Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Moose Lake School transportation audit on the horizon


August 29, 2019

The Moose Lake School Board voted to sign an agreement with the Watson Consulting Group for a transportation audit at the meeting of the board on Monday, August 19.

Before the board voted to accept the agreement, Tom Watson spoke about his services.

“We look at the three Es in the audit,” he told the board. “Efficiency, effectiveness and economy. We will ask the question: How long should a kindergarten student, elementary or high school student be on the bus? But there are a lot more dynamics than just busing kids. In the audit, we look at a lot of different things.”

Superintendent Robert Indihar reported that the timing was right for the audit.

“We lease propane-fueled buses,” he said. “Our lease is up at the end of the year.”

Watson said that there is state aid for transportation. He would help the school district in applying for the state aid.

Parents will be asked if they are happy with busing.

“There are a lot of passenger cars that come to drop off their kids at the school,” said Watson. “The obvious question is aren’t they happy with the bus service? Why?

“We will look at the policies and staffing and shared services like sports. We will look at what the drivers are paid, retention and the ages of the drivers. That tells about the future of the drivers.”

Watson also said that the data will be compared with data from the other school districts in the county.

There is a possibility of sharing busing with the Barnum School District, it was said.

Indihar explained that Watson had brought his proposals to the superintendent’s group first, and then he met with the superintendents and board chairs of the Barnum, Moose Lake and Willow River School Districts.

The Barnum School District is also interested in the audit but Willow River is not, he reported.

“In Phase One, Mr. Watson will just do a transportation audit of our district,” he told the board. “We will look at sharing busing with Barnum in Phase Two.”

High School Principal Billie Jo Steen presented information to the board about Restorative Practices, a program that will be used in the high school for the 2019-2020 school year.

Steen explained that Mickelson Consulting will be working with the school in implementing the program.

“We’ve been doing this for a couple of years but this will be more in depth,” she said. “In January 2018 I was invited to the Department of Corrections to hear about the program. It was an eye-opener for me to hear grown men tell how they were treated in school. One man had been suspended. That was a turning point in his life. When he had to go back to school, he was not welcomed.”

Another offender came from the prison camp to teach an inservice, Steen went on to say.

“The teachers said that it was the best inservice that they had ever attended,” she added. “He told of incidents and experiences in school and how they affected the rest of his life. The staff decided that we wanted to do more in the high school. The staff was the driver in doing more of it.”

Steen said that the focus will be community building. The students will be taught relationship skills. Restorative language will be used to ask the students how they thought and felt about relationships. They will be taught the consequences of harmful behavior. Apology conferences will be held between the students where there had been conflicts.

“Every student should have a voice in the process,” said Steen. “Every student will have a chance to speak.”

Parents will join their students in circles, in some cases.

“The program will be combined with PBIS, Positive Behaviors, Interventions, and Support,” said Steen. “We will use an advisory program for 20 minutes a day during the lunch period by grade level. We will check in with the students each day to welcome them and see how they are doing. That is the opportunity for all of the students to have a voice. And then we will check the students out at the end of the day.”

Elementary Principal Kraig Konietzko was not present to give a report due to a death in his family.

In other business, the board accepted the resignation of Ryan Hanson, the music teacher; accepted the resignation for retirement of Custodian Paul Jubie; approved a boiler license contract with James Calhoun; and accepted contracts with Kimberly Siedlecki (School Readiness Educator and ECFE Parent Educator), Priscilla Heimbruch (School Readiness Educator), and Ed. Midwest for IT Consulting Services.

The next monthly meeting of the board was set for Monday. Sept. 16, at 5 p.m. Note the time change.


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