For 15 years, the Somerset School District had seven school bus routes.
Because of the population boom within the school district, the district is now adding a school bus route for the second straight year. This raises the bus route total to nine for the district.
The 1986-87 school year was the first year that the Somerset schools needed seven bus routes, when the enrollment was 739 students. By splitting bus routes and purchasing larger buses, the district was able to maintain the seven routes until last year. Now with a project enrollment of 1,345 for the upcoming year, there became a need for the ninth route.
Board member Mike Connor said that with 37 developments being planned within the district boundaries, the school enrollment is bound to continue skyrocketing.
The board members said another reason to add the route is to make sure that students don't have to spend any extra time on the buses before and after school.
At the July 19 school board meeting, the school board also renewed its contract with the Somerset Transportation Company for another year, the 2005-06 school year. Somerset Transportation has been providing buses for the school district for 27 years.
The district absorbs nearly all costs for additional transportation needs. District business manager Jan Carlson said the state transportation aids pay only a small percentage of costs for district transportation.
Nearly all of the teaching staff hirings for the 2004-05 school year are done after six staff members were hired at the July meeting. Nearly all of the new teachers hired at the meeting were hired away from neighboring school districts.
Staff members hired in July include:
Autumn Lukes as a multi-categorical high school special education teacher;
Melanie Germain as a kindergarten teacher. Germain, a Somerset graduate, had been teaching in Osceola;
Tami Fetter as a kindergarten teacher. Fetter taught last year in New Richmond;
Monica Duggan as elementary school secretary. Duggan has worked the past three years as the office secretary at the elementary school;
Dawn Schmidt as the eighth grade math and seventh grade reading teacher. Schmidt had been teaching and coaching in St. Croix Falls;
Shelly Hall as the elementary multi-categorical special education teacher. She has worked the past 13 years as a speech pathologist in the Amery School District.
District administrator Randy Rosburg also made a proposal to create several new staff positions. The requests would be for 3.5 full-time equivalent positions. These are all contingent on funds becoming available to support the hirings once the district budget is completed.
Contracts for food service and building maintenance for the 2004-05 school year were approved during the July meeting.
Chartwells was the company hired last February to take over the district food service. The district and its previous provider decided to part by mutual decision.
John Durtschi of Chartwells said his company exceeded profit projections by $2,700 for the district in the months that Chartwells served the school. He said that was due to more choices like salads and sandwiches being offered. He said the daily meal count was up by almost 50 by the end of the school year.
Durtschi presented the budget for the upcoming year, based on food cost projections. The board voted to raise student lunch prices by five cents and raise adult lunch prices by 10 cents. Milk prices will also go up five cents. Breakfast prices will remain the same.
These increases still leave Somerset with some of the lowest lunch costs in the area
The school board also approved a contract for Marsden Building Maintenance to continue providing maintenance services a at the high school and elementary school.
The only other fee change for the upcoming school year will be in driver's education, because state aids have been lowered in this area. It will now cost a student $35 for the classroom portion and $250 for the behind-the-wheel portion of the class.
An impromptu shower was held for Jim Landes at the start of the meeting. Landes had served this spring as the interim district superintendent. He also became a grandparent for the first time in June. The board members and administration presented him with several gifts for his grandchild.
Lynnette Hudnall was at her first meeting as the new high school principal.