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October 23, 2018

8/17/2017 4:06:00 PM
School board moves to take bids for middle school tennis courts, potential location has critics

A former girls tennis player, a current girls tennis player and a resident who has volunteered his time with the program all used the open forum to plead with the Chisago Lakes School Board to not move the tennis courts from the high school campus at the Thursday, August 10 board meeting.

Tim Alm, who said he volunteers with the program and was a former teacher and coach in the Minneapolis school district, was not in favor of the tennis courts being moved to the middle school as part of the referendum plan.

The current plan calls for the new community center to be built over part of the existing high school parking lot. To make room for additional parking, the current high school tennis courts needed to be moved, and the administration believes the best spot for them is at the middle school. Alm believes there is plenty of room on the high school campus where there are currently baseball, softball and football fields, saying that football teams rarely use a full field for practice.

Kailee and Janae Carlson echoed those sentiments. Kailee is a former Chisago Lakes tennis player who went on to play the sport in college, and Janae is her younger sister who is a co-captain of the Chisago Lakes girls tennis team. Both of them pleaded with the board to not move the courts. “It would be very sad for me to see and I don’t want to see our program take a step back,” Kailee said.

“The girls will be disappointed to know that the courts will potentially move,” Janae said of the team she is a part of.

Typically, the open forum doesn’t feature responses from the board, but chairman Mark Leigh did said that they’ve been attempting to deal with some of the issues that others have raised, but he said to Alm that the practice fields he’s referring to have already been designated for other sports.
Later in the meeting, the board made a motion to call for bids on construction of the tennis courts at the middle school. Board member Tom Lawlor questioned if they had exhausted all potential site options at the high school.

“We’ve explored every site at the high school. We’re cramped,” Superintendent Joe Thimm said. “We passed a referendum to get those practice fields built in 2007, and we’re not going to tear them up now. We can’t satisfy everyone. It’s going to be a showcase area over at the middle school. You’ll be able to see it from Highway 8.”

Lawlor agreed, saying, “It’s going to be a draw to that area. I think it will work out.”

Thimm also pointed out that it will add to the physical education curriculum at the middle school, and will satisfy a state standard of having that type of sport available to students. Currently, middle schoolers have no access to tennis courts. The high school will be able to keep tennis as part of its curriculum, though, because the planned community center will feature enough indoor courts to satisfy that need.

And with that, the board unanimously approved taking bids for court construction at the middle school.

The district recently received their MCA testing results. And while the data was fresh to them, Director of Curriculum Sara Schmidt went into the basics. In math, the district was 71.7 percent proficient, in reading, they were 67.8 percent proficient and in science, they were 60.6 percent proficient. All three were improvements over last year’s numbers.  

Schmidt had a few comments for each, saying that the math scores were “on the way back up” after a slight decline in year’s prior. In reading, she said, “We’ve been focusing on it and the scores are trending upwards, especially in the high school.”

For science, she noted that the tests are a bit tougher, and they are introducing a new science curriculum currently in the middle school, but that the test results were up just a bit.

Incoming superintendent Dean Jennissen’s contract was approved. His first official day is set for September 1 while outgoing superintendent Joe Thimm’s last day will be September 29. Jennissen’s beginning salary will be $145,000 for 260 days. This year, it’s prorated for 10 months since he is starting in September, so the amount is $122,691.80 for 220 days.

In an update on the referendum plans, Thimm said they’ve had some very good meetings so far and they were hoping to get final plans from Wold Architecture in the next month or so. They’ve been hesitant to get too much information out too early because things are always changing. Thimm said once the construction plans are more set in stone, they’ll start to release the specifics.

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