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Mothers seek bus route changes

Blackduck School Board Chairman Dale Compton had barely opened the Monday night meeting when two mothers, neighbors living near Turtle River, asked for a chance to question bus routes that make their children spend as much as 10½ hours daily either in school or riding the bus.

Deanna Hand compared it to someone working an eight hour day, adding a half-hour lunch break and perhaps 30 minutes getting to and from the job -- nine hours in all.

"Our kids get on the bus before 7 a.m., ride all around the route winding up in Blackduck for a full day in school. Then they come home, only now they're the last ones dropped off and it's usually at least a 10 hour day for them and they still have homework to do and baths to take and be in bed by 8 p.m. so they can get up the next morning."

Her comments were echoed by Christy Cook, whose daughter will go from kindergarten into first grade this fall.

Their request was to have the bus make its regular run in the morning but reverse the route at night. Sympathetic board members encouraged Superintendent Bob Doetsch who promised to take up the issue yet this week with the school's transportation director.

Cook's remarks were punctuated later with a loud yawn from her three-year old son, who had dozed off during the discussion.

Compton then moved the board quickly through two dozen items including naming The American the official newspaper, deferring a decision on which bank to name as official depository, giving final approval to agreements with faculty and staff on changes previously agreed to in the health insurance program and leaving board members per diem and mileage unchanged from the present rates.

Amendments to the high school handbook were approved referring to the wearing of hats, sunglasses and with skirts at a minimum three inches above the knee. Several administrative job descriptions were revised and a number of changes made in the activities handbook for students.

The alcohol and drug provisions were extended to a 12-month period. Penalties for most activities are those prescribed by the Minnesota State High School League and for other activities the penalty provisions were given a favorable vote after lengthy debate.

Doetsch reviewed test scores and answered questions about declines in the seventh and eighth grades, with special attention on math. "We're looking at next year to be better," he told the board, "and we will be pulling it together."

One problem has been the lower average because of the high percentage of special education-special needs students enrolled in the Blackduck system. "At 23 percent, we have the second highest special ed numbers in this area." He referred to the numbers at the state level, a growing number, he said and "we're growing about one percent a year right here."

At a meeting earlier in the year, the board had over-ruled the objection of Blackduck High School Principal Wendy Templin, allowing a senior just short of the required graduation credits, to complete course work at Bemidji and walk with the senior class at commencement exercises. She asked for a policy change to make permanent the barring from the graduation ceremony of any senior who had not achieved the required number of credits.

She asked that the entire matter be reviewed again, in a closed session from which the press and public were excluded. Compton granted her request and closed the meeting.