When the school buses lumber down Brainerd area roads starting Sept. 2, buses will remain full but with fewer students allowed a lift to school.
The district had 67 regular bus routes last year but will now have 62, a cost savings of about $30,000 per bus route. This was part of the $5.5 million in budget reductions for the upcoming school year.
Willy Severson, director of schools, told the Brainerd School Board Monday that 723 students - mostly elementary students - won't be eligible for busing as they were last year because they live within the one-mile walking limit to their schools - a new district policy. They'll have to either walk or their parents will need to drive them to school.
Kala Henkensiefken, director of transportation, said buses were full last year and will continue to be this year despite fewer students riding the buses. She said there also will be fewer buses shuttling students to and from the various schools within Brainerd and Baxter before and after school.
The district will only allow one pick-up and one drop-off site per child this year and the child may only be bused to a location within his or her attendance area. Severson said last year there were 1,200 students registered for multiple drop off sites. While the district has received 15-20 calls from parents requesting multiple drop-off and pick-up sites since busing information was sent out last week, Severson said these requests can't be accommodated unless new busing routes are added.
However, Brainerd Community Education director Todd Lyscio told the board that Youth Connection, a community education program, is now offering a before-school care and an enrichment program between 6:15 to 7:30 a.m. Monday through Friday when school is in session. It will allow parents to drop their students off at Washington Educational Services Building during that time and they will be picked up by bus around 7:30 a.m. and dropped off at their schools. This program serves students who attend Baxter, Forestview, Riverside, Garfield, Lowell and Harrison.
Cost is $15 per week per student with a $15 yearly membership fee of $15 per student. Since this is a program operated through Brainerd Community Education, the fees help pay for busing students.
If parents choose this program this location is the only site where their student may be picked up at in the morning.
For registration information, parents may call Youth Connection at 454-6950.
In school board action, the board approved the new transportation policies including the new Type III driver requirements. Board member Lew Hudson opposed the new driver requirements, which will cost the district about $20,000 to $30,000 a year to license, train and drug test teachers and coaches who drive students in district vans or other district-owned vehicles to school activities or sporting events. Hudson said the new law, in effect Sept. 1, is another unfunded mandate by the state Legislature and he opposed the policy not on its own merit but because the district already has to pay about $3 million a year in unfunded state and federal mandates.
The board approved an affiliation agreement for student teachers with Bemidji State University.
The board approved the transfer of $18,234.44 in preschool screening funds from one account to another.
The board approved a post secondary enrollment option agreement with Central Lakes College for the 2008-09 school year.
The board set the date for the annual truth-in-taxation hearing for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2 in the board room and a continuation hearing, if necessary, on Dec. 9. The board will certify the proposed levy for Payable 2008 on Sept. 8. The final adoption of the proposed levy will take place at the Dec. 8 board meeting, said Steve Dickinson, director of business services.
Pam Dyson, director of media technology, informed the board of a recent donation made by area businesses. Dyson said St. Joseph's Medical Center and Brainerd Medical Center donated to the district 120 flat-screen computer monitors that were less than a year old that they could no longer use because of a new program they are using that required larger monitors. The monitors were worth about $7,500, said Dyson. Then CTC offered to install the monitors at no cost and Best Buy in Baxter offered to donate the disposal fees to get rid of about 100 large CRT monitors the district no longer needed. This was all at an estimated donation of about $10,000, she said. Dyson said the district also will save about $1,000 a year in energy costs by using the new energy-saving monitors.
Superintendent Steve Razidlo thanks those businesses and employees for their donations.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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