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NR District seeks more efficient bus routes

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It takes too long for most New Richmond bus riders to get home -- at least that's what District Administrator Morrie Veilleux thinks.

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Veilleux told the New Richmond School Board it takes the average bus rider roughly an hour to ride the bus to and from school.

"We should be more efficient," he said.

To do that, school administrators are considering an $8,800 contract with Watson Consulting Group, a North Oaks, Minn.-based group with experience in bus routes and schedules.

The School Board does not need to approve the contract because the cost is below the $10,000 cutoff that would require the Board to act on it.

If hired, Watson Consulting would look into school start and stop times, bus routes and gather community input through focus groups, Veilleux said.

Talking with staff isn't the only thing Watson Consulting will do, he said. Company representatives will also ride the routes.

"We'll have to make significant changes (to the bus routes)," Veilleux said. "Especially when the new High School opens."

In the past, the Board has sought public input regarding the bus schedule, but made few changes, Veilleux said. Now is the perfect time to identify what needs to be changed and implement it as soon as possible.

"We're hauling roughly half of our population," he said.

The New Richmond School District has 29 bus routes, Veilleux said.

The District's current bus contractor doesn't have the resources to do the study, but has no problem working with Watson Consulting to make the bus schedule better, Veilleux said.

"I really think it's something we need to do," he said.

In other news

• Board member Chris Skoglund formally thanked the staff at the High School for the professional and compassionate way they handled grieving students after New Richmond Junior Erik Ness was killed in a car crash.

• Brian Johnston, director of building and fiscal operations, recommended the District borrow a $1 million temporary line of credit to help cash flow while the District continues to negotiate its contract with teachers.

• The Board approved various change orders relating to the Hillside Elementary, Starr Elementary and High School projects. The change orders reduce the cost of the projects by almost $1.2 million, Veilleux said.

• Teacher, teacher assistant and food service negotiations are still ongoing, Veilleux said.

• The next regular Board meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Dec. 17 in the District Office's Community Room.

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Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
(715) 243-7767 x243
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