The Crookston Community Education Advisory Board met for its second meeting of the year on Tuesday at noon in the Crookston High School District Office Conference Room.


The board began the meeting by reviewing the minutes of their last meeting on October 25, 2022, before it heard an update from ECFE Director Gina Gunderson on upcoming Winter Programming. She first began with updates on the Early Childhood Family Education. She reported classes had started a few weeks ago and released their latest newsletter to the community. They currently have 20 children attending their Pop-In and Play events on Saturdays and started their “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” event to show students the areas around Crookston. Gunderson reported they were next planning to visit the Benedictine Villa, but Gaye Wick recommended that the class visit the Golden Link Senior Center for a potential project with the seniors.

Celebrate the Young Child Events & Early Childhood Initiative

She then gave an update on the upcoming Celebrate the Young Child Events (CYC) & Early Childhood Initiative (ECI). She first brought up that Grandparent’s Night in November, where over 100 grandparents and students participated in the event. They also had School Readiness Winter Fun Night that happened on January 23. Denice Oliver reported that 46 students from one classroom came to the event, and estimated about 150 students had come to play in the snow and the gym.

Early Childhood Summit “Thrive By Five”

She then went into an update about the Early Childhood Summit’s “Thrive by Five” program that had begun on January 17. She explained their Summit had met for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 50 members joining their Summit at the Bede Ballroom to discuss what children need to Thrive by Five. She explained they had come up with five priorities children should be taught by the age of five, which were Rest, Nourishment, Time, Movement, and Words.

Early Childhood Screening

The board then heard from Washington Elementary School Principal Denice Oliver with an update on the upcoming Early Childhood Screening that was coming up on the week of March 6. She explained they had sent out a brochure to parents to help them prepare for the Screening and would deliver an assort of items that students needed for the Screening.

Voluntary PreK

The final item they discussed were updates for the Voluntary PreK (VPK & Pathways II Grants that were due in January and February. Oliver explained they were in the process of completing the PreK grant to help them get the money for Childhood Education. She noted this was a helpful grant as it was a way to help some students come to the school for free without being turned away due to a lack of ability to pay.


The board then began discussing an update on various community needs and assessments. Oliver explained that they had a needs assessment they needed to do every year that the Minnesota Department of Education required that complete Early Childhood Programs complete needs assessments each year from organizations around the community to learn what parents identify as the most significant needs in the community for the young students. Some of the assessments included Tri-Valley Head Start Community Assessment, RiverView Health Community Health Needs, Polk County Public Health Coalition Community Action, and ECFE & Early Childhood Events Parent/Community Education Surveys. “Some of the things that came to the surface when we gathered information in our community a year ago were affordable childcare was a concern, and so was the availability of housing,” Washington Principal Denice Oliver explained. “Through these assessments, we can identify what is a big risk area in our community, and hopefully, some of our community businesses or organizations can help to meet some of those needs.” An example was the RiverView Health Assessment saying they had a substance abuse issue.


The board then heard from High School Principal Matt Torgerson and Interim Superintendent Dave Kuehn on the Middle School concept for the Crookston High School. Oliver explained that they had been talking about before and after-school programs needed for the Middle School addition, the most notable being PATCH. Torgerson explained there would be a remodel in the High School’s media center to create some new classrooms for them to create a Middle School for the 6th-8th-grade students beginning this summer. He explained the concept of the program is to help the students transition from elementary school to the high school level. These included programs like Advisory Time and WIN (What I Need) Time, where smaller groups of students would meet with a staff member to help monitor the student’s grades and inform their parents of any problems. “With our Middle School, we’re adding two new sections. An Advisory Time, in the middle of the day, where students can work with a certain teacher each day, hopefully throughout the whole year,” PATCH supervisor Sutton Junkermeier explained. “At the end of the day, we’ll have a WIN Time, where students can go to whatever subject they need to improve their grades. We’re still working out some kinks, but before WIN Time, we’ll have team time with the teachers, where we’ll look at the students to see what subject they’re falling behind on and what teacher they’ll meet with that day. It’ll mostly be teacher-guided, and if you have some students that are excelling, it’ll be an opportunity for students to explore some areas and new contents that are interesting to them.” He explained that it was a way to help the students with the transition from one to multiple teachers to help them have one consistent teacher with them. Torgerson mentioned that the PATCH program would also be staying with the district to help students with certain subjects they struggle with in conjunction with the new programs. Denice reported that 202 students had utilized PATCH this year, with the majority of them in 7th and 8th grade. Most of the help that students needed help with was math, followed by English and science. She noted there was a concern about the costs of the program for 2023-24, but she and Torgerson would discuss the program more.


The board then began discussing upcoming summer programs to prepare for. Oliver reported that the first event was the Safety Town event scheduled for the week of June 5-9. The next event was the Summer Care during summer vacation, which was scheduled from June 12 to August 18. It then began discussing the Summer Preschool Program that would start in July and last through August and the Summer Reading Program that is scheduled for August. However, Oliver revealed they would only be able to run the programs if the application for the Summer Preschool Programming to have the funds available. “The summer preschool program was a program that came about with COVID dollars because the state saw so much of a need for those kids that missed out on school opportunities. So, they offered preschool summer program grants that we applied for. We’re not sure if those grants will be available again. If they are, we will apply for them because I think that any kind of extra programming kids can get to help them get ready for kindergarten is a good thing.” The final program with an update to the Community Education Mini Camps that happened every weekend in June starting June 13-15, 20-22, and 27-29. She reported, however, that the Mini Camps were not well attended last year. The school was debating if they would continue using the format for those camps and would make decisions on its continuation over the next month. The board then opened it up for other programs or organizations could collaborate for any of the events. Chris Boike said they could collaborate with their Summer Library Program and their “Read 1000 Books” challenge. Gaye Wick offered that the camps could come to a play at the Crookston Community Theatre during Ox Cart Days for the children to visit for an activity for the camps.

The Community Education Advisory Board will next meet on Tuesday, March 21.