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Perham-Dent board eyes possible bus changes for new school year

A projected $8,000 increase in the cost of transporting students to and from school has the Perham-Dent Board of Education searching for ways to reduce busing costs for the 2010-2011 school year.

At an earlier meeting, the board had agreed board president Jim Rieber should contact the company that has the current bus contract, Bauck Busing Ltd., to see if some way could be found to reduce the cost of busing students. A reduction of about 5 percent had been suggested.

Rieber told board members at their July 21 regular board meeting that the possible elimination of one bus route could save the school district as much as $40,000. But, Rieber said the cut in costs would come with some side effects.

"Cutting one bus route could possibly extend other routes by as much as 15 minutes," Rieber told the board. "That might mean that a student already being picked up at about 6:50 a.m. might have to look for the bus to pick them up at around 6:35 instead."

Some board members suggested that other alternatives should be examined because a change might cause students to have to meet their bus much too early.

"Would he (Kent Zitzow) be willing to freeze the cost at what it was for last year with the same number of buses?" asked board member Dr. Michael Hamann.

Other suggestions included possibly not picking up students that live within a mile of their school or charging those students to be bused. No final decision was made on the issue.

After more discussion the board decided to place the item on the agenda for the group's next meeting for more debate and possible action.

In another budget related matter, the board agreed to hold a special meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. to only discuss the levy for the new school year's budget. The location of the meeting was not yet determined at the July 21 meeting.

MCA test scores

Superintendent Tamara Uselman presented some good news and bad news to the board about the recently received results of the MCA test scores.

The standardized tests are taken by students in Minnesota to determine whether or not they have achieved state goals.

Uselman told the board that the school district is making adequate yearly progress in:

• Graduation by all students and all sub-groups.

• Attendance by all students and all sub-groups.

• Participation by all students and all sub-groups.

• Proficiency in reading and math by all students.

But, Uselman's good news was tempered with the bad. She told board members that the district was not making adequate yearly progress in the district wide math performance by students who qualify for free and reduced meals.

"We will improve," vowed Uselman. "We take this very seriously."

Uselman said she will report to the board on a more regular basis on how student performance is in the test areas. Goals will be set and improvements plans will be submitted to the school board by the September school board meeting.

Board meeting location

The board also briefly discussed the locations for its meetings. The board currently meets in the city council chambers at Perham City Hall. It was suggested the board hold its meetings regularly at a location in a school district building.

Uselman said once it has been determined that a location in a district building suits the board's meeting needs then the meetings could be scheduled at a location other than city hall.