Joe Bowen covers education and health for the Bemidji Pioneer.
He is a Minneapolis native and a 2009 graduate of St. John's University. Before moving to Bemidji, Bowen covered education, local politics, crime, and everything in between for the Perham Focus in Perham, Minnesota, and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis.
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BEMIDJI—After more than three decades in the U.S. Air Force, Mark Stodola has a new job lined up. The 56-year-old is set to work part time at a Bemidji car dealership after he formally earns his two-year automotive technologies diploma from Northwest Technical College on Friday. Stodola retired from the Air Force in 2014, then spent a year traveling the West Coast with his wife, then dabbled in construction safety and welding at the technical college before he settled on automotive work. Why go back to school?
BEMIDJI—Bemidji High Schoolers received a crash course in driving safety ahead of Saturday's prom. Minnesota State Trooper Scott Mattfield told a few hundred students in the school's auditorium Wednesday that teen drivers are overrepresented in traffic crashes, and that having a teenaged driver and passenger in a car increases the risk of a fatal crash by 44 percent. Nationally, crashes involving teen drivers and alcohol increase between April and June.
LAPORTE—Laporte Public School's music program is officially back in place, and district leaders and the public at large are set to brainstorm ways to change it next year and beyond. School board members there voted unanimously on Tuesday to rescind their earlier decision to eliminate the district's music program and put Louise Bass, its longtime—and only—music teacher on unrequested leave.
BEMIDJI—Ten Minnesota school districts and charter schools have reached agreements with the state to even out student expulsions and suspensions. Among them is Cass-Lake Bena, where American Indians made up 84 percent of the student body but 89 percent of all suspensions and expulsions last year. Bemidji Area Schools and Red Lake School district are poised to do the same in the coming weeks amid a sweeping effort by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to reduce disparities in suspensions and expulsions for students of color and students with disabilities.
BEMIDJI -- More than 1,200 students are set to graduate from Bemidji-area colleges and universities this spring. At Red Lake Nation College, that means seven graduates will formally accept their two-year associate’s degrees at a lakeside ceremony May 10. Five of those students earned 4.0 GPAs and will each give a short valedictorian speech. “We think it’s one of the most beautiful settings of any graduation,” said Dan King, the college’s president.
LAPORTE—Laporte Public School may keep it's one-woman music program after all. The School Board is scheduled to meet Tuesday, May 1, to consider rescinding an earlier vote that eliminated the district's music program and put Louise Bass, it's lone music teacher, on an unrequested leave of absence. Board members quietly voted in early April to cut Bass and the program, citing a lack of interest among Laporte high schoolers. The move set off a wave of parent and community pushback in the 320-student district.
BEMIDJI -- Bemidji Area Schools is set to spend $967,000 more on personnel next school year -- the first that Gene Dillon Elementary will be in operation. School Board members approved last week a slate of programming and staff changes for the 2018-19 school year. That means the district is set to eliminate the equivalent of 1.8 full-time jobs and add the equivalent of 11.4 full-time jobs.
RED LAKE—Red Lake School District holds quarterly meetings for parents and the public at large to visit with the superintendent here. "Naboob with the Supe"—originally "Soup with the Supe" before district leaders swapped in the Ojibwemowin word—is a regular chance for Superintendent Melinda Crowley to talk with parents and others about district programming or plans.
BEMIDJI—Bemidji Community Arena Corp. leaders may have the momentum—and funding—they need to add a new sheet of ice at their rink near Bemidji High School. Corporation board members said they hope to build a long hoped-for $5 million second sheet of ice at the Bemidji Community Arena with a $2 million pledge from an as-yet-unnamed donor, plus a loan and donations they hope to solicit from the community at large.
BEMIDJI—Tim Lutz is in line to be Bemidji Area Schools' next superintendent. The School Board voted Thursday to enter into contract negotiations with the longtime Kelliher Public School head, capping an increasingly busy search that narrowed the list of candidates from 24 to six to three—then just to him. "We'll look forward to our time ahead with you," Board Chair Carol J. Johnson told Lutz after telling him of the board's decision.