What is happening with ISD 318 school planning?
When is the vote?
How much will the plan cost?  
Why do we need to address activity facilities?
Why does Bigfork need a new locker room and fitness facility?
Why turf all three fields at GRHS? Why not just one or two?
Isn’t turf a luxury? 
Who uses the fields?
What are the benefits of artificial turf?
Is turf safe?
Long term, does this save the district money or will it be an added expense?
How many programs will this plan impact?
Does this remove the band from practicing in the Reif parking lot?
Can the community have access to the new fields?
How long do turf fields last?
How much does it cost to replace a turf field?
How will the field replacement be paid for?
How can I find out more and share my thoughts?

What is happening with ISD 318 school planning?

The School Board is asking voters to decide whether to move ahead with school and activity facilities improvements throughout the district. These improvements will be presented to voters as two ballot questions:
1. Build two new neighborhood schools to replace the three existing Grand Rapids elementary schools and renovate and expand Cohasset Elementary school, including the addition of in-demand community space.
2. Improve weight and locker rooms at Bigfork, turf three game and practice fields at GRHS.


When is the vote?
April 10, 2018 is election day. 
Polls are open from 7 am - 8 pm at these polling locations.
February 23 is when early voting begins.
Residents may receive an absentee ballot by clicking here.
Or residents may visit the Itasca County Elections Office:
Itasca County Courthouse
123 NE 4th Street
Grand Rapids, MN 55744
Phone: 218-327-2849 or email Vicki Martin in the elections office at vicki.martin@co.itasca.mn.us ;

How much will the plan cost?
Here is the breakdown by ballot question:
Ballot Question 1 – total cost of $68.9 million: 
  • Build two new neighborhood elementary schools in Grand Rapids to replace the three existing schools, some of which could be re-purposed for early childhood education.
  • Renovate and expand at Cohasset Elementary, which includes adding more early childhood classrooms and shared community education and wellness center space.
Tax increase for the owner of a home in the district valued at $150,000 would be $7.72 a month.

Ballot Question 2 – total cost of $5 million:
  • Make improvements to local athletic and activities facilities to meet the health, safety and space needs of ISD 318 students and the larger community, including improvements to the Bigfork locker and weight rooms. 
  • Install turf at Noble Field, Legion Field, and the practice field. 
Tax increase for the owner of a home in the district valued at $150,000 would be 58¢ a month

Ballot question 1 must pass for ballot question 2 to pass 
If both ballot questions pass, the tax increase for the owner of a home in the district valued at $150,000 would be $8.30 a month
Home, business, agricultural and seasonal property owners can determine their tax impact on a tax calculator.
 


Why do we need to address activity facilities?
Kids who participate in activities and athletics are more engaged in and often do better in school. They have better GPAs, better attendance, and are less likely to experience truancy issues or dropout. But at Bigfork and Grand Rapids High Schools, the state of our activity facilities limits the opportunities available to kids.

At Bigfork, the lockers rooms are small and kids are changing in classrooms because of a lack of space. The school is unable to host multiple sports on a single evening.

Grand Rapids High School has added four sports but has not added any more practice or performance space. The vast majority of our field-based teams practice off campus, with students driving to sites across the city. Noble Hall field is limited in its use and still becomes a sea of mud by early October. The practice field (old Stadium Field) condition has deteriorated. Student-athletes practice in parking lots, hallways and even the streets.  Band members practice in a parking lot – under the guidance of their band director who stands a ladder set back near the woods. 

Our fields are in such high demand for our students, that we have taxpayer-funded fields that cannot be used by taxpayers. The Activity Facilities Plan addresses this need.

Why does Bigfork need a new locker room and weight facility?

Bigfork School has locker rooms that are undersized and kids are using inappropriate spaces to change. This has caused increased health and safety concerns. The available space at Bigfork School limits the number of competitions that can be hosted, with many student athletes using classrooms or other areas as locker rooms. This would allow Bigfork School to host more events, increase the health and safety of their student-athletes and enhance the health of all students at Bigfork School.

Why turf all three fields at GRHS? Why not just one or two?
Installing artificial surfaces on all three fields allows this plan to increase access for the entire community. If only one field were turfed, the school district would be the single user, based on demand and scheduling. If two fields were completed, the school district would monopolize most of the use with little room for community and youth athletics. With all three fields turfed, this complex becomes a community and school district venture. In addition, by installing turf on Legion Field, the community would add another football-sized field. If we turf all three we actually gain green space.

Isn’t turf a luxury? 
Artificial turf has quickly become the standard for athletic fields across Minnesota. In Northern Minnesota alone numerous schools, including Duluth Denfeld, Duluth East, Ordean Middle School, Lincoln Park Middle School, Proctor, Esko, Mountain Iron-Buhl, Moorhead and Mesabi East have added turf. Bemidji utilizes turf for their competitions and Superior, WI High School has installed an all-turf complex, consisting of a baseball field, softball field, and football stadium. 

Who uses the fields?
The fields would be utilized by Grand Rapids High School, Itasca Community College, and the Grand Rapids community. This plan would allow for youth and club soccer, lacrosse and other sports to have a dedicated practice space during their seasons. 

What are the benefits of artificial turf?
In addition to providing additional space that does not wear in the way that grass fields do, turfed fields provide a uniform playing surface, allow for PE use of the fields during the day, bring over 350 varsity practices back to campus, allow for community use of the fields and provide space for youth and club athletics and activities.

Is turf safe?
Multiple scientific studies have been conducted on the safety of artificial surfaces and none have found a link between the crumb rubber used in turf fields and cancer. In addition, studies have been completed looking at incidents of cancer in crumb rubber factories and researchers have found no link between working in a crumb rubber plant and cancer. 

Studies also have been conducted exploring how long bacteria remains present and viable on artificial and natural surfaces. These studies have concluded that bacteria does not live longer on artificial surfaces and in many cases have a shorter life cycle than on natural surfaces. 

Long term, does this save the district money or will it be an added expense?
Currently, the district spends roughly $50,000 in labor and materials to maintain the two district-owned sites. The cost of maintaining an artificial field is between $4,000 and $5,000/year. In addition to this, the district would save over $20,000 in lease levy money by bringing soccer and lacrosse back to campus to practice. 

How many programs will this plan impact?
This plan will impact nearly every athletic program in Grand Rapids. From providing dedicated space for club and youth activities to returning high school practices to campus, nearly all students will be impacted. This plan also helps to ease much-needed gym space in the spring by providing a surface that outdoor spring sports can utilize earlier in the year. 

Does this remove the band from practicing in the Reif parking lot?
Yes, the band will now have a dedicated, appropriate place to practice, free of interference from commuters and without the risk of running into parking lot obstructions or tripping on uneven pavement.

Can the community have access to the new fields?
Yes, this plan would allow for community use of the fields as well. By installing artificial surfaces, the fields will be able to be used longer each day and longer during the spring, summer, and fall. The anticipated uses of each field should increase over ten times the current limit. 

How long do turf fields last?
The fields will last between 10 and 12 years before needing to be replaced.

How much does it cost to replace a turf field?
Replacement cost is about ⅓ of the installation cost. Each field would cost a little over $400,000 to replace

How will the field replacement be paid for?
We anticipate that the district will plan for field replacements once they are installed. There are multiple options to consider, but the plan would not include asking voters to approve new spending when the life cycle of the fields are complete. 


How can I find out more and share my thoughts?
Contact the school district office via this form, or by calling 218-327-5723 or emailing .