Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Bethany Helwig
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Improvements coming to Willow River School, LifeSmarts team heading to nationals


March 28, 2019

Provided Photo

The Willow River Sophomore LifeSmarts team recently qualified for the 2019 LifeSmarts National Competition in Orlando, Florida on April 13-16. Team members include: Emma F., Eve F., Kaylee K., and Ellie N.

Various plans for improvements and renovations were discussed at the Willow River School Board's regular meeting on March 19. Quotes for an addition onto the bus garage were approved, with Rob Sahlen Construction to take on the labor while Willow River Lumber is to supply the materials. The total cost for the project will be $47,292.48 and will add lean-tos on either side of the existing garage. In the future, they would like to install electric, plumbing, and cement work in one stall so they can perform their own maintenance on and wash the buses.

A project to replace certain sidewalks around the school was approved to be undertaken by Advanced Concrete Works for $38,650. The project is set to begin this summer.

The board also approved payment of the Wendel Architect incremental fee for renovations to the elementary gym which will be happening this summer.

The school calendar for 2019-20 was set and approved to start on September 3 and end on May 29 for students, with the teachers' last day being June 1. Two snow days are built into the schedule so days would not have to be added to the end of the school year (unless more than two days are needed). The days set aside are Presidents' Day and April 9-10 (the 9th being a half day). There will be five half days through the year which allow the teachers to have professional development time in the afternoon.

Transportation coordinator Nikki Molis and Superintendent Bill Peel reminded everyone that spring heaves in the roads can affect transportation for students. The bus drivers have been cautioned to not travel on roads that they believe the buses cannot traverse safely. In such an event, the school will contact the parents of children affected. If parents are unable to bring their children to school themselves, then the students' absence will be excused.

Secondary Principal Gregg Campbell gave his report and spoke on the changes they are making for the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) testing. For those students who will not be testing at the time, the school will offer "lessons for life" to teach students life skills rather than giving them gym or library time. The students will be able to pick those classes that interest them.

The school's LifeSmarts team has been invited to the national championship in Orlando, Florida, April 13-16. The board approved their out-of-state travel. The LifeSmarts coach was confident the team would be able to raise the funds to pay for the trip.

Praise was given to the students who performed at the music competition in Duluth on March 11 and earned excellent and superior ratings.

The girls' 12UB hockey team was also congratulated for their win in the state tournament. Campbell added that he was amazed at the turnout of staff there.

"That was really cool, just to see the number of staff members there, so I appreciate that," Campbell said.

At the previous board meeting, a closed session was held for the mid-year superintendent evaluation. The board concluded Peel is on track for meeting addressed goals.

In other business, the board approved a contract with Wildstar Properties, Inc. to continue as the groundskeeper for the softball field.

Several donations were reviewed and accepted: $1,000 from Mille Lacs Ventures for the playground, $300 from Commercial Roofing for scholarships, and $164.55 from First United Presbyterian Church of Willow River for school lunch accounts.

Enrollment has increased to 418 students with several new additions and the loss of two students moving out of the area.

Councilor Aziz Al-Arfaj will be looking into the school's electric bill which has not declined since the installation of new LED lighting. He is also researching whether the school should lease or buy buses.

The Takedown Wrestling Club has moved into the basement and is enjoying the space.

A number of policies were revised and adopted: Staff Development (425), District Curriculum and Instruction Goals (601), Organization of School Calendar and School Day (602), Curriculum Development (603), Instructional Curriculum (604), Alternative Programs (605), Textbooks and Instructional Materials (606), and Organization of Grade Levels (607). Al-Arfaj thanked the policy committee for taking on the task of updating the school's many policies.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for April 16 at 6 p.m.


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