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Bemidji school board to discuss retention, vaccination stipends for employees

The Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education will meet in regular session at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 16, in the district office board room.

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BEMIDJI — The Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education will meet in regular session at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 16, in the district office board room.

The board will discuss using a portion of the district’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, funding — specifically the third round of funding through the American Recovery Plan — to pay for retention and vaccination stipends to retain current staff and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on workforce availability,” Superintendent Tim Lutz wrote in a letter to the board. “Retaining employees and reducing turnover is imperative for the district’s ability to continue offering an effective learning environment for students.”

The district was allotted $11.6 million in its third round of ESSER funding in March 2021 to address learning loss due to the pandemic.

Required to be spent by 2024, the district must use 20% of this funding for learning recovery programs with the remaining 80% to address other needs relating to health, curriculum and instructional changes and general student needs.

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The board will also establish combined polling places for multiple precincts and designate hours during which the polling places will remain open for voting for school district elections not held on the day of a statewide election.

New legislation adopted in 2017 requires school districts to establish combined polling places each year by Dec. 31 and will become the designated polling places for the following calendar year unless a change is made in case of an emergency or a polling place becomes unavailable.

The public can attend the meeting in person or watch on the Bemidji Area Schools YouTube channel.

Daltyn Lofstrom is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on education and community stories.
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