Referendum update and more on deck for Bemidji school board meeting on Monday

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Sep. 19—BEMIDJI — Following a tumultuous couple of meetings in August, the Board of Education will convene at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 20, to discuss items beyond the recent mask mandate for the district.

On the agenda is a resolution to appoint election judges for the upcoming Nov. 2 district special election, which will determine whether the district will revoke its current authority of $180 per pupil and replace it with an authority of $460 per pupil.

With judges already named for each of the 10 polling precincts, Superintendent Tim Lutz will also provide a referendum update along with a COVID update for the district.

More from Bemidji Area Schools:


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Another item on the agenda is a request from Fordham University in New York to enter into a Masters in Social Work Student Field Experience/Internship Agreement with Bemidji Area Schools. The purpose would be to provide internships and field experiences to students in the masters program.

The agreement for an initial term starting Sept. 9 would terminate Sept. 9, 2022. It would automatically renew on a year-to-year basis thereafter.

Also to be discussed is an allowable fund balance transfer for fiscal year 2020-2021. A requested amount of $270,000 transferred from staff development to the district's general fund is intended to cover the cost of administrative support time dedicated to COVID-19 related activities from this past fiscal year.

Another discussion includes purchasing two buses from one of two companies: Hoglund Bus Co. or North Central Blue Bird. With Hoglund costing $98,138 a bus and North Central costing $87,522 a bus, Transportation Director Rob Wicklund recommends North Central for purchase.

"The cost savings is substantial and North Central's buses are identical to recent purchases," Wicklund wrote in a letter to District Business Director Krisi Fenner.

The district allocated general fund dollars in their preliminary 2021-2022 budget in June to purchase two buses after last fiscal year's bus purchase cycle was foregone due to budget cuts. The total cost after trade-ins would be $184,145, on the low end.

Discussion will also take place regarding additional sections of physical education and art teachers due to the number of students in these classes. District Human Resources Director Jordan Hickman will propose adding a full-time physical education teacher, full-time art teacher and full-time early childhood family education teacher per the administration's recommendation.

The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the district board room. The public can attend in person or watch the meeting on the district's YouTube channel.

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