A close look at all the options

Board considers maps for potential use of land purchase

With JLG Architects in town Aug. 16 to present the results of a brainstorming session held in July, the Aitkin School Board got its first look at what the potential layout for building could be on the 2016 land purchase by the district.

Two representatives of JLG, Mike Schellin and Kent Koerbiz, came to the meeting to present three potential maps for the property the district owns south of town.

The three maps were the result of a special brainstorming session July 26 following a tour of the property. School board members then sat down that night with maps of the site and to-scale building and field representations that could be placed on the maps.

The result of that meeting were the three potential layouts shown to the school board Aug. 16.

Both Schellin and Koerbiz said that the property the district has includes some lowlands and wetlands, but the maps show where compact layouts can be done. That would leave land open for future expansion or possibly to sell.

There are challenges in accessing the site from both 340th Lane and 344th Street in terms of creating an entrance to the property. Hwy. 12 is a good place for an entrance, but it is also the furthest from utilities.

Option Three (picture on front) got the most traction at the meeting, but parts of option one also appealed to some board members. Board member Joe Ryan also wanted to know what enrollments are, so the district can have a plan for potential expansion.

“We’ve got to be thinking long-term,” Ryan said.

The two from JLG urged board members to visit a finished school project the company had worked on, saying that it would give the district a better idea of the options available to it.

The two recommended Grand Rapids, a recently completed new-school project.

In other action at the meeting, there were a pair of public comments – both related to the previous week’s discussion on critical race theory.

Jennifer Cummings said that the board needs to better follow Robert’s Rules of Order, as she felt the CRT discussion happened backward. She also wants the district to update its website with minutes from previous meetings, as the last updated meeting minutes are from July 12.

Scott Miller, a long-time social studies teacher in the district, spoke about how history and social studies are about human nature.

“Last week, I heard the phrase, ‘just teach history,’” he said. “I’m still not sure how to process it. America’s past and present is both beautiful and ugly,” said Miller, who added that he feels it’s his job to teach history “honorably” and not indoctrination.

“No one I know has ever taught CRT as defined by last week’s meeting,” he added.