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BEMIDJI AREA SCHOOLS: District to contract out GED administration

BEMIDJI -- Citing declining enrollments in its Adult Basic Education/GED program, the Bemidji School Board voted Monday to contract with the Northwest Service Cooperative to administer the program.

The two staff members who work part-time on ABE/GED will be reassigned in the district for positions they are licensed to hold, said Jim Hess, Bemidji Area Schools superintendent.

"We've just been losing ground each year for the last few years," he said, noting that the GED test was changed in recent years to one that is both more difficult and more expensive.

The "downward trend" resulted in about 4,000 hours of interest in the program this year, down from about 5,000 the year before, 6,000 the year before that and 7,000 before that, Hess said.

"We have to make a change to keep the program viable," he said.

Hess said the contract with the Northwest Service Cooperative, headquartered in Thief River Falls, would be for one year.

"I think we've got to give it a try," said Hess, who stated too that the district has made a "strong request" to Northwest Technical College that the program be located there.