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

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Student population affects Moose Lake School funding


October 31, 2019

The Moose Lake School Board discussed the student population at the school and the various groups within the population at the monthly meeting of the board on Monday, Oct. 21.

“We had 31 percent of the students that received free and reduced lunches last year,” said Superintendent Robert Indihar. “This year, it is 22.4 percent. It depends on who we have in our school as to how many receive free and reduced lunches. Typically, if we have a high special education population, we have more free and reduced lunch kids.”

The school receives more aid for students that qualify for free and reduced lunch prices.

“We sent a letter to every household, passed out paperwork to parents at conferences, and we sent another letter out,” Indihar added.

He said that the student population this year is under 620.

Another option for students that affects state aid for the school is PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Options) and online students.

It was explained that students in the higher grades can take up to 27–30 credits of college courses a year.

“Some students take the classes at the college rather than in high school,” said Indihar. “There are 14 students taking classes online. Two are going to college full-time while most are taking two classes online.”

“The students have to be in eleventh or twelfth grade to take online classes,” added High School Principal Billie Jo Steen. “For PSEO or online, the students go through Lake Superior College. We get full funding for them and the college bills us. We are required to tell the kids about their options.”

“There are circumstances (such as missing the high school experience) for the students that take classes away from Moose Lake,” added Indihar. “We want to keep them here and teach them with our teachers.”

Lee Stephenson, a Social Studies teacher, said that the students hear that it is easier to take online classes.

“If they take two online classes, they do the work for the class, go home for lunch and take a nap,” he said. “Then they come back for the evening activities.”

Board Member Kim Bohnsack expressed her concerns.

“That is definitely a trend,” she said. “I’m concerned about the school’s livelihood, keeping school open and employing teachers.”

“It is a trend,” replied Indihar. “We don’t think that it is going to stop. We have to be cognizant that we put a good product out there so the kids will want to be here. We have to look at our scheduling.”

Steen recommended that the Infinity Online program be explored.

“That would be a better deal for us if they go to Infinity Online,” Indihar agreed.

“The bottom line is that kids and families want choices but there is an impact,” said Steen.

Elementary Principal Kraig Konietzko reported that he and Julie Duesler of Early Childhood Education are working on a design for the early childhood playground.

“We’ve got some things moving on that,” he said. “By spring, we should have a clear concrete plan.”

Indihar reminded the board members that they had allocated $50,000 for the playground. The Kiwanis Club has donated $500 towards the project, according to the agenda. The board accepted the donation.

There was discussion about missed days by students. It was said that the limit had been set at 20 days but it has been suggested that the number of missed days be cut back to 15 days.

Steen reported that Pine County is changing its truancy methods.

“It’s going to be completely different,” she added. “Our truancy is equally split between Pine County and Carlton County. We need to get on the front end of it instead of waiting too long.”

In other business, the board agreed to increase the school nurse’s time one hour a day to total six hours each day.

The next meeting of the board was changed to Tuesday, November 26, at 5 p.m. A special meeting to discuss development of the school-owned property was set for Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 5 p.m.


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