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Brainerd School District to get new planetarium equipment

Heather Austen watches a laser show in February at Forestview Middle School in Baxter with her sons Jonny Clarke (left) and Kage Anderson. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch file photo1 / 2
Superintendent Laine Larson (center left) discusses matters with the rest of the Brainerd School Board at the Monday, Aug. 27 board meeting. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch2 / 2

The Brainerd School District has new planetarium equipment in its future.

With the help of funding from Sourcewell, board members agreed at their Monday, Aug. 27, meeting to enter into a two-year lease agreement with National Cooperative Leasing for the new equipment.

The district will see $292,000 in initiative funding from Sourcewell (formerly National Joint Powers Alliance) this school year, and some of that funding will go toward the $116,000 down payment for planetarium equipment, Director of Business Services Marci Lord told the board Monday. Sourcewell also promised funding for the next two school years, which will cover the rest of the $346,550 lease.

Lord notified board members of the approximate 11 percent interest rate on the payments but said the price was comparable to another company.

When the lease is up after two years, the district will have the option to buy the equipment for $1.

When asked what will happen to the old equipment, planetarium director Brian Wallace said some will be traded in for the new equipment, and the district will be able to keep the current computer system for the planetarium and put the new software on it.

"But a lot of it is unusable," Wallace said, noting computer equipment often becomes out of date after about four or five years. "It's kind of like going from a standard-definition TV to a high-def."

Wallace said the planetarium is going to "jump to a whole new level" with the new equipment.

"I'm really excited about it," he told the board.

Board member Chris Robinson abstained from voting, as he works for Sourcewell.

In other business Monday, the board:

Approved the 2017-19 food service contract.

Approved the second reading of a revised field trip policy, including guidelines on the use of employees' personal vehicles and procedures for taking attendance before and during field trips. After some discussion, Superintendent Laine Larson said she will discuss further revisions with her administrative team and likely bring the policy back for final approval at the Sept. 24 board meeting.

Scheduled a property acquisition public hearing at 5:45 p.m. Sept. 24, before the regular board meeting.

Heard three teachers were honored with Above and Beyond awards at the staff back-to-school kick-off Monday morning: Sandy Loney, science teacher at Forestview Middle School; Connie Christensen, executive assistant at Brainerd Learning Center; and Nicole Harmer, science teacher at Brainerd High School.

Approved the hiring of certified staffers Steve Fetzik, English teacher at Brainerd High School; Laura Jeve, first-grade teacher at Riverside Elementary School; and Courtney Miltimore, third-grade teacher at Garfield Elementary School.

Approved the resignations and retirement of certified staffers Dave Henschke, video productions teacher at BHS, retirement; and Katrina Powers, special education teacher at Forestview, resignation.

Approved the hiring of non-certified staffers Leah Ahman, special education educational assistant transportation at Washington Educational Services Building; Barb Breitbach, food service at Forestview; Julie Carter interpreter at Riverside; Jessica Cass, community education adult basic education teacher; Landy DeRosier, special education educational assistant at Garfield; Melissa Drake-Hannah, special education educational assistant at Lowell Elementary School; Paige Hoffbeck, special education educational assistant at Nisswa Elementary School; Rebecca Iverson, special education educational assistant at Lowell; Katelyn Jindra, special education educational assistant at Riverside; Heather Johnson, special education educational assistant at Lincoln Education Center; Arby Popp, special education educational assistant at Garfield; Dillon Krusse, special education educational assistant at Forestview; Sheryl Schmidt, media secretary at Garfield; Marylyn Stumpf, food service at Forestview; and Melissa Yunker, special education educational assistant at Forestview.

Approved the resignations and retirement of non-certified staffers Angela Holmstrom, special education educational assistant at Lowell, resignation; Justin Hubbard, behavior management specialist at Lincoln, resignation; Autumn Kordiak, special education educational assistant at BHS, resignation; Linda Ludwig, special education educational assistant at Riverside, retirement; Kim Olson, general education educational assistant at Early Childhood Family Education, resignation; and Laura Ostrowski Anderson, interpreter, resignation.