Brainerd Public Schools: Free and reduced applications due Dec. 1

Washington Educational Services Building
The Washington Educational Services Building. Brainerd Dispatch file photo

Brainerd Public Schools officials are urging families who qualify for free and reduced lunch to fill out and submit their applications before Dec. 1.

Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing free meals to school-aged children this year, families still need to complete free and reduced applications, as they are tied to district funding.

“This is critical,” Superintendent Laine Larson said during a board meeting Thursday, Nov. 12.

The district usually has about 40% of students who qualify for and participate in the free and reduced program based on household income. So far this year, the district is at about 30%, which equates to $1.8 million less in compensatory state funds than in a typical year.

Aside from the direct funding, the district’s free and reduced percentage is tied to grants, too. Many grants the district would normally apply for, Larson said, exclude districts with free and reduced populations under 40%. And in the case of collaborative grants, Larson said other area schools will not want to partner with Brainerd if its percentage is too low.


“This is just essential right now that we really put this push on,” she said.

Families have until Dec. 1 to fill out the free and reduced form, which is available online at .

In other business Thursday, the board:

Approved new hires to the district: Jessie Shepherd, sophomore class cabinet adviser at Brainerd High School; Max Boran, assistant wrestling coach at Forestview Middle School; Michael Boran, head ninth grade football coach; Melissa Giles, special education paraprofessional substitute at Lincoln Education Center; Clint Headley, head junior high wrestling coach at Forestview; Tana Johnson, head ninth grade volleyball coach; Eve Langhorst districtwide special education paraprofessional substitute; Veronica Lesnau, special education paraprofessional substitute at Lincoln Education center; Emily Monda, assistant girls soccer coach at BHS; Michael Morford, assistant boys soccer coach at BHS; Megan Ostendorf, assistant gymnastics coach coach at BHS; Katrina Marie Ostergren, behavior management specialist at Forestview; Jennifer Rushin, community education generalist at Forestview; Brittany Sanders, behavior management specialist at BHS; Haily Tihlarik, assistant volleyball coach at BHS.

Accepted donations to the district: $1,848.87 from Baxter Parent Teacher Organization for second and third grade student activities at Baxter Elementary School; backpacks full of school supplies from Community of Hope Church for student needs at Harrison Elementary School; $95.60 from Church of Nazarene for student needs at Harrison Elementary School.

Approved the first reading of a revised transportation policy, adding in communication methods between families and principals after student misconduct issues on buses.

Nominated board member Charles Black Lance to run for an open seat on the Sourcewell Board of Directors representing sub-region III, which covers Brainerd, Little Falls, Pierz, Royalton, Swanville and Upsala.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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