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January 27, 2020
Elementary Schools Update Summary

The two new Grand Rapids elementary schools and the remodeled Cohasset Elementary School are slated for opening in time for the 2020-2021 School Year. 

“We are very excited to be able to open the schools ahead of schedule,” said ISD 318 Interim Superintendent Sean Martinson. “Moving forward in preparation for next school year allows our kids and staff to take advantage of updated learning spaces even sooner than anticipated.”

“Our construction is on budget and ahead of schedule. We have been meeting regularly to accomplish the necessary steps before opening and will have no problem meeting the new opening date,” said Martinson. The school district has put together a timeline of expected announcements prior to the new schools opening.

Principals Announced
Last fall, The School Board approved creating 12-month lead principals for both the Grand Rapids and Cohasset schools. Due to the large size of the Grand Rapids schools, they will also have 10-month assistant principals.

At Cohasset Elementary, Jill Wheelock will remain the principal, but will now be working through the summer in addition to her regular duties. Cohasset Elementary will have two classrooms per grade, K through 5, and will assume the district’s Title I duties.

At the West Elementary, the team will be made up of lead principal Sean Martinson and assistant principal Clayton Lindner, who is currently the Southwest principal. The East elementary will have Ryan DeBay as the lead principal and Bruce Goodwin as assistant principal. Ryan is currently the assistant principal at RJEMS and prior to that served as principal at King Elementary in Deer River. Bruce also served as assistant principal at RJEMS and is currently the interim principal at Murphy Elementary. Forest Lake principal David Lostetter will move to RJEMS as the new assistant principal.

School Naming Committee
East and West have worked as designations for the new schools thus far, but the district has put together a committee made up of teachers, principals, school staff, parents, and community members to help find permanent names for the two new elementary schools. Throughout December, the committee asked residents and students to submit their suggestions. The results will be presented to the committee in January. The committee will work to narrow the choices and ask the community to rank their favorites. Results will be presented to the School Board in February.

School Boundaries
The School Boundaries committee will make a recommendation to the School Board in January. Throughout the summer and fall of 2019, the district invited community members, parents, and staff to work with the Transportation Department and Administrators to make a recommendation for new school boundaries and potential bus routes to the School Board. The group worked to balance the schools in student population, socio-economic status, and transportation routes. 

The boundaries and policies will be shared with parents in early February. There will be an implementation period of two years, after which the Board will return to the public for feedback and suggestions. Bus routes will be released as usual in August.

Teacher and Staff Placements
In 2018, as a part of the planning process for the new schools, administrators and staff created a process for staff placements in the new schools. Teachers will choose their new building based on seniority and grade level openings. Teachers will not be able to move between grades based on seniority unless a position opens due to retirement or resignation. The process of staffing the new buildings with teachers will take place in March 2020. Announcements will be made to families in the Spring, but students will not be assigned to teachers until Summer 2020.

When the principal positions were extended to 12-months, the School Board approved creating a 12-month lead secretary position at the East and West sites along with a 10-month assistant position. Cohasset will now have a 12-month secretary as well. These positions will be posted for internal application in 2020. The positions will be announced in February 2020.

Kindergarten ESPs will accompany their current teachers to the new buildings. ESPs in Elementary Special Education positions will also accompany current teachers in most cases. Other para positions will be posted as a part of the ESP realignment process in the summer.

Food Service staff who are displaced with the closing of current elementary schools will choose positions in the new schools based on seniority.

Any changes to the bus routes will be done during the route realignment process in the summer.

Program Design
In our current elementary schools, we have been limited in the number of electives (also called specials) we can offer to students due to a lack of available space and scheduling constraints. Our new elementary schools will include two music classrooms; two full-size gyms, equating to four teaching stations; “wet” labs suitable for such activities as science and art education; and makerspaces designed for flexible, creative work.

The Board received input from parents and from the Program Design committee. Principals will be examining schedules and recommending programming that takes advantage of these spaces while accommodating budget restraints.

We post regular updates about the elementary schools on our website at under the Facility Plan tab. You can also follow us on Facebook for the latest pictures and information.