The Forest Lake Area School District had the first reading for the plan of the new Rangers sports complex. The complex will include a new football field, bleachers, track, softball field, and soccer field. 

The construction for the project does not have a start date set currently. However, the board will be asked to approve the project labor agreement during its Nov. 5 meeting. This will allow construction to start sometime in the spring; with weather permitting, the project should last three to five months. 

Athletic Director Mike Hennen has begun making plans to move home events for spring sports that would utilize the current facilities elsewhere, including other schools and the Forest Lake Community Learning Center. 

The board also discussed the financial implications of the project, and the $7.4 million construction project is set to not raise taxes for property owners in the area. 

COVID-19 updates

Superintendent Steve Massey also discussed the school’s current standings on COVID-19 and the district’s plan to keep students and staff safe. 

At the time of the meeting, there had been nine students out of the 5,823 student body and three staff members out of 1,477 faculty who had tested positive for the virus.  

Massey also discussed the current case counts that the district has been receiving from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Education. 

Before school had started, Washington County’s case totals were putting the district in the model that recommends secondary and primary schools be moved hybrid. 

The number of cases has gone down in Washington County, dropping from 20 to 14 cases per 10,000 people. Meanwhile, the number of cases within Anoka County has now risen from 17 to 20 cases per 10,000 people, bumping into the model that has both secondary and primary participating in hybrid. 

Massey continued to stress they are monitoring the ZIP codes for the school district and that even if they were to see a small spike in cases that they should  not abandon ship and leave their current model. 

“This metric is meant to be a guidepost for the district; it’s meant to give us a gauge of where we are at with the county,” Massey said. “It’s not meant to move us in and out of our school model but to reinforce [the model].”

The MDE has guided the district to be in its model for the long term and that it should not shut down a school unless it is unable to contact trace. If the district cannot contact trace, then it will take more aggressive measures like it did when Wyoming Elementary School closed. The school has now reopened as of Oct. 5 after being moved to completely distance learning for two weeks. 

Massey also took time to praise faculty and staff for the work that they have been doing since school started. 

The school district will continue to monitor local case counts to ensure that students and staff are safe as it receives reports from the state. 

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