Matt Grose had a vision and spearheaded a bond referendum that passed with a remarkable 68 percent rate. What was different about this referendum than others the school district had not previously passed? Grose’s community-minded approach.

Instead of focusing solely on the enrollment growth straining the elementary school, Deer River Schools Superintendent Grose expanded his vision to include the needs of the community as a whole. He involved stakeholders from varying constituencies to help make this dream a reality.

“It takes more work and effort to expand the discussion outside the board room into the general communities,” Glenn Chiodo, Park Rapids School’s Retired Superintendent said. “Gross had the dedication, willingness and fortitude to go above and beyond for the community and do just that.”

Grose’ leadership, drive and dedication to community collaboration throughout this project earned Deer River Schools MREA 2016 Profile of Excellence Honorable Mention Award.

One of this project’s innovative ideas brings senior citizens and elementary students together. The community and school board believe that combining these two groups would bring invaluable lessons in compassion, role modeling and volunteering.

The new facility helps solve another issue plaguing rural communities like Deer River – after-school care. The new expansion includes a Boys and Girls Club so students have a safe and active place to go after school, while their parents finish their work day.

Construction is underway for a $10.5 million project that not only addresses their elementary facility growth, but also includes an addition that adds space for a Boys and Girls Club, Senior Citizen Center, Community Café and Early Childhood Center.

“Every bond referendum should engage the community, but this project took it to a new level and the community responded with the utmost support,” MREA Executive Director Fred Nolan said.  “The district expected about 50 people at the groundbreaking ceremony and were overwhelmed with pride and gratitude when over 400 community members came to support the efforts. That support has been ongoing. The benefits are easy to see, and they go far beyond the students.”