School board hears results of listening sessions with staff, students and community members

Two of four reports were presented; two more will be presented on Monday, Feb. 13.

School board photo edited.jpg
A representative of ICS consultants presents to the Wadena-Deer Creek School Board and district administrators on Feb. 1, 2023. The feedback about possible facility upgrades was obtained during listening sessions with school staff, students and community members. The consultants will meet with the school board again on Monday, Feb. 13 to discuss additional data about district demographics and a facilities analysis.
Devlyn Brooks / Wadena Pioneer Journal

WADENA — The Wadena-Deer Creek School Board received the first two of four data reports regarding possible facility upgrades to the local elementary and high schools that were commissioned from consulting group ICS during a work session on Feb. 1.

Three members of the ICS team presented data to the board that consultants gathered during a handful of January listening sessions for school employees and administrators, students and community members. Secondly, the consultants reviewed the results of an “educational adequacy” assessment of the district’s high school and elementary facilities, which was performed by the firm’s consultants.

The ICS consultants will be back next week to join the school board for another work session to provide more information including a demographics report and a facilities analysis report, said WDC Superintendent Lee Westrum, adding that all four data reports will be vital to moving forward with any proposed facility upgrades.

At the last work session, the ICS consultants walked the board and school administrators through a lengthy slide presentation one screen at a time, and explained in depth how they obtained the information and what it meant. In total, the presenters met with the board for 90 minutes.

The ICS consultants said some major themes that were prevalent in the data collected during the in-person input sessions with school staff, students and community members were that it seems everyone is in agreement that parking at each school facility is a challenge, that updates to outdoor athletic facilities are needed, and that there is a need for more educational space for career and technical courses.


Addressing the “educational adequacy” report, the consultants told the school board that their review shows that facility improvements made in the district in 2017 have resulted in fairly functional school facilities, both at the elementary and high school, but that there are some specific spaces in each building that could benefit from upgrades.

Westrum said that the full details of these two reports, in addition to the reports on demographics and the facility analysis, will be shared with school staff and the community again in upcoming sessions hosted by the consultants. The work sessions for the school board were just a chance for them to begin to wrap their heads around the needs, wants and desires of all the stakeholders. Essentially, he said, there still is a whole lot of fact finding left to do before any talk about facilities updates moves forward.

In opening the work session, ICS account executive Lori Christensen shared with the board that much of the data they’ve collected has been heard before.

“I don’t think there’s anything earth shattering that you don’t know about,” she said before the consultants presented the report.

Superintendent Westrum said discussion over possible facility upgrades in the district began last year when the board started discussing making improvements to outdoor athletic facilities such as the bleachers, concession stands, tennis courts and the track. He said it just made sense to discuss what other possible facilities upgrades were needed if the district planned to make improvements. And that has led to this fact finding process.

The board meets again with ICS on Monday, Feb. 13.

Devlyn Brooks is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and serves Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton, Minn. He also works for Forum Communications Co. He can be reached at for comments and story ideas.
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