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Pine River-Backus School: Solar project facing difficulties

Tucker the Turtle made a surprise appearance at the Pine River-Backus School Board meeting during a Spotlight on Education discussion of the district's preschool programs. Travis Grimler/Echo Journal

A solar power project being negotiated between the Pine River-Backus School District and others is running out of time for approval. Superintendent Dave Endicott told the board Monday, May 15, that the Little Falls School District, one of the other districts collaborating on the project, is considering withdrawing from the project over questions of liability. Endicott said the project will not continue if Little Falls withdraws.

The Pequot Lakes School District is also part of the project.

The participating school districts and their legal representatives are working to create an agreeable contract absolving the school districts from any liability. If such an agreement is reached, the school districts in question may be able to continue with the project. In addition, the program success relies on meeting certain deadlines for tax credits and funding. Endicott said the Region Five Development Commission has indicated the program must be approved by the end of June or it will be canceled.

In other business Monday, the school board:

  • Designated Jolene Bengtson, business manager, as the district's identified official with authority for Pine River-Backus Schools.
  • Authorized posting for milk bids, bread quotes and diesel quotes.
  • Accepted the following resignations: Arlen Olivier, bus driver; Rebecca Stabenow, special education teacher; Joan Hardie and Stacey Gorr, speech language pathologists. The board approved posting for replacement of a speech language pathologist.
  • Approved hiring Alexis Hansen, special education teacher; Terri Kussart, speech language pathologist; and Elise Magner, elementary science, technology, engineering, art and math teacher.
  • Authorized four students to travel to a summer yearbook workshop in Texas. Students will pay for the trip.
  • Approved a student trip to Washington, D.C., in June 2018.
  • Adopted a resolution authorizing application for the National Joint Powers Alliance Innovation funding.
  • Adopted a resolution relating to the termination and non-renewal of the teaching contract for Ryan Pahl, a probationary teacher.
  • Authorized posting for a physical education teaching position for the 2017-18 school year.