Onamia School Board meeting

Onamia teacher Julia Gray was the December Panther Pride winner on Dec. 16.

The Onamia School Board unanimously approved the 2019, payable 2020, levy taxes at the max amount of over $1.9 million.

The school board also announced during their regularly scheduled meeting Dec. 16 that they will seek a $1 million dollar loan because Federal Impact Aid is currently being held back from all Minnesota state schools, according to district officials.

According to the U.S. Department of Education website, the mission of the Impact Aid program is to disburse payments to local educational agencies that are overly burdened by federal activities.

Onamia School Board Chair Virgil Wind said the district’s business manager attended an Impact Aid conference the week Dec. 9, and the program is still unclear of when the payments will be made.

“Apparently Impact Aid tried a new system and are now reverting back to their old system,” Wind said. “This [loan] gives us a bit of leeway on the cashflow end.”

According to district officials, the aid will be coming at some point but it may not cover $29k in fees and interest the district is paying for the loan.

Onamia Superintendent JJ Vold announced Panther Days on Jan. 2 and Jan 3 which was born out of an Innovation Day where district staff were allowed to submit a new idea for the district to try out.

This year, the idea chosen was allowing teachers to teach something different than their regular classes to their students.

Vold said some of the ideas that teachers have submitted are officiating basketball, string art, making lanterns, making blankets to donate to the hospital, learning how to smoke food, writing workshops, and first aid.

Panther days are for grades seven through 12, and Vold said that this may excite students to come back to school after winter break.

“Attendance might not be that great those two days, so this might be a way to enhance that attendance,” Vold said.

December’s Panther Spirit Recognition was awarded to Onamia science and ALC Coordinator Julie Gray.

Gray, who has taught for 17 years, five at Onamia, has also contributed to robotics, volunteered to help the track and field team and also teaches credit recovery as well as Saturday school.

“I love teaching middle school science because at that age, I can still excite the students about science,” Gray said. “It is so fun to see the look in their eyes when they make the connection and understand the science.”

Gray said when she first took the job at Onamia five years ago she didn’t know much about ALC but it has since become a passion of hers.

“ALC students tend to get a bad rap, but they have to overcome so much to be here that when they succeed, it means so much to them,” Gray said. “Being part of the excitement when students work hard and set goals and achieve them is really something special. It is a rewarding experience to work at the ALC.”

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