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District 181 Viewpoint: Continuing to listen to the voices of our community

Thank you to everyone who recently shared their thoughts about Brainerd Public School District's long-range facilities planning through two recent surveys!

Public input is a critical step to developing the best plan to meet student, teacher, and community needs while providing high value to local taxpayers.

The school district recently invested in a scientific telephone survey to guarantee that we had representation from as broad a group of community members as possible. While 400 district residents may seem like only a handful, this sample reflected the demographics of our community based on current census information.

I am pleased to report that nearly 80 percent of respondents of the telephone survey agreed that the school board should develop a long-range plan to maintain and make improvements in our 12 school buildings. It is wonderful to know there is a wide base of support for making Brainerd Public Schools even stronger.

Residents also believe that our community receives a good value from its investments in its public schools, with 86 percent agreeing or strongly agreeing with that statement. In addition, residents believe our education team is doing a great job: 89 percent of respondents rated Brainerd Public School teachers and other instructional staff as good or excellent, and 68 percent of respondents gave the school administration a good or excellent rating. From Fort Ripley to Nisswa, from Garrison to Baxter, the Brainerd Public Schools community has always been supportive of our schools; we do not take that support for granted and are sincerely appreciative of it!

Following the phone survey, we invited all district residents to take a shorter online survey — and more than 1,300 stakeholders did just that. Teachers, parents of school-age students, business owners, and other community members provided valuable hints on what the school board should consider in the facilities plan. It is essential to know what the community thinks and believes.

Over the next month or so, the ISD 181 Board of Education will use the community's input from the surveys along with comments from dozens of internal and community listening sessions, expert analysis of the buildings, and other information to develop a final plan with which to proceed. I invite you to engage with this process.

Ultimately, the community will decide the future of our schools. It is truly inspiring to see such strong support. We are incredibly grateful that the community has participated in this process and responded this way so far.

To share your thoughts, find out more about the process, review information gathered by the Board of Education, and see more survey results, please visit www.blueprint181.org. We look forward to hearing from you. Go Warriors!

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