Recognizing the Work of the Citizen Committee, Pat Medure, ISD 318 Board Member
I am writing to send a big “Thank You” to the more than 50 residents who turned out on March 7 to help our community find the right plan for the future of our schools (ISD 318 ADDRESSES SPACE ISSUES THROUGH COMMUNITY DISCUSSION, March 12).
As you know, we are struggling with severe space shortages in the four Grand Rapids and Cohasset elementary schools. These shortages have forced the district to lease 14 portable classrooms, as well as other space in the community to provide classroom and support space. The space crunch is due to growing demand for early childhood education, the move to all-day kindergarten a few years ago, an increase in children in special education classes and implementation of 21st teaching methods like technology-assisted education, individualized instruction and small group learning that help all children reach their full potential.
Murphy Elementary School: Then and Now, Sean Martinson, Murphy Elementary Principal
When students first began at Murphy Elementary School, Truman was president, a stamp cost $0.03, The Old Man and the Sea was published, and The Honeymooners had just debuted on CBS. The times have changed, but the school hasn’t.
When Edna I. Murphy Elementary School was opened to students in 1952, it was designed to comfortably house Kindergarten through sixth-grade students. It sat on a 5-acre parcel of land that also held a baseball field, playground equipment, and an open field for flag football, tag and other outdoor games plus a faculty parking lot. At that time, it was the right facility for the 1950s, perfect for the community it supported.
Reflections on Forest Lake Elementary, Sherry Colter, Special Education Teacher
Recently, the Herald Review published a column from Forest Lake Principal Scott Briske. And, he’s right. Forest Lake is filled with great teachers, kids, and families. And, he’s also right that they’re making everything happen in a space that isn’t right for the way we teach today.
I left Forest Lake School after 2 1/2 years as principal to return to the classroom. I’m a Special Education teacher and I love working with kids in this area in a regular school setting. And, I’m lucky I get to do so, because it wasn’t that long ago that kids with special needs wouldn’t have attended our schools.
We Need the Right Space, Scott Briske, Forest Lake Principal
This is my first year as principal at Forest Lake Elementary and I love my job. We have great teachers, inspiring students and engaged parents and guardians.
What we don’t have is space and specifically the right space.
Forest Lake was built in 1953, and was built to accommodate students in a 1950s style classroom with all students learning the same lesson at the same time. No technology, no breakouts, no individualized instruction to help each child reach his or her potential. No special education. No advanced learning opportunities. No early childhood classes.
A Principal’s Perspective, Ken DeCoster, principal at Southwest Elementary School
Over the past few years, the space crunch at Southwest has continued to worsen. In fact, this fall the district needed to realign school boundaries to ease crowding at Murphy and Forest Lake schools, sending more students to Southwest as a stopgap response to the growing space shortage in all Grand Rapids and Cohasset schools.
I’d like to take you on a “tour” of our school to show you what our students, teachers and staff are facing because of lack of space.
Space in Elementary Schools Creating Difficult Challenges, Rochelle VanDenHeuvel
Over the past several years, you have been hearing about the space needs of ISD 318 elementary schools in Grand Rapids and Cohasset. The difficulty we face is a good problem to have – enrollment in elementary grades has been increasing, and when added to our all-day kindergarten and early childhood students, we have an explosion of young learners ready to be educated.
Planning for the Future Reflects Community Pride in Our Schools, Dr. Thomas
This time of year is bittersweet for many people. The beautiful days of a Minnesota summer are coming to a close. The more relaxed schedule of August gives way to the more hectic routine of September. But I have to say, I look forward to fall and the return of our dedicated students, faculty, and staff.
Back to school is a time when all of us can reflect on the accomplishments of students and staff and recommit to upholding the proud tradition of excellent education in our community.