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School board adopts boundary change policy

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

The board on Monday unanimously approved the move, officially making it policy.

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.

The newly-adopted policy better spells out the process of 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.

The board will periodically review the policy in the first few years to make sure it is effective.

In other school board news:

Approved a 6 percent increase in health insurance premiums for the 2015 fiscal year. The increase is based on the projection of the annual claims and costs increasing by 6 percent for 2014-15.

There are currently about 851 employees and retirees with coverage and the plan covers about 2,300 people (employees and their dependents).

Approved a lease purchase agreement with Brainerd HRA for the Brainerd Learning Center property. The move will save about $42,000 a year, officials say.

“We have always worked toward the day where we would take that property,” said Superintendent Steve Razidlo.

Approved an amended lease purchase agreement in regard to the awarded bid for the lower site construction project. The move will add $142,900 to the lease, which was previously agreed on. Voting against the move was school board member Chris Robinson.

Accepted the blended Pearson model for developing a new math curriculum program for grades 9-12.

The new blended curriculum means that instead of only using books it may come with iPad minis, carts and cases, totaling $81,090, which is not budgeted for yet. Possibly including the new technology will depend on finding the dollars in the budget.

Members of the school board expressed the importance of adding in technology but concern over finding the funds in the budget.

Officials will discuss the $81,090 budget item later, noting that the amount of technology purchased could change later as officials look to the budget.

Approved the school calendar for 2015-16, which makes spring break March 7-11 and the last day of school June 3.

Approved a slight change to the district’s weapon policy, adding that a designee, instead of just solely the superintendent, may use discretion in determining whether, under the circumstance a student may have or distribute a weapon, a course of action other than the minimum consequences is warranted. The change was necessary because not every violation comes across the superintendent’s desk, officials said.

Approved the 2014-15 membership for the Minnesota State High School League.

Approved a field trip request to Colorado, Nevada and Los Angeles for the high school band. The trip will run from March 6-14, 2015.

Approved a five-year agreement with MARCO as printer copier devices and maintenance contract holder.

Heard that Riverside School was one of 120 Minnesota schools to have been selected to participate in the 2014-15 School Breakfast Challenge. The district will receive $2,500 in unrestricted funds to invest in increasing school breakfast participation, in addition to a $0.25 incentive per meal served to free and reduced price eligible children over the number served the prior school year, up to 25,000 meals.

Heard that Brainerd will receive $3,000 from Seon’s Anti-bullying Grant.

Heard that Alison Medeck from Forestview Middle School was selected as the Middle School Counselor of the Year.

Heard that Forestview Middle School Assistant Principal Tammy Dewey received the Administrator of the Year Award.

Accepted the following staff resignations: Alissa Anderson, TCC Head Start; Kari Hanson, special education, BHS; Leah Touges, education assistant, District.

Accepted the following staff retirement: Christine Rasmussen, interpreter, BHS.

Accepted the following staff hires: Elizabeth Wright, speech language pathologist, district; Travis Raske, math, FMS; Stacy Podoll-Erdal, music, Riverside.

Accepted $11,849 in donations and gifts to the district.

JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at