Weather Forecast


School lunch prices to increase

School lunch prices will cost 10 cents more at schools throughout the Bemidji School District beginning next fall.

The Bemidji School Board voted unanimously Monday to approve the 10-cent increase in lunch prices at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

School breakfast prices will remain the same, as recommended by staff members.

Last summer, the board increased school breakfast and lunch prices for the 2007-08 school year by 15 cents throughout the school district.

Marlene Webb, food service coordinator, noted in a memo that she did not anticipate at this time last year returning to the board to request another increase in meal prices.

However, she said schools across Minnesota are requesting meal price increases due to the overall rising costs of food, related to supply and demand, as well as transportation.

Capital projects set

Also Monday, Chris Leinen, director of business services, updated the board about several construction, repair and other projects planned for the summer in the school district.

He said the major capital projects that the school district plans to complete this summer include the following:

-- Constructing a maintenance facility on the BHS campus.

-- Expanding and rebuilding the bus area and adding parking spaces at Horace May Elementary School.

-- Improving the drain field system at Solway Elementary School.

-- Installing a card access system at Bemidji Middle School.

-- Constructing a garage and reworking the well and irrigation system at J.W. Smith Elementary School.

-- Retubing the boiler at Bemidji Middle School.

-- Improving roofs, parking lots and floor coverings throughout the school district.

Historically, the school district receives about $1 million annually in capital projects funding from state aid and local levy, Leinen said. Of that total, he said about $450,000 is designated to capital projects while about $300,000 is designated to textbook purchases and about $200,000 is allocated to various buildings for equipment.

Talk on media roles

During the public participation time at Monday's meeting, two staff members voiced concerns to the board about a proposal to cut media paraprofessionals at the school district's elementary schools. The proposal is part of the board's goal to reduce the school district's operating budget by about $692,000 for the upcoming fiscal year.

Debra Rossman, media specialist at Horace May Elementary School, said such a cut would be detrimental.

Rossman said she focuses on teaching and collaborating with teachers to improve instruction while the media paraprofessional at Horace May checks books in and out among other tasks in the library .

Without a media paraprofessional, Rossman said her focus will likely shift to tasks including checking books in and out.

Libby Underhill, a second-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School, said she taught her students a "lesson in civics" Monday. She explained to the students that the board is trying to "save money" and one way that has been proposed is cutting the media paraprofessional positions.

Underhill said she showed her students how the library would be available fewer times daily for checking out books if no media paraprofessional was working there.

Underhill's students wrote letters to the board Monday voicing their concerns about the proposed cut. She said the students wanted to do more, so they circulated a petition in classrooms at the school. The petition, which states, "We, the students at Lincoln School, are very against cutting our library para," was signed by 178 students.

The board will discuss budget adjustments at a work session at 6 p.m. today in the District Office Conference Room.

The board will also discuss the upcoming operating levy referendum. The District Office is located at 3300 Gillett Drive N.W.