Crookston School Board News and Notes Fall 2020

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Crookston School Board approved 2021’s preliminary tax levy and an additional technology position, heard from district principals, and learned of this year’s enrollment numbers during their recent meeting. Activities Director Greg Garmen also informed the board of new technology that will be on display with school information and history for the public to enjoy.


     A preliminary property tax levy increase of 3.5 percent was set as the maximum amount the district could set for the 2021 year which includes the new bus garage and absence of the pool which was turned over to the City of Crookston. The levy amount can be decreased until the Truth in Taxation hearing, but cannot increase past the 3.5 percent.

    For reference, the certified levy history information shows:

    • 2020 Referendum - $330,849; proposed 2021 - $389,676

    • 2020 General - $1,388,180; proposed 2021 - $1,493,983

    • 2020 Community Service - $149,388; proposed 2021 - $143,369

    • 2020 Debt Service - $1,290,112; proposed 2021 - $1,241,617

    The Truth in Taxation hearing is set for December 14, 2020 where the final levy and 2021 budget will be set for Crookston School District.


    The board approved of adding an additional technology position for the 2020-2021 school year after hearing from Superintendent Jeremy Olson that the district is in need and “more reliant” on technology. Olson explained that they are short-staffed after losing a part-time tech employee and came up three different proposals for a new position, but suggested a full-time addition that would be hosted at Highland Elementary School.

    “There are concerns with smart boards and computers, and a lot of technology that needs repair, and also helping and instructing teachers with their technology,” he said, “We can tap into some of the CARES Act money and, in the future, we can get even more help but right now a one-year position.”

    Board member Mike Theis mentioned that he had been waiting for this request and he thinks they’ve been “hemorrhaging” with technology needs and believes, even during COVID time, that additional help would be positive.


    Washington Elementary School Principal Denice Oliver told the board that Food Services Director Anna Brekken applied for and received a fresh fruits and vegetable grant for preschoolers and kindergartners who will received free snacks twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    “The goal is to introduce fruits and vegetables they aren’t normally exposed to,” Oliver explained. “She (Brekken) did a lot of extra work to do that and she doesn’t have to, so kudos to her.”

    Oliver added that there is an educational component to the grant and students will watch a video about the snack while they’re eating it.

    Highland School Principal Chris Trostad started off his report by thanking the Christensen family who assisted at the Nature Center cleanup day by donating large industrial equipment for trimming trees and brush. Trostad said there would have been “100 truck loads to the transfer station” if they wouldn’t have been able to grind the piles down.

    He also thanked Nate Lubarski for donating LED lights to the school after their emergency backup lighting went off after 20 minutes during a recent power outage.

    During talk on how the school year has been going, Trostad couldn’t say enough about the teachers.

    “They’re picking up the brunt of this COVID stuff; they’re working hard and lot of them are feeling like they’re sinking faster than they’re swimming,” he pointed out. “Make sure you recognize them; hopefully a break will happen soon.”

    School board member Dave Davidson echoed Trostad’s comments saying teachers are “giving more to the district than they ever have before.”

    Crookston High School Principal Eric Bubna agreed saying with the amount of work the CHS teachers are doing you don’t hear them complain and added that “it’s fun to work with such a great staff.”


    Superintendent Olson told the board the district is currently at 1,116 students which is down from last year’s 1,140, but they’re only about 10 students under their projected numbers.

    “Fiscally, we’re fine; there is some proposed legislation for districts who lost enrollment from last year and some districts lost up to 200 students,” he explained.


    Activities Director Greg Garmen gave the board an update on fall sports with the addition of football and volleyball causing them to “start over” with schedules, and commended local news media coverage for keeping parents and the public informed. He also spoke of the work done during “COVID time” in March, April and May as staff painted the gym’s wood bleachers, put up new shot clocks, renovated the weight room, had more “Pirate Pride” signs made, and received Touch Pro displays.

    The Touch Pro displays will have three tabs, he explained, with information on athletics, activities and history with archive photos and school records available at the touch of the screen.

    “It’s a bad time to have a Touch Pro, but once COVID calms then people can go into the Commons and look at things,” said Garmen. “”We’ll update them every year, get the Wall of Champions and Wall of Fame info, and all the yearbooks, which Kevin Weber found dating back to 1907 or something, plus Robin Reitmeier found the Pepster newspapers and other historical things. We’ll have links and schedules, and Jackie Lindsey has been helping with special projects.”

    Garmen showed the board what the displays will look like and how far they’ve gotten on the Pirate pages.

Activities Director Greg Garmen shows the School Board what the Touch Pro displays are capable of