School board renews mental health services contracts

Northern Pines Mental Health Center also provides support for district families, parent education and professional learning at no additional cost.

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

The Brainerd School Board renewed four contracts with Northern Pines Mental Health Center to provide social work and mental health services throughout the district.

Jen Johnson, director of special education at the Paul Bunyan Education Cooperative, presented the following contracts to the board during a meeting Wednesday, May 27:

  • Mental health services to students during the school day. Cost: $210 per diagnostic assessment session; $95 for 30-minute individual psychotherapy session; $150 for 45-minute individual psychotherapy session; $180 for 60-minute individual psychotherapy session; $130 for family psychotherapy session without patient; $140 for family psychotherapy session with patient; and $60 for group psychotherapy session.

  • Social worker position at Forestview Middle School, which includes 20 hours each mental health and social work services per week. Social work duties include assessments and other duties outlined by the district. Cost: $25,000.

  • Mental health services three days a week at Brainerd Learning Center. Cost: $44,500.

  • Three hours of lunchroom services a day at Brainerd High School. Cost: $10,000.

Northern Pines also provides support for district families, parent education and professional learning at no additional cost.
โ€œThey serve as support liaisons during identified mental health crises that principals identify,โ€ Johnson said.

The social work position at Forestview began last year. Superintendent Laine Larson said she heard from Forestview counselor Trudi Storbakken, who said that service has been wonderful for the school.

The lunchroom services at BHS, Johnson, said have garnered positive feedback as well.


โ€œItโ€™s a really great connection, and the providers actually requested it because they can make those connections with the kids in that unstructured setting and check on kids as well,โ€ she said.

Changes to the contracts for the 2020-21 school year include the addition of telehealth services, meaning students can receive mental health services via video chat or phone call in the case of distance learning for snow days.

The cost of services remains the same as previous years.

In other business Wednesday, the board:

Approved new hires: Emily Bekkerus, English language learning teacher at Washington Educational Services Building; Beth Cooper, A-Comp coordinator and secondary curriculum and staff development specialist at Washington, transfer from Riverside Elementary; Mary Egna, building secretary at Baxter Elementary, internal transfer; Chanel Gangestad, fourth grade teacher at Lowell Elementary, transfer from Nisswa Elementary; Cory Litke, math teacher at Forestview Middle School, transfer from Garfield Elementary; Andrea Parrington, kindergarten teacher at Nisswa Elementary, transfer from Baxter Elementary; Brenna Robinson, special education teacher at Baxter Elementary; and Cara White, special education teacher at Forestview.

Approved resignations: Jonathan Clark, principal at Riverside Elementary and Mick Langer, food service at Forestview.

Authorized the purchase of furniture, fixtures and equipment for the BHS remodel project. Equipment for classrooms is not to exceed $52,944.29. The cost for agricultural department equipment is $42,600, and the cost for music department equipment is $45,395.98.

Approved a change order for the Harrison Elementary School project at a cost not to exceed $100,838.83 for concrete leveling and existing floor infill due to height discrepancies between existing wood floors and new terrazzo flooring.


Approved a change order for a snow melt system at the new performing arts center at a cost of $45,850.

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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