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School Board: final draft of facilities plan approved

The Brainerd School Board Monday night approved the final version of the district's comprehensive long-range facilities plan. Board members were careful to point out the plan serves as a guiding document and the district won't be taking immediate...

Karla Sand, new communications manager for Brainerd Public Schools, introduces herself to the Brainerd School Board Monday night. Spenser Bickett/Brainerd Dispatch
Karla Sand, new communications manager for Brainerd Public Schools, introduces herself to the Brainerd School Board Monday night. Spenser Bickett/Brainerd Dispatch

The Brainerd School Board Monday night approved the final version of the district's comprehensive long-range facilities plan.

Board members were careful to point out the plan serves as a guiding document and the district won't be taking immediate action on the recommendations included in the plan.

"It's the comprehensive plan, it's not the final plan," board member Bob Nystrom said. "This is not what we're bringing to the public for approval in a bond referendum."

A meeting of the school board's facilities committee on Oct. 28 featured a lengthy review of the draft plan document. Coming out of that meeting, the committee responsible for putting the plan together was tasked with bringing a final draft of the plan to the board for approval, Superintendent Laine Larson said. Adopting a final draft of the plan also shows consulting firm Cuningham Group the process to put the plan together is complete, she said.

"We owe it to the consultant to demonstrate that we've received now the final report," board member Chris Robinson said.

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The only thing finalized between the draft plan seen on Oct. 28 and the final draft are furniture and fixed technology costs as seen on page 44 of the plan, said Steve Lund, director of business services.

At a special meeting of the school board Nov. 29, the board will talk about how to proceed with the plan, Larson said. Members of the administration will be available to answer any questions board members may have about the plan, she said.

"We're going to be looking for some guidance on where to go from here," Larson said. "And we'll bring forth some recommendations as well at that meeting."

The recommendations in the plan include a combination of right-sizing, renewal, reinvestment, repurposing and replacement. Those recommendations are:

• Brainerd High School: renew and reinvest,

• Forestview Middle School: maintain,

• Baxter Elementary School: replace with a new school; repurpose for programs from Lincoln Education Center and Brainerd Learning Center,

• Garfield Elementary School: right-size and renew,

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• Harrison Elementary School: replace with a new school,

• Lowell Elementary School: right-size and renew,

• Nisswa Elementary School: right-size and renew,

• Riverside Elementary School: right-size and renew,

• Brainerd Learning Center: reinvest for early learning,

• Lincoln Education Center: vacate, relocating programs to current Baxter Elementary School,

• Washington Educational Services Building: renew.

Timeline

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The district started the long-range facilities planning process in July of 2015. The long-range plan came about because the district was being reactive, not active when it came to facilities, Lund previously stated.

Those past two years have included compiling and reviewing a lot of data on the district's facilities, demographics, enrollment trends and more. The process has included data evaluation, site visits to other schools, reviewing enrollment data, reviewing the conditions of the district's facilities and looking at the costs and financial capacity of the district.

The draft plan serves as a starting point for the next stage of the planning process. The district will take the draft plan to the community to find out what direction the community wants the district to take.

There's 12 facilities in the district, comprising 1.2 million square feet and 289 acres of land. The district's boundaries encompass 516 square miles. The oldest building in the district, Washington Educational Services Building, was built in 1929. The newest building, Forestview Middle School, was built in 2004. The average age of the district's buildings is 44 years old.

Community members got a chance to see the progress on the plan at two community forums in April and May.

Prior to the regular board meeting, the board had a brief special meeting to canvass the results of the 2016 school board election.

In other business, the board:

Approved the following policy changes due to Minnesota School Board Association and Minnesota Association of School Administrators updates: 401-equal employment opportunity, 402-disability nondiscrimination policy, 404-employment background checks, 405-veteran's preference, 406-public and private personnel data, 407-employee right to know-exposure to hazardous substances, 410-family and medical leave policy, 413-harassment and violence, 414-mandated reporting of child neglect, physical, or sexual abuse, 415-mandated reporting of maltreatment of vulnerable adults, 416-drug and alcohol testing, 417-chemical use and abuse, 418-drug-free workplace/drug-free school, 420-students and employees with sexually transmitted infections and diseases and certain other communicable disease and infectious conditions, 524-internet acceptable use and safety policy.

Retired the following policies: administrator appraisal, replaced with Minnesota School Board Association 304-superintendent contract, duties and evaluation; organization of the school board, replaced with MSBA 201-legal status of the school board, 202-school board officers, 203-operation of the school board and 203.5-school board meeting agenda.

Accepted donations for the month of November totaling $26,364. There were also multiple donations of non-cash items to Forestview Middle School for Forestview Way.

Approved the creation of a full-time Native American and student supports liaison position. It is the expansion of a part-time position to a full-time position, with the increased cost covered by state funding for closing achievement gaps, Larson said. According to the position description, it is designed "to provide supportive services to help American Indian students resolve such personal, emotional, and social problems as interfere with their adjustment to school and their capacity to enjoy the fullest benefits of the education offered them and to coordinate the Response to Intervention system of the school district."

Approved the district's 2016 fiscal year audit as recommended by the board's finance committee. The audit was performed by CliftonLarsonAllen.

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