THE RED LAKE COUNTY CENTRAL SCHOOLS
School District and the Plummer School District joined into an Academic Pairing Agreement for the 2002-2003 school year and became the Red Lake County Central Schools and have continued this cooperative effort since, with plans to continue well into the future. The first agreement was made with both schools having their own K-4, with grades 5-8 attending at the Plummer School and grades 9-12 attending at the Oklee School. Then in 2005 the schools changed to their current configuration of grades K-6 at the Plummer School and grades 7-12 at the Oklee School. Both schools still have their own preschool programs which run for three days per week for children from three to five years of age.
The purpose of the academic pairing agreement was to enhance the educational quality and the number of different opportunities for the students of both districts. To do this at a time of declining enrollment and flat State funding would have been financially impossible for either district to accomplish on their own. Through a lot of planning and hard work by the staff of each district, the transition into the current K-6 elementary school and the 7-12 high school has become a reality that meets the original purpose. The combining of the resources and the people from each district has truly made for a stronger and more focused educational setting.
However the sharing of programs actually started back in ’82 with wrestling, and in ’87 basketball. Football, cheerleading and track combined during the ’89-90 school year, and volleyball in ’91. Softball became a new venture for both in ’95 as baseball already existed with Red Lake Falls. There have been many individuals in speech, wrestling and track, and teams in football, baseball, track, and girls BB, that have earned their way to the state tournament as the Mustangs. We currently have now entered into a second generation of cooping activities with sharing programs in Track, Football, Boys BB, golf, baseball and Speech with Red Lake Falls and are known as the Red Lake County Rebels.
So as you can see the future of the Red Lake County Central schools looks bright. Our current student population is only five less students than in the first year of the pairing agreement after many years of declining enrollment. This is result of two things: an increase in the number of children living in our districts. And the second reason is open enrollment- we now have fewer kids leaving our districts and also more kids are coming to our schools from other districts. This is a credit to our caring staff that takes the time to get to know each and every student. We are considered a small school and we take that as a compliment as we value small teacher-student ratios, and know that each student is special.
Both schools have many special programs and services to meet the many needs and talents of the wide variety of students and families that are a part of our learning communities. We work to provide a safe emotional and physical learning environment for all students. Starting with the School Boards, and then through all employees, the welfare and education of students is the number one priority.
One of the biggest educational opportunities for juniors and seniors has been the earning of college credits while in high school. We offer this opportunity in two avenues, college in the high school classes and also online college courses. A student can earn up to 32 college credits while still attending RLCC high school. This opportunity definitely helps save on the cost of college for students and their families while providing a challenging and diverse curriculum for the last two years of high school. Some other increased educational opportunities are the pre-school programs, All day Every day Kindergarten, more health care related courses, economics and personal finance classes and new this year will be some agricultural courses.
We have been fortunate in the area of securing grants to help us recognize, and address a number of needs starting with a comprehensive reform grant, facility grants, Safe schools, Physical education, counseling, reading, System of Care, Response to intervention and maybe my favorite the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables grant which it looks like we will receive for the third year in a row.
The schools have also been very fortunate to have the support of the communities and surrounding areas of Brooks, Plummer and Oklee. Support through volunteering, by just being involved, coming to events or by interacting with the kids as it does take a village to raise a kid. And yes, also financial support through operating referendums, which neither district could survive without.
We can speculate about the future, but one thing will remain;and that is change will happen. Technology, energy, economics, medicine, war and peace, world order and things we can’t even imagine yet will set new challenges in front of us.
To meet these challenges we will need education, both formal and informal,we will also need character, values and morals and a confident and strong work ethic to succeed.
So we know for sure change will happen, but the recipe for success hasn't changed.