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Brainerd City Council: President says sorry on school statements

A revelation from Monday night's Brainerd City Council meeting has community members talking in the days that followed. Monday night, Council President Gary Scheeler revealed some changes Brainerd Public Schools was considering to three of its sc...

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Gary Scheeler, Brainerd City Council President, is a member of the school facility planning committee and said Monday, Brainerd High School is slated to receive a "major facelift." In addition, he said Harrison Elementary School and Lincoln Education Center will also "probably be torn down," with the district looking at building a new elementary school on the old state hospital site, near the intersection of highways 18 and 25.

A revelation from Monday night's Brainerd City Council meeting has community members talking in the days that followed.

Monday night, Council President Gary Scheeler revealed some changes Brainerd Public Schools was considering to three of its schools.

The district is currently near the tail end of a long-range comprehensive facility planning process, undertaken by a steering committee and a full committee, both of which involve representatives from the community and receive input from district staff and faculty members.

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"I definitely want to apologize that this is not a definite, that was not my intent. I have to apologize to the public and to the school district for maybe going a little too early." - Council President Gary Scheeler.

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Scheeler is a member of the committee and said Monday, Brainerd High School is slated to receive a "major facelift." In addition, he said Harrison Elementary School and Lincoln Education Center will also "probably be torn down," with the district looking at building a new elementary school on the old state hospital site, near the intersection of highways 18 and 25, Scheeler added.

Wednesday, Scheeler said the ideas he mentioned in the meeting on Monday were directions the committee was looking at, but nothing was set in stone yet. The committee isn't "bulldozing forward on this at all," he said.

Scheeler said he "might have just overreacted" when he was updating the council on the process Monday.

"I definitely want to apologize that this is not a definite, that was not my intent," Scheeler said. "I have to apologize to the public and to the school district for maybe going a little too early."

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Read the article - Brainerd City Council: Changes coming to Brainerd schools

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Wednesday, the school district released a statement in response to Scheeler's comments on Monday.

"We appreciate that this was the perspective of one of many community members participating in this important work, however these were simply just a few of the many ideas and thoughts that are being reviewed, and are far from being ready to present to our board and community for consideration," the statement read.

Wednesday, Lisa Beumer, communications director for the school district, said the district has not made any decisions in the planning process, which is still in the discussion stage. She prompted concerned citizens to email communications@isd181.org with their questions and comments on the planning process.

During a community forum hosted by the school district last week on April 13, committee members noted the group has started moving into specifics and has started looking at possible solutions or recommendations to present to the Brainerd School Board.

"In fact, at this forum, a community member praised the group for their level of transparency with the information and the process and was thankful for the authentic opportunity to provide input," the statement read.

The initial goal was to bring a long-range comprehensive facilities plan to the school board for adoption in a May meeting, but that timeline may have to be extended, as there will be more feedback coming between now and the scheduled May 9 board meeting.

"Before any details and possibilities are shared with our community, we need to be confident in our vetting of all of the issues and be thoroughly prepared to present possible concepts and respond to additional feedback from our community," the statement read.

 

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SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 218-855-5859 or spenser.bickett@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spenserbickett .

Gary Scheeler
Gary Scheeler

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