Program earns praise, but price tag is deemed too high.

    At Monday's Crookston School Board meeting, Crookston High School Principal Lon Jorgenson called the Achieve More program an "absolutely wonderful" program.

    But he also added a third adjective to describe the initiative launched by the U of M Crookston's Center for Adult Learning (CAL) at CHS and Highland School last fall: Free.

    Achieve More, coordinated by UMC CAL staff and involving partners like the Crookston Chamber and RSVP, along with several volunteers from the community, is comprised of College and Career Prep 101 at CHS and Junior Achievement at Highland School. UMC CAL Director Michelle Christopherson secured a $25,000 grant through the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, via the Impact 20/20 initiative, to fund the first year of the program. At the board's last meeting, Christopherson and her staff, along with some CHS students, pitched a $24,000 investment on the part of the school district to continue the program for a second year.

    Monday, board chair Frank Fee said the board tried to find the $24,000 during a discussion at their retreat last week but wasn't successful.

    "It's a great program, and you heard the kids speak out about it, but we don't have an infinite amount of cash," Superintendent Chris Bates said.

    Board member Adrianne Winger said she was a Junior Achievement volunteer earlier this spring and that the kids really enjoyed it. "Finding $24,000 for it is the hard thing, though," she said. "If we could guarantee that the $24,000 was there, I'd feel differently."

    Board member Keith Bakken asked Jorgenson if current staff could provide some of the Achieve More components. Jorgenson said that might be possible on some level, but that the high school staff is already stretched thin. "We could do some of it, but not to the depth that it has been this year," he said. "I really liked that they involved the city and the businesses."

    Fee asked board members to make a motion to provide the $24,000 for a second year of Achieve More, but no board members made one.

    Meanwhile, Christopherson is seeking a $300,000 Otto Bremer Foundation grant to fund Achieve More in Crookston and in three nearby school districts for the next three years. Those districts have committed local dollars to bring the program to their districts. Christopherson said if the grant is funded, the Crookston district would have to come up with a $20,000 match.