By Randy Bergquist, Osakis Public Schools superintendent

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great 2019 and an even better 2020. As I think ahead to the year 2020, I start to visualize goals I have for myself, both personally and professionally. Starting a new year can be very exciting, often involving a fresh start, setting resolutions, or continuing on the path where you left off in the previous year. According to Wikipedia, the definition of setting a New Year’s Resolution is, “a person resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life.”

Writing down personal goals and periodically reviewing them supposedly makes them more attainable. I have found this helpful as we focus on professional goals the Osakis School Board and administration have for this upcoming year. First and foremost, any decision made by the Osakis School Board and/or administration is made with the student’s best interest in mind. People may not always agree whether the decision made is in the best interest of the student but careful planning and consideration is used during the decision making process.

The Osakis School Board determined this past month of December to keep the levy certification at a low level, hence only a 1.88% increase. This is great news for taxpayers, especially after the debacle of the Sauk River Watershed District and the ridiculous assessment process they implemented. This 1.88% increase is significantly below the state average as well as below other school districts in this region.

Two major decisions that need to be considered in 2020 is that of a new/replacement bus barn/garage and new/replacement of tennis courts. The Osakis School Board and administration have been working on these two items and welcome community feedback.

I have been told the bus barn/garage discussion has been going on for years. People might ask, “What does a bus barn/garage have to do with the education of students?” A new bus costs approximately $95,000 to $115,000 depending on the various features it has. Our bus barn/garage is outdated and in need of repairs. A new bus barn/garage will help with the protection, wear, and tear of our buses. Safe and secure buses help with transporting our students to and from school and extra- curricular activities at all times of the year.

Some questions that need to be answered regarding a new bus barn/garage are: Does the school build on school owned property? Does the school possibly lease a bus barn/garage owned by someone else? Does the school continue with the existing site and make repairs or modifications? These questions will be discussed amongst the Osakis School Board in the near future.

Our tennis courts are older and need repair every couple of years. We have five tennis courts separated with three on one side and two of them on the other side of the bus barn/garage. The school board is discussing the possibility of building/remodeling our tennis courts and/or increasing to seven or eight tennis courts. This increase in the number may help Osakis School student tennis activities and programs, the community with hosting of regional tennis competitions, community participation and engagement, and enhancing summer recreational opportunities for people of all ages. We are currently working on securing a tennis court grant to help with the cost of this project if the school board decides to go through with this process.

I want to make it perfectly clear that the Osakis School Board is not looking at going out to the public for any type of tax increase to pay for these perspective projects. On the contrary, we are looking at keeping the costs “inside” the school budget, as well as utilizing Osakis businesses to take an active part in the bidding, construction, and financing process. So, as we look ahead to our goals in the new year, we do so with anticipation and intentional decision making based on district needs and community feedback.

If you would like to contact members of the Osakis School Board and/or Osakis administration regarding community feedback on these possible projects and/or other school related items, here are the following emails. Becky Hensley: bhensley@osakis.k12.mn.us Michael Collins: mcollins@osakis.k12.mn.us Tom Grundman: tgrundman@osakis.k12.mn.us Greg Faber: gfaber@osakis.k12.mn.us Chris George: cgeorge@osakis.k12.mn.us Genny LeBrun: glebrun@osakis.k12.mn.us Randal Bergquist,Superintendent: rbergquist@osakis.k12.mn.us Brad Hoffarth, Secondary Principal: bhoffarth@osakis.k12.mn.us Shad Schmidt, Elementary Principal: sschmidt@osakis.k12.mn.us Pat Kalpin, Activities Director: pkalpin@osakis.k12.mn.us

Osakis Voices is rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.