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Photo by Dana Pavek/WDC Schools The interior of the District 2155 offices was left in shambles after the June 17 tornado that hit Wadena.

WDC district will turn to St. Ann's, M State

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Absolute facts were scarce at District 2155's June school board meeting but board chairperson Ann Pate reaffirmed that doors would be open for Wadena-Deer Creek students on Sept. 7 when classes are set to begin for the 2010-11 school year.

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"As we all know, with the storm WDC is in a state of emergency," Pate said. "On behalf of the board and the administration, I would like to say that WDC will be open for classes on Sept. 7 the opening day of school. We will be open, K-12."

Since Monday night's school board meeting, school officials have made some plans regarding the deployment of WDC students.

M State-Wadena, which is directly across the street from the high school, will provide classrooms for WDC's top four grades. The institution also serves as a technical college.

Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary suffered only minor damage and can be used. It presently houses high school and district administrative personnel. The elementary will provide classrooms for students in grades 2-8.

St. Ann's Catholic School in Wadena will be utilized for kindergarten and first grade classes. St. Ann's has six classrooms.

The tornado that ripped through western Wadena Thursday, June 17, hit the high school head on, destroying huge sections of the roof, blowing out windows and making the structure dangerous to enter. Some sections of the school are so unsafe that structural engineers, who must assess the damage, will not enter them at this time. A fence has been erected around the school.

Pate has fielded many queries about the contents of the WDC high school building.

"We do not have an answer at this time," Pate said.

Five of WDC's school busses are unharmed. One was in for repairs and four were parked in Deer Creek. The rest were in a garage on the Wadena County Fairgrounds which was destroyed by the tornado. They have been removed from the rubble and parked along U.S. Highway 10.

WDC superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom has been promised a report on or before July 7 by the school's insurance provider on a very large question -- can damage to the school be repaired or will a new school have to be built?

WDC High School is 45 years old. Additions to the original building were opened in 1992. It was set to house approximately 500 students in grades 7-12 this year.

According to WDC business manager Jerry Anderson, the high school is insured for the replacement value of the building and its contents.

Representatives of Riverport Insurance Services attended Monday's meeting and assured the school board that their company had the financial resources to meet its obligations. John Paulson is the local agent for Riverport.

The school board granted Dahlstrom emergency resolution powers, but also decided to meet each Monday for the next four weeks to keep in close touch with the situation.

Dahlstrom was empowered by the resolution to hire additional staff, as needed, and to use financial resources, as needed.

The board approved a recommendation by Dahlstrom to increase the number of kindergarten sections from three to four. Kindergarten enrollment at WDC Elementary this year already stands at 71.

"We generally pick up six or seven over the summer and I think we have a real good tab on the ones that have registered already so I'd say you are looking at 75 or 80," WDC Elementary principal Louis Rutten said.

The board approved the 2010-11 budget at 75 percent of the 2009-10 budget based on a recommendation by Anderson. The board accepted the resignation of head girls' tennis coach Neil Koehler and approved coaching assignments for Matt Jones (assistant football), Peter Tranvik (head girls' tennis), and Keith Ferris (head girls' basketball).

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Brian Hansel
(218) 631-2561
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