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Long-range facilities planning committee shares recommendations with Bemidji School Board

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A committee that explored the future of the Bemidji School District's facilities has made its recommendations.

On Monday afternoon, the Bemidji School Board heard recommendations for short-term and long-term goals from the district's Long Range Facilities Planning Committee.

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"The board takes these recommendations under advisement," Superintendent Jim Hess said in an interview this week.

Hess reviewed the committee's recommendations with the board Monday afternoon.

In the short term, the committee recommends possibly combining Central and J.W. Smith elementary schools into one attendance area, and looking at areas of attendance and sending students who attend schools outside their attendance area back to their neighborhood schools.

Another short-term goal at the elementary level is to consider adding onto existing elementary schools using stimulus dollars.

Meanwhile, the committee recommends a short-term goal of adding more safety measures at Bemidji Middle School.

Another short-term goal is to consider consolidation of the district's alternative programs and services at one location. Considering consolidation of alternative programs also is listed by the committee as a long-term goal.

The committee also recommends a short-term goal of possibly moving district offices to Bemidji High School.

Also in the short term, the committee recommends considering roles for Deer Lake Elementary School, which is currently used for storage; Bemidji Community Arena; and Carrington Field, a city baseball field that the city of Bemidji plans to relocate from Bemidji City Park.

In the long-term, the committee recommends keeping neighborhood elementary schools small and considering building a new elementary school with three sections for each grade in a heavily populated residential area.

The committee also recommends a long-term goal of possibly splitting BMS into two 600-student schools.

For BHS, the committee recommends a long-term goal of developing more flexible hours for students.

Other long-term goals include developing Early Learning Centers for children ages 3-5 and Kindergarten At-Risk, and possibly relocating Early Childhood Family Education and Early Childhood Special Education from Beltrami County's Community Service Center to the Paul Bunyan Center.

Also in the long-term, the committee recommends working with the city to plan another baseball field and that district offices could be anywhere centrally located.

mbedard@bemidjipioneer.com

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