnership with the city of Baxter and the school district, with the cost to the district totaling $7,200. The total cost of the project would be $124,000, and if the grant is awarded, 80 percent would be covered by federal grant funds.

Approved the first revision of the 2013-14 budget. The preliminary budget was passed by the board at its June meeting. Now, as the school year progresses and more budget pieces become solid, staff is able to see a clearer picture of the district’s finances. That clearer image shows a deficit spending level of $1,153,399. That’s a jump from the preliminary number in June of $779,510. That’s mostly because of an increase of expenses, more specifically staff contracts.

Heard that 11 law firms applied to be the legal representation for the school district. Five were interviewed last week, but no decision has been made yet.

Heard that Riverside Elementary was named a 2013 Celebration School by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Approved a field trip request for Spanish classes to Peru. The trip will run from March 7-13, 2015 and will cost each student about $3,365.

Approved a yearbook contract for Brainerd High School. Josten’s will be the supplier, with an order amount of 900 books at the price of $42.38 each. The south campus and main building will combined and print one yearbook instead of two for the 2014-15 school year.

Approved a yearbook contract for Forestview Middle School with Balfour, with an order amount of 700 books at the price of $20.85 each.

Accepted the resignations of Marie Bedard, ECFE parent educator at the Learning Center; and Sarah Burris, special education teacher at Garfield.

Accepted the termination of education assistant Bea Bartosh.

Accepted the hiring of Wendy Johnson, food service at Forestview Middle School; and Dennis Vroman, custodian at Harrison and Garfield elementary schools.

Accepted more than $25,000 in gifts and grants for various district groups and efforts.

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