Change to District 241 busing policy noticed on first day

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 4, 2002

A concerned parent, Erin Hanson, addressed the board with concerns about her first-grade son who is having to cross the intersection where Highway 69, Main Street and Highway 13 converge to walk to school. This is happening because her son lives within the two-mile radius required by the state for bus funding.

&uot;I’m not against walking, but I don’t consider where he has to walk as safe,&uot; Hanson told the board.

In addition to the 46 and Main intersection, Hanson also has to cross a railroad track and walk on a street without a sidewalk to get to Sibley Elementary School, his mother said.

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Hanson said she drove her son to school Tuesday morning, but said that he will have to walk every other day because both she and her husband are at work. While paying the bus company to get service is an option, Hanson said it was too expensive for her at this point.

The district has, in the past, paid to transport elementary students who live more than a mile from their school. But with budget cuts for the 2002-2003 school year, they’ve had to cut funding, so now busing is only available for students in grades 1-12 living in areas outside of two miles.

&uot;I think it’s sad that we are in the position that we are right now. I definitely have a lot of empathy for the situation you are in,&uot; said Ken Petersen, the chairman of the board, to Hanson. &uot;But with a failed referendum, you are forced to make cuts that you don’t really want to make.&uot;

Bruce Olson, the district’s facilities and transportation director, said he hopes there will be some way the problem can be addressed. He said he would look at the area and see if there is a way to get transportation to relieve the problem.

The city is responsible for hiring crossing guards for the school district but, according to Olson, the guards have been pulled at the intersection of concern.

Other issues addressed at Monday’s school board meeting:

– Albert Lea schools will have a moment of silence at 10 a.m. on Sept. 11 to reflect on the events of one year ago on that date.

&uot;We are reserving that time for a moment of reflection, memory and hope,&uot; were the words read aloud by Peterson from a letter from Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Ventura sent out letters to districts across the state asking that all schools take that 10 a.m. time to reflect on the event of national tragedy.

– The board read aloud a letter from the President of the Albert Lea Youth Soccer Association commending Bob Hamberg, the groundskeeper for the district. The letter complimented the job done by Hamberg as well as his commitment to and cooperation with the soccer tournament hosted by ALYSA this past June. Hamberg was commended on the conditions of the grounds as well as the field, which many teams recognized as the &uot;best fields and complex that they had ever played at,&uot; the letter said.