Photo by Chad Koenen
The Henning School Library is in the middle of a fundraising campaign to replace some of the aging books on its shelves.

By Chad Koenen


The Henning School Board received an update on an ambitious plan by a pair of Henning School employees to not only update the books on the shelves of the school library, but also enhance the playground/outdoor experiences.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday night, the Henning School Board received a report from Laura Smith about the Pages for a Purpose program at the school. As part of the program, Smith and school librarian Pam Wiese are hoping to replace aging fiction and non-fiction books at the school and community library. 

Currently, 46 percent of the Henning Library resources are non-fiction with an average book publication date of 1990, making the average non-fiction book in the Henning Library 32-years-old. According to the School Library Association, books should not be over 10 years old in the non-fiction section because the information is not considered current.

While the fiction books in the library are newer, many of them are paperbacks and are worn out. The goal of the program will also provide additional books that feature underrepresented people to provide a more equitable representation of ethnicity’s, populations, economic situations and disabilities. 

Since the Henning School Library is the only community library located within a short driving distance of Henning, Smith and Wiese said it was important to continue to enhance the offerings of the library. 

The Pages for a Purpose program began in October with the goal of raising $100,000 for the project. So far the group has sent out 24 grant or donation requests to companies/entities and have heard back from 13 of those organizations. The program has already received $11,100 in commitments for grants/donations.

In addition, US Senator Tina Smith’s office is helping the group access the Library of Congress Surplus books program where they hope to receive a carton of free books each month valued at approximately $700 each time.

Henning School Board Chair Reed Reinbold complimented the work done by Smith and Wiese for not only heading up the program, but also seeking out grants to help fund the program. 

The school board also discussed what the school district should do when the books are eventually taken off the shelves and replaced. Nothing was decided at the meeting, but some of the ideas floated around were to put the books out at conferences so families could take them home for free, or even donate them to an organization that could use additional books.

In addition to the Pages for a Purpose program, the school board heard about a Passion Project headed up by the early childhood teachers. The group is hoping to find funding that will support the purchase of an ADA compliant rubber flooring. By installing the rubber flooring, students with mobility issues could be able to better access the playground equipment. 

So far the Passion Group has sent out grant/donation requests to four entities and have received commitments of $6,000 from two of the entities.

In other news

• Accepted donations from the Ottertail Rod and Gun for the Henning Fishing League, as well as donations from Tri-County Health Care, Water’s Edge Church, Henning Township and BigFoot Gas Grocery and Deli for summer rec/swimming lessons. The school district received a scholarship donation from Lake Region Electric and an anonymous donation for the choir trip donation. The school district has also received a $5,000 mini grant from the Minnesota DNR to purchase life jackets for the fishing team, equipment for the trap team and items to encourage outdoor activity and play for preschool students. 

• Heard that the school district has used up all three of the snow days that were built into the calendar. Future snow days, at the time of the meeting, could require the school district to make up the days on a previously scheduled day off from school or at the end of the year.

• Accepted the following resignations: Shandy Lee as summer food service director, Jason Speer as junior varsity golf coach and Bill Knapp as fitness center worker.

• Approved the hiring of Adam Schwartz as an Otter Tail Central junior high wrestling coach for the 2022-23 season. 

• Approved opening of a new bank account at First National Bank in Henning for the purpose of transferring funds from MSDLAF.

• Approved the 2022-23 safe return to in person learning as presented. 

• Approved the scheduling of a board work session with ICS following the Tuesday, March 21 school board meeting.

• Received the activities report from Randy Misegades which stated that there are 13 students in grades 7-12 in speech this year. There are also 17 students in grades 9-12 in knowledge bowl. 

• Approved calling for a special election in May for a school building referendum. The two part question will seek a $22.7 million building project to address remodeling and upgrading necessary things like the HVAC, as well as a $4.3 million second question to construct a new school gym. 

• Approved the 2023-24 school calendar. In keeping with past practice, school will not start until the day after Labor Day and will end with an early out on the Thursday prior to Memorial Day weekend. The calendar will be similar to years past, which will feature 170 student days and 180 teacher days. Graduation will also be held on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, which was a change from last year.