School board approves transport contract and hears plans to request renewal of referendum – Albert Lea Tribune

The Albert Lea area school board voted Monday night to approve a number of resolutions taking effect in the 2021-22 school year, including a transportation contract that incorporated a one-tier system while bringing slight changes to start and end times.

In a survey sent out by the district, families, students and staff were asked a number of questions regarding their preferences for the bus system. According to District Superintendent Mike Funk, those polls came back saying that a majority of respondents preferred the system on one level as opposed to two levels, and a majority wanted a later start time for the school day.

Funk said the new contract tries to offer the best of both worlds.

Although times may still change slightly, the current system looks like this:

Elementary: 8:10 a.m. / 8:20 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

Collège Sud-Ouest: 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

High school: 8:30 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. / 3:10 p.m.

Start times are part of the entire transport contract. Individual departure times are negotiated by the bus company and administration as part of the contract.

Board member Angie Hoffman brought up the idea of ​​looking at tee times individually. Vice-chairman of the board, Kim Nelson, said she was concerned the board might overstep its limits when trying to change start times.

“I think we as a board have to be careful not to make operational decisions on nickel and obscure operational decisions,” Nelson said. “… To tie the hands of the administration on what this should look like, we are not doing it in other areas. The administration told us that they are going to work within these parameters of what one level can do… I think we want to be careful not to get into the management style. We are a governance council.

Another part of the negotiations included a more organized hub system at Southwest Middle School, allowing students to change buses without as much hassle.

The transport contract went 7-0.

The council also learned that the district will receive approximately $ 7 million in federal COVID relief funds to be used by the 2025 school year.

Funk said the district plans to use the funds in different ways, including technology recovery and future investments, keeping the district funds in balance, adding specialist positions focused on assisting social and emotional needs of students, helping them recover from the pandemic, hiring teachers for the new science curriculum at the elementary level, providing administrative support to the e-learning academy and expanding the pool of substitute teachers permanent four to six.

By using part of the funds for technology recovery and future investments, the district will no longer ask voters for an increase in the operating referendum during the 2021 election season.

In 2020, the option to increase the existing referendum from $ 573.74 per student to $ 714.67 was rejected in the November 3 election, with 63% of voters refusing the proposed changes. Now voters will likely be asked to renew the existing referendum only in the November elections.

“I really like the idea of ​​the technology,” said Dennis Dieser, board member. “I think the community will be very receptive to this help, especially with everything that is going on right now.”

In another action, the advice:

  • Voted 7-0 to approve the final 2020-21 budget.
  • Voted 7-0 to approve the 2021-22 preliminary budget.
  • Voted 7-0 to stay with the Minnesota Insurance Scholastic Trust after exploring other options.

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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