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Have your say in the schools: Public invited to join new task force

Community members interested in sharing their thoughts and opinions about renovating or building a new Perham High School are invited to join a new task force.

Everyone is welcome to attend and contribute.

“I think just about everyone knows the original portion of the high school will be 100 years old next year,” said Perham-Dent Superintendent Mitch Anderson. “And everyone has questions about ‘what ifs.’ If they build a new school, what will happen to the old building? What about the Perham Area Community Center relationship?”

This is a chance to put everyone’s minds together to learn and address those questions, Anderson said.

Task force members will study, assess and discuss the condition of the district’s buildings, especially the high school, and present their recommendations to the school board in early fall.

Pat Overom, of ICS Consulting, will lead the meetings. ICS specializes in planning for school districts and assessing their needs.

The first meeting of the group will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 25, in the Perham High School student union.

Ultimately, the task force will meet six or seven times throughout the summer, gathering every other week for about two hours each time.

Members of the school board and administration are not allowed to attend these meetings without being invited by the task force. Their function will be only to provide background information.

A tentative agenda has been set for each of the meetings.

June 25: Community members will tour the facilities and record their initial observations. Ground rules will be established, along with organization for the group. Overom will lay out the planning process as well as preliminary goals.

Meeting two: Review baseline data of existing facilities and program needs. Explanatory overview of school finances, including operating and building costs, funding options and possible alternatives.

Meeting three: Go over standards for educational facilities and generate options to meet needs, followed by small-group discussions and reactions.

Meeting four: Create consensus statements and evaluation criteria to be used for evaluating various solutions and ideas.

Meeting five: Develop options for proposed needs while considering costs of meeting these needs. Discuss funding options along with educational and operational needs.

Meeting six: Evaluate options from meeting five with criteria set at fourth meeting, along with small group discussions and reactions.

Meeting seven: Come to an agreement within the committee on recommendations. Prioritize options for facilities; develop recommendation for timeline of implementation.

Presentation of the group’s recommendations to the school board will occur after this process is finished.

If interested in joining the task force, contact Mitch Anderson at 346-4501 or