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Lifelong Learning

Superintendent Remarks



The New Year Brings Opportunities for Moorhead Schools

January 7, 2020

The New Year brings excitement and anticipation for the year ahead. At the beginning of 2020, I find myself more grateful than ever to work with and for this extraordinary team and amazing community. We have a talented team of teachers, support staff and students that are second to none and I am excited to see what we can accomplish with the support of our community this year.

Here are a few of the things in store for us as a Spud team:

  • Strategic Planning. We will begin a six-month strategic planning process in January with the help of the Minnesota School Boards Association. We need to hear your voice and will be reaching out to the community to help set district direction and goals. A community-wide survey will be available from January 6 to February 7 and focus groups will be conducted at the beginning of February. Community members can access the survey and application for focus group at
  • Facilities Projects.
    • Planning is underway for the career academy and high school facilities that seventy-six percent of our community voted to approve in November. We are seeking teacher input to drive the final project design. The career academy will open in the fall of 2021 while the high school project will be completed by the fall of 2024.
    • Our district office team, food services and facility services will move to the operations center on 30th Avenue this spring. Our buses started using the building last month. This building will create operational efficiencies and will play a large role in freeing up educational space at Probstfield Center for Education (PCE).
  • Probstfield Plan. As our district continues to grow, we are redefining the mission of PCE to address future elementary capacity. We are currently studying how to best utilize this space for maximum educational impact.
  • The Future. Planning is already underway for the 2020-2021 school year including staffing, scheduling and appropriate resource allocation to continue to serve our students even better in the year to come.

We are excited to continue the valuable work of ensuring that students entrusted to our care are thriving and reaching their maximum potential. We are truly honored to have the opportunity to impact kids in 2020 and beyond.

– Brandon Lunak, Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

Categorized under: School

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The Power of Community Support

November 13, 2019

Grateful. That has been my overwhelming emotion since the special election held on November 5 to build a replacement high school and career academy. Robert A. Emmons, from University of California, Davis, one of the world’s leading scientific experts on gratitude, writes that there are two parts to gratitude. The first is that we recognize there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we have received. The second part is recognizing the sources of the goodness that we are experiencing.

When I think about the bond referendum and what it means for our students, I am grateful on behalf of those students that the voters supported the proposed projects. Our grades 9-12 learners will have the space to learn. They will benefit from state of the art educational facilities that are completely accessible, designed for 21st century learning and fashioned to encourage specific career exploration in a hands-on, minds-on way.

The “source” to whom we must express deep appreciation, is the Moorhead community: members who served on the task forces since 2015, members who worked to get out the facts on this bond and members who took time to vote. I am incredibly grateful to be a part of this community and to lead this school system. The Moorhead Area community’s yes vote gave permission to build a better tomorrow for our children and showed the region it knows how to invest in community building.

Continuing in our outstanding tradition of providing a premier education, our job now is to reimagine our future and go build some schools for the Spuds of today and tomorrow.

– Brandon Lunak, Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools
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Superintendent’s Remarks: Thankful for accomplishments as we move forward together

November 19, 2018

Last year was a transition year for Moorhead Area Public Schools with new schools and changes for many staff and students.
We saw successes like the expansion of the 1-to-1 technology initiative to grades 5-8 and innovation emphasized at the Horizon Middle School Campus. 
Our district’s graduation rate increased from 74% (2016) to 80.6% (2017). The Moorhead High School graduation rate increased from 81% in 2016 to 88.3% in 2017, exceeding the state average of 82.7%. 
In March 2018, the Moorhead School Board accepted the Designing Moorhead High School’s 21st Century Academic/Instructional Program Task Force Report. Implementation of the 18-month action plan is underway, including formation in August 2018 of High School Facilities Task Force to research and recommend a plan for high school facilities moving forward.  
Over the summer, the projects in the 2015 bond referendum were completed with security renovations at Moorhead High School.  
As we move forward together through the 2018-19 school year, we are thankful for all that was accomplished last year, and we are thankful for the successes our district has already experienced this school year.  
We are proud of students like Zachary Van Raden who earned a perfect score on the ACT and the members of the boys cross country team, girls soccer team, girls swimming and diving team, and volleyball team for successes they have had this fall.
We are thankful for students who participate in penny wars, lead food drives at all our schools to collect food for Fill the Dome, and push themselves to learn and grow.  
We are grateful for our staff members who do their best for students every day, for the parents who partner with us on their students’ education, and for all our community members for their support.  
While we’re thankful for these and many other accomplishments across the district, our district’s guiding philosophy is continuous improvement. That means we must continue moving forward together and remember that we can if we will.  
Brandon Lunak, Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools 
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Moving Forward Together: Moorhead Schools aims for students to feel accepted

September 4, 2018

As the 2018-19 school year begins, Moorhead Area Public Schools continues moving forward to ensure all of our students achieve their maximum potential. We want to welcome our students back to school to classrooms where they feel they are accepted and belong.

As our district experiences the changes that come with new schools, enrollment growth, and transition in leadership, our collaborative culture in working together will help us focus on our students and the future of our district. It is an honor to lead this school district.

When I spoke to district employees last week, I credited several of my former teachers for making a difference for me as a student. Their efforts in making me feel accepted made that difference. As we move forward together, our aim is to make our students feel like they belong and are accepted.

This year’s district theme, “Moving Forward Together,” encourages us to understand the value of change and the positive outcomes change can bring.

It is important to work together to move forward with our efforts to eliminate the opportunity gap for students, ensure students are career and college ready, and create a strong workforce for the state and region. We also are focused on providing our students with the 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity they will need for their futures.

With the safety and security renovations at Moorhead High School this summer, the final project from the passage of the 2015 bond referendum will be completed. A High School Facilities Task Force will address facility needs for grades 9-12 as our district moves forward.

It is through the efforts of our employees, students, parents and community working together that will ensure our district’s continued excellence. Your support is essential to our work. Thank you for moving forward together with Moorhead Area Public Schools.

Brandon Lunak, Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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Superintendent’s Message: Task force to discuss high school facility needs

August 2, 2018

The announcement of the Moorhead Area Public Schools High School Facilities Task Force last month was met with questions about whether Moorhead was considering two high schools. Although two high schools may be in Moorhead’s future, facilities planning since 2001 remains focused on one high school and an area learning center for our grades 9-12 students.

In 2001, in response to declining enrollment, a facilities task force made recommendations to the Moorhead School Board to enhance educational effectiveness, create economic efficiency and modernize the infrastructure of Moorhead Area Public Schools. Those efforts led to enrollment growth and the need in 2014 for a 10-year facilities master plan to address instructional and safety needs at the schools, including additional space.

The 2014-15 facilities master planning process reaffirmed the district’s commitment to maintaining efficiencies in operations. Similar to 2001, the plan recommended elementary schools for 750 students and proposed a grades 5-6 school addition on the Horizon Middle School campus similar in size to the original 1,300-student middle school.

At Moorhead High School, a ninth-grade center addition was recommended by the 2001 task force to help students transition into the 1,800-student high school. The 2014-15 task force developed a two-phase Facilities Master Plan. The second phase of the plan focuses on space for grades 9-12 students, allowing for consideration of a new facility or a new addition to the existing facility.

The High School Facilities Task Force being formed for the 2018-19 school year will review recommendations related to high school facilities from both the 2014-15 facilities master planning process and the Designing Moorhead High School’s 21st Century Academic/Instructional Program Task Force, which provided recommendations in March 2018.

Task force members will learn that it’s more than just deciding about one high school or two high schools. Many factors must be considered, including the collaborative process in 2014-15 that led to a recommendation for a single high school, operating costs for a high school, projections for enrollment, and consideration for city infrastructure. As part of its responsibilities, the facilities task force will be asked to make a recommendation related to when Moorhead Area Public Schools must consider a second high school.

Applications from community members interested in serving on this task force may be submitted through Aug. 3 at , or contact the Superintendent’s Office at 218-284-3330 for a paper copy of the application.

As we move forward together, I hope our collaborative community process will help identify how our current 50-year-old high school facility should be addressed to meet the instructional and educational needs of today and into the future.

Brandon Lunak, Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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Superintendent Remarks: District works to educate all students in supportive schools

February 10, 2017

Public education is at the heart of our communities. Our students, teachers and community members have been reflecting on the value of an education from Moorhead Area Public Schools. Over the last few weeks, community members have discussed the skills, attributes and knowledge we want for graduates of Moorhead High School. As I listen, I hear our community members talk about students who are caring, collaborative and critical thinkers. We want those skills for all students.

As we continue to collect data from our focus groups, we will be able to define the educational program for Moorhead Schools. Our students have talked about great teachers and opportunities currently at Moorhead High School. Our community members have identified strengths like school pride, diversity of students, and caring, supportive staff. They also reflected on our positive community atmosphere and acceptance of others. More input will be gathered through a survey for parents and community members next month. Please look for an announcement and website information in March.

Our engagement process reminds us that our schools are a reflection of our society. This community includes people of all nationalities, all races and all religions. We welcome all learners who come through our doors. Our calling is to educate each and every student to fulfill our mission of developing the maximum potential of every learner to thrive in a changing world.

We prioritize a safe, welcoming and respectful community. We will continue to emphasize community building in our schools and support for students and their families. We will help all students achieve so they become productive and successful citizens.

We will continue to strive for a safe learning environment that is free of bullying, harassment and bias in all forms. Policies are in place to protect staff and students. We expect all staff and students to follow these policies. Our schools and community must continue to work together to ensure this safe environment.

The strength in our school district comes from our diversity. We welcome and share ideas in thoughtful and respectful dialogue. All are welcome and celebrated every day. Again we need to remember that we are all part of this community and all should feel safe and respected. We have a strong school district — one that honors all students.

Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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Superintendent Remarks: With Thanks

November 22, 2016

We have so much to be thankful for in Moorhead Area Public Schools.

As I write this column, it is important that we thank our community for its support of our schools. We have strong, growing schools, which creates a strong community. We have school buildings where students are supported and taught about reading and writing, mathematics, social studies, science, arts, world language, physical education and wellness, and more. We are thankful we are able to provide these opportunities for all our students.

Our schools are taking shape and will open the fall of 2017. We will be able to welcome students to safe and secure schools. We will have enough room for all students and places where they can eat, play, learn and be active. We are so thankful for our community support. Through the hard work of all our teachers, administrators and staff, we have worked together to make our schools the best places for our students. We are thankful for the creativity, innovation and critical thinking of our staff as we designed new and remodeled learning spaces for all learners.

We are thankful for all our staff members who work hard every day to make sure our students have their needs met. We have staff members who go beyond their work time to support students. We are thankful for staff who continually work to improve their teaching to reach every students.

We are thankful for the staff who work hard every day to make sure our students get to school and are fed. We are thankful for staff who makes sure our students have their health needs met and clean and supportive environments in which to learn.

We are thankful for parents and community members who volunteer their time to serve on task forces and other committees to help provide direction and input into our school district. We are thankful we have community members and families who volunteer to read with students and help our teachers. We are thankful for our PTAC members who work hard to support our students and staff.

We are thankful for our community. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with our higher education institutions, our community leaders and our business leaders. They also help guide our work to develop the maximum potential of every learner to thrive in a changing world.

It does take our community together to educate our students.

We have so much to be thankful for in this district.

Dr. Lynne Kovash, Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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Constructing Dreams: Moorhead Schools welcomes students for new year

September 1, 2016

This is an exciting time for Moorhead Area Public Schools. It’s time to welcome our students back to school, and I hope you are as excited for this year as I am. Last year, we worked together with our community to provide new facilities and learning spaces for our growing school population. We had planning and design discussions with parents, staff and students. Our goal is to have all our buildings ready for our future students and their learning. We’re ready as teachers, administrators and support staff to build on this success in the 2016-17 school year.

Our district is in a good period of growth. Our estimates show about a 1.5% to 2% growth in student population. Our staff members are working hard to make sure all students have the best learning environments and prepare for the transition to new and remodeled buildings. We are dedicated to making sure all students have their best year and are prepared for the next step in their educational program.

Next year we will open two new buildings. Dorothy Dodds Elementary School will be home to kindergarten through grade 4 students. Horizon Middle School West will be a wonderful place for students in grades 5-6 to learn and thrive. I know we have a lot of work to do. Our work will take patience, creativity, discussions and thoughtfulness, but together we will be ready to open the schools for all our students next fall.

We have developed community partnerships to provide mental health support services for students. These partnerships are vital for our students and our school community. All of our elementary schools and Horizon Middle School are part of a framework for responsible school citizenship called Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports or PBIS. This framework provides instruction for responsible behavior in our school environments and celebrates the positive behaviors in school. We are committed to providing safe and caring environments for all students. We also want to model the kind of caring and respectful society we want for all our students.

We have worked this summer to update the offices in the three elementary schools to provide a secure entrance with a new visitor management system for visitors to check in and out of the school. We will have more information in the next few weeks regarding these updates and new system. We are fortunate to have dedicated and hardworking individuals who provide the guidance and grit to get these projects completed for our students.

We all have to work together, but we truly believe the mission of Moorhead Area Public Schools is to develop the maximum potential of every student to thrive in a changing world. I hope families have an opportunity to visit our schools and see the great work our teachers and staff members have done to prepare for the 2016-17 school year. We are ready to have a great year as we are constructing dreams.

Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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Superintendent Remarks: Year of achievement leads to summer of planning

June 1, 2016

The 2015-16 school year is coming to a close. This week we are celebrating the end of the school year with our graduates and staff members who are retiring or moving on to a new place in their lives. There is a feeling of sadness, yet an acknowledgement and celebration of all the accomplishments.

What a year this has been. We began our year with listening, planning and discussing the need for more space for the ever-increasing enrollment in the school year. We looked to the past for planning from community groups and from our rich school district history. With elementary classes in the 500-student range and the kindergarten class with 575 students, we knew we had to plan for the future. That future dream was realized on November 3, with the successful passage of the referendum. We spent the rest of the year planning and discussing our future schools, breaking ground on April 18 for the new grades 5-6 building and May 4 for the new K-4 school.

In the business of education, summer is a time of reflection on achievements during the past year and planning for the future with an eye on continuous improvement. We have many achievements to celebrate from a record 19 students qualifying for the national speech tournament to academic and athletic achievement honors. We celebrate with and for our staff and students. We continue to reflect on the systems that are needed for all students to achieve.

As we begin the summer break we are often asked, “I suppose you are looking forward to your summer break?” People are often surprised to learn administrators work over the summer. Summer work is different, as administrative teams work diligently to prepare for the next year, always mindful of how the coming year fits into the long-range plan for the district. This year we will not only be involved with the plans for learning and for our programming, but we also will be involved in the construction oversight of the new schools and remodeled entries to our schools. We are looking forward to this fall and to the fall of 2017.

Our planning includes addressing and being accountable for our strategic priorities. This includes high academic achievement for all students, a safe and healthy environment, a system of professional supervision for employees, and organizational and fiscal effectiveness. Our school board and administrators will wrestle with the many issues over the next few weeks and plan to continuously improve and maintain our system. While it’s a great time for Moorhead Schools, funding for the operation of our school district will be critical as we open new schools and plan for additional students. 

Summer learning loss is also a challenge for our students. I would like to challenge all students to take part in the summer opportunities offered throughout our community and on the Minnesota Department of Education website at . Please fill out the summer reading pledge. I also would like to recognize every student who meets the reading challenge. We will have you submit the information to your school office in the fall. I encourage parents to set aside at least 20 minutes per day for reading. I remember the wonderful days of summer when I would sit in the shade on a blanket and read books. I hope all students will find that love of reading.

I hope you have a wonderful summer, and I can’t wait to see you all in the fall.

Dr. Lynne A. Kovash, Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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Experiencing growth and excellence as we honor the past and shape the future

September 3, 2015

This is an exciting time in the history of Moorhead Area Public Schools. Our theme this year, “Honoring the Past and Shaping the Future,” depicts the excitement in our district.

Our enrollment reached a high of 7,000 students in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and we are on track to reach that target again soon. The future is bright for our community and schools. The last time the district saw a student enrollment of more than 6,000 students was in the mid 1990s. As with all school districts, our district has periods of growth and periods of decline. The late 1990s to the 2000s was a period of decline. At that time we experienced 11 years of enrollment decline before enrollment stabilized and began to grow. The growth in the schools began after closing smaller elementary schools and reorganizing to three elementary schools and one middle school to be more efficient. Closing small, inefficient schools saved the district money in operations, maintenance and utilities. The current schools opened 11 years ago in 2004. In the past 10 years the district has seen enrollment grow by more than 638 students, with more growth in the elementary grades.

As I write this, our elementary schools are all over capacity, and our middle school is at capacity. We are enrolling new students daily. We have not seen this type of enrollment growth in more than 20 years. We are excited to share our great schools and community with our new residents as well as those who have been with us for some time.

We have a strong tradition of excellence in our district. The stories of our student success are evident in our community, our region, our state, our nation and our world. Our graduates would not be successful if it were not for the support of the staff and teachers in our schools, our parents and our community.

It’s time to welcome our students back to school, and I hope you are as excited for this year as I am. As a district, we made great strides last year in preparing our students with 21st century skills. Our students are continuing to be challenged to meet their learning needs through the skills of collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity. We have hired a strong group of 67 new teachers and have continued to look for ways to support and celebrate the accomplishments of our students and staff.

While we honor many of our past traditions, we are looking to enhance our present traditions. Concerts, theater productions, athletic events, and many other activities in our school are exciting, and we invite community members to attend and see the excellence in our young people. We want you to be a part of our school community.

This year as a way of celebrating our schools, we are asking families to use social media on Tuesday, September 8 to spread the word about being proud members of the Moorhead Area Public Schools community. As part of this effort, take a picture of your student or students or groups of students returning to school. Tag #firstdaymoorheadschools or post to our school district Twitter (@MoorheadSchools) or Facebook site (/moorheadschools).

We must continue to work together to fulfill the mission of Moorhead Area Public Schools to develop the maximum potential of every student to thrive in a changing world. I hope you will visit our schools or find us online and see the great work our teachers and staff members have done to prepare for the 2015-16 school year. We are ready to honor the past and shape the future!

Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Moorhead Area Public Schools 

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Superintendent Remarks: School district and community facing opportunities for the future

May 28, 2015

The school year has flown by. Just a short time ago, it seemed we were beginning to think about spring and spring activities. I know at times during this spring we all wondered whether the sun would shine.

As we reach the end of the school year, we find the school district faced with great opportunities for the future. Our elementary schools are over capacity, but at all schools our staff has worked hard to make sure our schools are safe and secure and students feel a part of the school community. As parents we welcome your involvement and ways that we can work together to assure your students have every opportunity possible.

As students leave for the summer, staff will be working together to plan for the future. Teachers spend time in training and exploring ways to reach more students and to engage them in their school work. Administrators will be in training, learning about more ways to focus on safe and respectful schools as well as standards for behavior and academics. Administrators also will be refining skills in the area of evaluation and observations in the classroom to support staff as they continue to learn and grow.

Administrators and teachers will be working together to look at information about academics, including test data and other indications of academic achievement, and to discover new ways to reach each student. We are going to explore the opportunity gap that our students may encounter as they progress through school. Our priority has been for all students to be prepared to be able to be successful in any of the opportunities they may find as they leave our schools. Many of our students have been successful as they leave our schools and go on to the next level, however, we know the world is changing, and we are changing to make sure our students are successful in the future.

As we look back and honor our past, we remember the hard work of people before us who answered the need for more schools and strong educational programs for all students. We need to make sure we are ready to respond to the needs of our students today. We will ask for your support as we respond to our increased student enrollment with plans of building schools so every student has an adequate space to learn.

We hope you will learn more about the needs of our district this summer and fall as we provide information about the facility needs. The growth in our school district is expected to continue over the next 10 years, and we need to be ready to provide good facilities for elementary and middle school students.

We honor the work that has been done in the past, and we look forward to shaping the future of our district together. We look forward to the opportunity to work together with our community to make Moorhead Area Public Schools the best!

Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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