ISD 166 hires new principal, continues HRA discussion, and handles Silver Bay field trip incident
Rhonda Silence

ISD 166 hires new principal, continues HRA discussion, and handles Silver Bay field trip incident

On March 23, the eighth-grade students at ISD 166 participated in a field trip to attend a production at William Kelley High School in Silver Bay, along with students from numerous other schools. The students arrived at the high school safely; however, prior to the start of the production, the William Kelley administrators became aware of a rumored threat of violence at the school. 

Law enforcement was immediately notified, and the administration took appropriate action to ensure everyone’s safety. The administrators decided to cancel the show and have the visiting students return to their home districts.

“It’s a sad event that happened, but it’s definitely a lesson that rumors are not okay,” Chris Lindholm, the superintendent, said. Lindholm sent an email to notify and inform Cook County parents following the incident.

Lindholm said a Cook County student did not start the rumored threat of violence. Law enforcement officials determined there was no real threat to the students.

Lindholm added, “Kudos to our staff for, I think, handling it well, and to the administrative team at William Kelley and the law enforcement folks that had to make that hard, hard decision.”

HRA Discussions

During the March 16 school board meeting, the school board accepted public comments regarding the proposed sale of a 27-acre parcel of land to the Housing Redevelopment Authority (HRA). Most of the in-person and written comments supported the land transfer to the HRA for a residential housing development project. 

The school board members did not vote during the March 16 meeting and will continue to discuss the matter taking the public comment into account. “I think next steps for our board is to digest that and have a work session right after spring break in early April,” Lindholm said. 

Lindholm said he is working with Jason Hale, director of the HRA, to begin putting together a draft option agreement for the school board to discuss. Lindholm said it would depend on how fast the board members want to progress. The board could either approve or deny the option agreement with the HRA as soon as April. 

Newly Hired Principal

Following the recent announcement of the resignation of principal Megan Myers following the end of the 2022/2023 school year, ISD 166 began the interview process to find a new principal. Prior to the March 16 school board meeting, ISD 166 hired Josh Belanger as the new principal for the 2023/2024 school year. 

Belanger served as the assistant principal at Coon Rapids High School and has 18 years of teaching and leadership experience. His family will move to Cook County this spring and officially start at ISD 166 on July 1. 

Fundraising Proposal

Mike Theismann, the physical education teacher and a football and junior high basketball team coach, approached the school board for approval of a fundraising proposal. Theismann is looking to raise funds for the purchase of strength and conditioning equipment to be used by Cook County athletics and the Cook County physical education department. Funds would be raised by seeking sponsorship from local businesses, families, and individuals.

Theismann explained during the meeting the need for a more developed strength and conditioning program for students and athletes. Currently, many of the students and athletes use the YMCA for strength training and conditioning. The purchase of the equipment would benefit athletes but also allow for programming in the summer and a fitness-focused physical education class during the school year. 

Upgrading the equipment would cost approximately $16,109.50 and include power racks, barbells, hex-bars, resistance bands, bumper plates, storage equipment, and weights. 

The fundraising sponsorship would include hanging banners with the name of sponsors or businesses in the Pam Taylor gymnasium for four years and has a tiered system based on the size of the banner. 

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Lindholm following the Silver Bay field trip incident and the March 16 school board meeting. Audio from the interview is below.