Also, news on superintendent cohort group, pool improvements, possible collaboration with Red Lake Falls.

    The Crookston School District is switching to a different instant alert vendor, and Superintendent Chris Bates said at this week's school board meeting that he hopes parents and families don't notice that anything's different.

    "I don't think parents will have to do anything different, but in the beginning we're going to have to make sure everyone is getting the calls," Bates said. "As soon as it's up and running we'll do a test run."

    The change to St. Louis-based SchoolReach is being done to save money. In the instant-alert cooperative the district currently belongs to, the annual rate is around $3,600, Bates said. SchoolReach will be paid $8,000 total as part of a three-year contract. "They reduced their price twice during the talks," the superintendent said. "It's a company I've worked with before and they seem to be fine."

Board notes
    • The cohort of school district superintendents that Bates has assembled to gather all kinds of data for comparison and research purposes continues to grow, with 21 school districts now sending in data. "The idea is if you want to join, you send everything in that's asked of you," Bates said, adding that some of the superintendents are starting to initiate specific data requests, such as substitute teacher staff levels and pay, and school principal salaries. "This is just going to get easier and better as this moves along," Bates said. "We're going to have all sorts of good, hard data at our fingertips."

    • Bates said he met with the swimming pool advisory board for the latest updates on the new pool surface project and new, energy-efficient lighting at the facility. The goal is a recommendation within the next six to eight weeks. Since the pool will have to be closed during all the sandblasting and tile work, Bates said the decision will come down to starting in early December after the Pirate girls' swimming season ends, or in early April 2013, after the Crocs swimming season ends. He said he's asked Pool Manager Ken Stromberg to put together a recommendation.

    • Bates, Business Manager Laura Lyczewski and Transportation/Grounds Coordinator Rick Niemela will be visiting with Red Lake Falls School District officials on Friday. The mechanic in the Red Lake Falls district is retiring, Bates said, and the two districts want to explore opportunities to potentially collaborate on the position. "Whether it's a sub-contracting thing or whatever, it's kind of exciting," Bates said. "It's something I think we haven't done before."