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School board explores potential construction to accommodate increasing Perham schools enrollment

Long-term facility planning at the Perham-Dent Public School District will take longer than originally anticipated but is still in the works.

Exterior front entrance to Perham High School.
Perham High School
Perham Focus file photo
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PERHAM — Long-term facility planning at the Perham-Dent Public School District will take longer than originally anticipated but is still in the works. This, along with multiple other educational items, was discussed at the recent school board meeting on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Two top priorities for facility changes have been identified: classroom space and a secured entry at Prairie Wind Middle School due to increasing enrollment. While the middle school currently has a security camera system that Superintendent Mitch Anderson said is working quite well, the security isn't at the same level as the elementary and high schools with their secured entrances.

With these specific entryways, visitors need to gain access through two locked doors to enter the schools. Administration buzzes these visitors in, so they're aware of everyone who enters the building. The district plans to utilize the same system at the middle school.

The district is also looking into funding possibilities for these projects, and Anderson said the facilities planning committee will soon meet again to explore multiple project revenue possibilities. A financial advisor will also review these plans.

Originally, the committee hoped to have a concrete plan to present to the board by December, but due to the project's complex nature and a need to explore multiple funding options, that's no longer a possibility. Now, Anderson said he hopes they will have something prepared by early spring.

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In the meantime, the board may have to explore temporary solutions to growing middle school enrollment and lack of classroom space for the 2023-24 school year until more permanent changes to the facilities can be made.

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Also discussed at the school board meeting were the following:

  • Parent-teacher conferences at Heart of the Lakes Elementary in mid-October had a 95% turnout.
  • At the end of each trimester, HOTL selects Outstanding Students of the Trimester. These students were honored at a recent assembly.
  • HOTL will host its holiday music program on Tuesday, Dec. 13.
  • Prairie Wind Middle School is working on developing more strategies and programs to continue supporting students who are learning English.
  • PWMS is looking into possibilities to add new lockers to accommodate student growth.
  • Perham High School students dressed in different flag colors throughout the week of Nov. 14 to honor Foreign Exchange Recognition Week.
  • Principal Ehren Zimmerman recognized the arts education opportunities available at the high school, including visual arts and performing arts such as band and choir. High school art students have been participating in the Memory Project, which provides handmade portraits to children in orphanages.
  • PHS is continuing to work on developing a work-based learning program. This could include work experience and internships for students.
  • With the winter weather here, Anderson reminded everyone that make-up days are now e-learning days instead.
  • The school board canvased the results from the state general election.
  • The next school board meeting is Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 5 p.m. in the Perham High School media center.
Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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