Park Rapids Schools receives $200K endowment – Park Rapids Enterprise

Superintendent Lance Bagstad announced Monday, Oct. 2, that the Park Rapids Area Schools have received a $200,000 gift from the Don Tomte Trust.

Bagstad told the Park Rapids School Board that, under the terms of the endowment, the school district will create a reserve fund in an interest-bearing account to be used for career and technical education (CTE).

He said the funds could be used for programming, equipment and materials, or a scholarship to a deserving student. It will not be used for staff salaries, benefits or consumable materials.

“There’s some flexibility in how we can expend it,” said Bagstad.

“It will be used to fund assets to the duration of and beyond the life of the Tomte Endowment,” he said. “The district will manage and disburse the endowment funds in increments of $10,000 or $20,000 over 10 or 20 years, and this can be adjusted as to the wishes of the family.”

Bagstad said the interest accrued over time will be used to extend the lifetime of the endowment. The endowment committee will include the superintendent, business manager, a school board member, the high school principal and select representatives of the CTE faculty, and will report to the family on their management of the account.

“I think that’s an amazing gift that Don Tomte left Park Rapids,” said Bagstad.

Noting that Tomte graduated from Park Rapids High School, Bagstad described him as “a math person” and a millwright who was passionate about the skilled trades.

The school board discussed a change of conference for the Panthers hockey program.

Bagstad reported on behalf of Activities Director Jeremy Nordick that since the high school’s previous athletic conference, Mid-State, has dissolved and its new conference, Heart O’Lakes, does not have hockey, the school has been looking into another option for the hockey program.

“The West Central conference has invited us to join,” said Bagstad. “Park Rapids Area Hockey Association is aware of this and is in favor of moving to this conference that involves teams we’ve already been playing or have been part of the Mid-State Hockey Conference.”

Bagstad said Nordick wants to apply for admission to West Central. Schools in the conference would include Breckenridge-Wahpeton, Morris-Benson, Park Rapids, Prairie Centre (Long Prairie and Sauk Centre-Melrose) and Wadena.

Bagstad said that with the school board’s consent, Nordick would go ahead with the application and bring the conference change back to the board for approval.

Austin May, a project engineer with ICS, reported the latest progress on construction of school facility improvements. He said the projects continue on track with regard to schedule and budget.

May said footing and foundation work was completed on the high school administration addition on the east side of the school.

Meanwhile, he said, roof work and cold-formed framing continue on the new seventh and eighth grade wing to the south, where underground plumbing has been installed and work is underway on a slab-on-grade foundation.

May said structural steel work continues on the district administration wing, along with concrete block construction of the new gym’s equipment storage area.

Moving on to the bus garage site, May said foundation work is complete, while erection of the pre-engineered metal building for the maintenance shed continues.

Site improvements at Century School are complete except for a few punchlist items remaining to be addressed. May described it as a successful project overall.

In consent items and general business, the school board:

  • Accepted the resignation of Amber Schroeder as an assistant speech coach and Shaun Johnson as a licensed school social worker. 
  • Hired Kelsey Price as an early childhood special education paraprofessional, Julie Eck as a middle school special education paraprofessional, Art Ruiz as a cook’s helper and Nichole Weston as an assistant speech coach.
  • Approved teacher tenure as of the 2023-24 school year for Ronda DeWulf, Emily Haen, Nicole Johnson, Shaun Johnson, Morgan Miller, Lexi Koerbitz, Annie Lehrke Minske, Nichole Christofferson Weston, Kami Johnson, Brian Johnson and Kali Mitteness.
  • Approved a list of winter coaches, including boys basketball head coach Jeremy Nordick, assistant coach Joe Morgan and junior high coaches Garrett Kovach and Eric Hillesland; girls basketball head coach Nic Lembcke, assistant coach Josh Yliniemi, C team coach Matt Brandt and junior high coaches Andrew Lachowitzer and Eric Hillesland; boys swimming head coach Todd Fritze and assistant Baylee Gartner; gymnastics head coach Tim Balfanz and assistant coach Matthew Backmann; wrestling head coach Matt Clark, assistant coach Jeff Dravis, junior high coach Mike Baumgartner, junior high assistant coach Shannon Dykhoff and volunteer coach Brett Bishop; boys hockey head coach Bill Moore and assistant coaches Sam Coborn and Josh Vinge; speech head coach Tanya Miller, assistant coaches Victoria Harju and Nichole Weston and junior high hoach Emily Schueller; and winterplay director Abigail Jasmer and tech director Victoria Harju.
  • Approved second readings of policies on wellness and Title IX sex non-discrimination.
  • Acknowledged donations,including $250 in classroom supplies from Thom and Cathy Peterson to Jennifer Michaelson’s kindergarten class and $1,000 from Sanquist Construction to the high school football program. 

The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16 in the “aquarium” at the Park Rapids Area High School media center.


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