Last week was a terribly difficult week for the Fergus Falls Public Schools with the news of the death of senior student Trent Adam.

The following letter was posted to our website along with resources for parents on how to support their children:

With great sadness, I share with you that one of our senior high school students, Trent Adam, has taken his own life. We want you to know that we are here to help in any way we can. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family, friends and classmates.

We want to remind our community that a suicide is a very complicated act. It is usually caused by an illness such as depression, which can prevent a person from thinking clearly about his or her problems and how to solve them.

Members of our Crisis Response Team continue to be available to meet with students individually and in groups today as well as over the coming days and weeks. Please contact the school office if you feel your child is in need of additional assistance; we have a list of school and community mental health resources. The mobile crisis line for Otter Tail County is or 1-800-223-4512.

Student placement informational meeting

Parents and community members are encouraged to attend a student placement meeting at 5 p.m. Monday at the Kennedy Secondary School Auditorium — prior to other required hearings set for that same date.

I will review the district facility plan document that outlines student placement options that our Student Placement Committee has reviewed and there will be a time for questions.

The main focus of the meeting will be the overcrowding and high class size at Cleveland School. Options to discuss include adding portable classrooms to Cleveland School or moving fifth grade to Kennedy Secondary School. Principal Dean Monke will provide a tour of Kennedy Secondary School following the meeting for anyone interested.

Our school board invited input from an advisory committee to help them make decisions related to student placement for next year (2017-2018) and over the long term. On Nov. 17 and Dec. 1, the Student Placement Committee met for three hours on each day to discuss our school district’s placement of grade levels in each of our buildings.

In the first meeting of community members, teachers, administrators, and school board members, information on our current enrollment and configuration was heard — especially high class sizes at Cleveland. The committee felt the following criteria were the most important when considering student placement: class size, student achievement, keeping grade levels and departments together, long-term planning and fewer transitions (between buildings) for students.

In the big picture, increasing enrollment is very positive for our school district. The committee has made it clear — reducing class size is the most important criteria for any plan.

The committee also indicated they would like to explore other “out of the box” solutions for the long term.

The School Board has difficult, but exciting decisions to make for the short and long term.

The committee has contributed valuable information and ideas for the School Board to consider.

Jerry Ness is the superintendent of Fergus Falls Public Schools. His column appears every Wednesday.


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