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Elections, budget discussion on deck for Jan. 24 school board meeting

The Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education will have their first meeting of the new year at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 24, in the district office board room.

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BEMIDJI — The Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education will have its first meeting of the new year at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 24, in the district office board room.

At each January meeting, the school board is expected to elect a chairperson, vice-chairperson, clerk and treasurer for the coming year.

The board will start off the meeting with these elections along with determining compensation for each position and setting regular monthly meeting times and dates for 2022.

Aside from Superintendent Tim Lutz’s routine COVID update for the district, the Emergency Temporary Standard proposed by the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be discussed.

The ETS was first discussed at the Nov. 15 board meeting and would’ve mandated employers with 100 or more employees to require vaccination or be subject to weekly testing.

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The Supreme Court rejected the ETS in a 6-3 decision on Thursday, Jan. 13, and now the district will determine how they want to proceed with regards to vaccines and testing for employees.

Also on the docket is a review of the district’s ESSER funds received to address learning loss due to the pandemic.

District Business Director Krisi Fenner will provide a detailed summary of the three rounds of relief funding totaling around $18 million, how the district is expected to spend the funds and other restrictions regarding their uses.

Bemidji High School Principal Jason Stanoch will discuss proposed changes to the high school’s four-period block schedule as a potential cost-saving measure and resulting conversations between the board.

A special work session on Wednesday, Dec. 15 walked through possible five-period and six-period schedules, with the board seemingly in favor of a five-period day should a change be made.

Any changes would take effect starting with the 2023-2024 school year with the current block schedule remaining through at least 2022-2023.

The board will then review the board member replacement process following Jeff Haack’s Nov. 15 resignation.

Discussion from the Dec. 20 board meeting determined that the District Personnel Committee would draft an application along with specific guidelines for the evaluation and selection of candidates.

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The replacement board member would take the vacant sixth spot temporarily until November when the next national election takes place, and more updates will be provided by the committee.

Two grant applications to the George W. Neilson Foundation are also set to be approved. One grant totaling $180,000 over three years — 2022 to 2025 — as well as a $60,000 grant over the same time frame would allow funding for current Bemidji Career Academy staffing and partial funding for a career academy counselor instead of a BHS freshman counselor.

The public can attend the meeting in person or watch the meeting 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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