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School district feels damage from storm

BEMIDJI - Bemidji Area Schools felt the damage of the storm that barreled through the area July 2.

At the Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education's regular meeting Monday night, Chris Leinen, director of business services, discussed the district's cleanup plan for the Guthrie School Forest.

"It is almost unusable from the standpoint of bringing students out there," Leinen said. "The recommendation we've received was to make a fairly significant harvest of the jack pine to leave as many of the healthy red pines as possible."

Leinen also met with teachers who use the forest as an outdoor classroom to discuss other options for the forest. He said the other options include a broadcast seeding effort, speeding up the seeding process, leaving some bare areas so students could plant seedlings and keeping a couple stands of trees to show students what the life cycle of a forest is.

"The forester said all of those suggestions are very doable," Leinen said. "The next step in this process is to have the teachers go out and identify which stands we would want to keep and then move forward with a harvest."

Superintendent James Hess said the district brought the information to board members so they would be aware of the major change that will take place at the forest.

Preschool Expands

The preschool program offered through Bemidji Community Education will double in size for the 2012-13 school year.

Sandy Everhart, community education director, told the board that the Jack and Jill Preschool will serve 80 students in the coming year, with two classrooms of 20 students in both Monday-Wednesday-Friday and Tuesday-Thursday sessions. One classroom will run from 8:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., while the other will go from 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Everhart said this is a change from the 2011-12 school year, which was the first year of the academic preschool. Last year, the preschool served 40 students - 20 in the morning and 20 in the afternoon. Students attended preschool four days a week.

The program will also offer an extended-day program, starting at 7:30 a.m. and continuing until 5:15 p.m.

"This is for parents who need to go to work earlier or can't leave their job to pick up their children," Everhart said.

The preschool, which is housed at Pine Hall on Bemidji State University's campus, already has a waiting list for the upcoming school year.

Superintendent offered contract

After reviewing an evaluation done by the board, the school board extended a contract for 2013-2016 to Hess.

The contract would pay Hess $150,000 per year for the next three-year period, among other benefits. Board member Bill Faver said Hess's pay places him in the middle of the pack for superintendent pay. Hess's new contract increases his pay $3,000 from the 2012-13 school year.