The Pine River-Backus School Board is once again considering contracts for strategic planning and is so far considering returning to a group called the Big River Group based on its past thoroughness.

At the Monday, Oct. 18, regular meeting, the board looked at estimates from the Minnesota School Board Association ($9,000) and Big River Group ($300-$11,000 depending on services). MSBA provided strategic planning services most recently, but years earlier the district worked with the Big River Group.

Even at a potentially slightly higher rate, the board seemed to look fairly favorably upon the Big River Group because the group generally handled all parts of the strategic plan, whereas the PR-B administration staff was responsible for much of the strategic planning process under MSBA.

Superintendent Jonathan Clark offered to reach out to a third firm if the board wishes, called Pure Solutions, though he said the company is owned by a former coworker and supervisor and he didn't want to reach out without board permission.

In other business Monday, the board:

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  • Accepted the resignations of Barbara Bumgarner and Lisa Spizzo, paraprofessionals, and Lori Bartholomay, high school clerical worker. Board Chair Chris Cunningham issued a thank you to them for their time with the district.
  • Approved hiring Jennifer Krecklau as paraprofessional, Isaak Anderson as senior high Knowledge Bowl adviser, Melanie Lindquist as junior high Knowledge Bowl adviser, Jordan Ackerman as varsity boys basketball coach, Mike Dinnel as assistant boys basketball coach, Rick Aulie as junior high boys basketball coach, Tucker Sheley as varsity girls basketball coach, Lisa Toft as assistant girls basketball coach, Travis Hoffarth as varsity wrestling coach, Tom Demars and Justin Franke as assistant wrestling coaches, Patrick Foster as junior high wrestling coach and Jennifer Anderson as speech coach.
  • Received a grievance from Local 284, the specifics of which were not outlined at the meeting.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or