Changes visible as school begins

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 3, 2002

When students in the Albert Lea school district return to school today they may find themselves in larger classes, more study halls and with different transportation.

&uot;We have three major changes that will affect students,&uot; said Superintendent David Prescott. &uot;Busing changes for elementary students, higher class sizes for grades four and up and more study halls for high school students.&uot;

These changes, according to Prescott, are due to the district’s budget cuts. The busing changes for grades one through six are that students who live two miles or more from schools will still receive bus service but students who live within that radius will not. Last year, everyone over one mile away was eligible for bus service. Class sizes have been raised in the higher elementary grades as well as in the middle school and high school.

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With cutbacks in electives and fewer courses offered in some subjects, many students in the high school will have more study halls.

&uot;I think that certainly any time you have reductions you have to make some changes that aren’t great for everyone,&uot; said Al Root, principal of Albert Lea High School. &uot;There won’t be as many opportunities for students as there have been in the past, but we are still offering curriculum that will give students a high quality of education.&uot;

Even with all the changes, teachers are looking forward to the year &045; and to the school’s second attempt to pass a levy referendum that could provide more funds for the school, according to Prescott.

&uot;Our staff is optimistic, hopeful and upbeat,&uot; he said. &uot;They know that the referendum is out there. They know that it is going to be a difficult struggle to have the community support the referendum, but they are optimistic about it.&uot;

The superintendent said that orientations and parent/teacher meetings have given the community group &uot;TEAM&uot; (Together Education Achieves More) an opportunity to hand out material to inform parents on the referendum.

Prescott also said that registration may even be higher than projected for this year. &uot;Student enrollment seems to be holding and may even be higher than we expected, but year to year it is still dropping,&uot; he said. Open enrollment and busing routes to out-of-district communities have helped as well, he said.

Root said everything is in order for the year to begin. &uot;We had a teachers’ workshop earlier this week that went just fine. The custodians have done a great job in cleaning up the school grounds and getting the facilities ready for this year,&uot; he said. &uot;We are all ready to go.&uot;