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Late school buses enable more student participation in after-school activities

The Park Rapids School Board convened its first session of the year, swearing in recently re-elected members and determining officers.

Sherry Safratowich will remain chair, Gary Gauldin vice chair, Stephanie Carlson clerk and Carol Savage treasurer.

Board compensation will remain the same, a base annual salary of $2,600 and $25 per meeting, $50 for meetings lasting more than four hours.

Safratowich is the board representative for special education, the PAWN Council and negotiations. Gauldin will represent the board regarding activities, including Minnesota State High School League; the Headwaters Regional Development Commission; as a legislative liaison and Progress Park Rapids.

Carlson will attend scholarship and negotiations committee meetings. Savage will be the board rep on the Community Education Council, Systems Accountability Committee and negotiations.

David Otterness is the technology rep and Dennis Dodge will attend North Country Vocational Co-op meetings and serve as school forests envoy.

The school board will continue to meet at 6 p.m. the first and third Monday of the month in the Frank White Education Center.

The second meeting in February will be held Tuesday, Feb. 22 due to Presidents Day.

In other action, the board:

n Approved Denny Sleen as a high school industrial arts instructor.

"This is a full-time position," superintendent Glenn Chiodo stated. "Not a long term sub."

In December, the board accepted the resignation of Scott Eischens, without comment.

Eischens allegedly brought a hunting rifle onto school property, which violates district policy.

He was placed on paid leave until the matter was resolved.

The county attorney is looking into possible charges, complicated by issues related to the Data Privacy Act and how much information the school attorney can release to the prosecuting attorney.

n Accepted the resignation of Cheryl Breitbach, who teaches elementary physical education. She has taught 33 years, since 1978, in the Park Rapids schools.

Beth Baker-Knuttila is retiring after 34 ½ years in the classroom, 32 spent in the Park Rapids district. She has instructed first and second graders, this year in Title I.

They will retire at the school year's conclusion.

n Reported on the student use of the late bus, initiated this year with two-year funding through St. Joseph's Area Health Services and Park Rapids Education and Activities Foundation.

"I see names of students who wouldn't be involved in after-school activities if it wasn't for this," said Cindy Leach, school district transportation director. "It's enabled them to be part of the activities. It's a big benefit."

Three buses head out each afternoon, with the majority of the riders involved in athletics, followed by middle school students participating in 8th Hour, tutoring, drama and Community Education.

Middle school students outnumber their older (high school) and younger (grade school) counterparts by an approximate 5 to 1 ratio.

The most riders head north, to Lake George and Itasca, followed by the southeast route, to Hubbard and Nevis, followed by the Ponsford and Osage area.

Superintendent Glenn Chiodo said they are looking at options for students involved in sports and activities that extend later in the evening.