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March 16, 2018
Minnesota Department of Education approves Plan for ISD 318 Elementaries and Activities

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has approved the ISD 318 Elementary Facility Plan. Based upon the department’s analysis of the school district’s plan, Commissioner of Education, Dr. Brenda Cassellius, has provided a positive review and comment. The means that the MDE agrees with the educational and economic viability of the plan.

The approval of educational and economic viability is the last step in the process before voters make the final decision on the future of our schools.

After taking the recommendations of the Elementary and Activity Taskforces, the School Board presented a plan to build two new neighborhood K-5 schools in Grand Rapids, to renovate and expand Cohasset Elementary, and to make additions and improvements to activity spaces in Bigfork and Grand Rapids High Schools.

The School Board, teachers, and members of the taskforces have worked hard to reduce costs to taxpayers. Costs were reduced with land exchanges with the Cities of Grand Rapids and Cohasset and with a grant of $4.7 million from the IRRRB.

Residents of Cohasset will see additional benefits thanks to a partnership with the City of Cohasset to add city-sponsored early childhood classrooms, shared community education spaces, and wellness center space.

Our severe elementary school space shortage is a serious challenge that is impacting how well kids learn in our schools. Not only do our elementary schools not have enough classroom, support, gym, and cafeteria space – they don’t have the right space for how kids learn today. This has implications not only for their academic achievement, but the future of our community and our ability to attract new residents, a strong workforce, and future employers.

We have health and safety needs at our district athletic and activities facilities. Locker and weight rooms at Bigfork are inadequate and while we’ve added four sports at Grand Rapids High School, we haven’t added practice or game space, forcing kids to practice in parking lots, hallways, and streets.
Residents are invited to share their input at a public meeting discussing the Review and Comment on Monday, March 19 during the regularly scheduled Board meeting at 7:00 pm in the ISD 318 Administration Building. 

Local residents will vote on April 10 whether or not to approve the funding needed to enact the School Board’s plan. You can find out more about current needs in elementary schools and activity facilities as well as the ISD 318 School Board’s plan on our Facility Plan page.  MDE’s Review and Comment document can be viewed here.