December 2017
The Right Plan, the Right Time, Ben Hawkins, ISD 318 School Board

ISD 318 schools are important to me. My three daughters graduated from Grand Rapids High School and are very successful. For 26 years, I was the ISD 318 Business Manager. And, for the past six years, I’ve served on the School Board.

It’s important to me – as it is to many local residents I’ve talked with – that we continue our community’s tradition of investment in our schools. Making a wise investment takes time: time to research all the options, find out the facts and consider the future.
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November 2017
Good Schools are Important for All, Joni Olson, ISD 318 Superintendent

Ever since I arrived here in the district last summer, it’s been apparent to me how important schools are to our community.

I have heard so many good questions from local residents about improvements needed in local schools and why they are necessary and how we can make the wisest investment for our future.
Now, we are getting closer to the community’s decision on the future of our schools. The School Board has set a referendum date of April 10, 2018.
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November 2017
A View from Murphy Elementary, Sean Martinson, Murphy Elementary Principal

 Our community’s youngest students are in dire need of classroom space – all four Grand Rapids and Cohasset Elementary Buildings are critically overcrowded. Here at Edna I. Murphy Elementary School, we serve 344 students in three sections per grade, in K-4. That’s a total of 15 sections – twice as many as the building was originally designed to serve in 1952. The overcrowding doesn’t just make classroom space tight – it puts a strain on our gym, lunchroom, kitchen, bathrooms, and hallways, too.
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October 2017
We Can Solve Space Issues, Mindy Nuhring, EFT Co-Chair

Next month, the School Board will present its plan for solving the serious elementary school space shortages in Grand Rapids and Cohasset to local residents. The School Board has carefully reviewed the recommendations made by the community-led Elementary Facilities Taskforce (EFT) and identified additional ways to reduce costs to implement the plan.
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September 2017
Hear, Hear! Scott Briske, Forest Lake Principal

I am writing to echo Superintendent Joni Olson’s praise for the good work of the Elementary Facilities Taskforce, often referred to as the EFT (It’s going to be a great school year, September 3). This group of more than 200 local volunteers did an outstanding job of asking questions, getting the facts and understanding school needs – then exploring the best solutions. They recommended building two new neighborhood schools to replace the three old elementary schools in Grand Rapids and renovating and expanding Cohasset Elementary School. These recommendations would solve the serious space needs of our community’s youngest students.

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September 2017
Back to School, Joni Olson, ISD 318 Superintendent

It’s a thrilling time of year for any educator – and of course for students and parents! – when kids head back to school. I am eagerly anticipating all the learning that will happen over the next nine months. It’s going to be a great school year! 

I am honored to serve as the new ISD 318 superintendent as we begin the new year. I’m originally from Silver Bay and have spent my entire career in Minnesota, starting my career in special education and school social work. I come to you from St. Cloud where I’ve worked as a school administrator for nearly two decades. 
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August 2017
Facility Planning Update, Tom Peltier, ISD 318 Board Chair

Since 2005, we have been facing increasing enrollments and class sizes while coping with changes in the needs of children and aging infrastructure. Because of these issues our elementary schools are no longer appropriate for the kids in our community. However, the community did not agree with the 2015 plan to replace the elementary schools with two new schools.
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March 2017
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.
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February 2017
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. 
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January 2017
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.
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December 2016
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.
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November 2016
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.
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November 2016
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.
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October 2016
Space in Elementary Schools Creating Difficult Challenges, Rochelle Van Den Heuvel 

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.
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September 2016
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.
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