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School teams with village, community to find safe routes

A grant through the Safe Routes to Schools program will be pursued to establish a network of paths in the village for students to use, the Ellsworth School Board was told Monday.

Board Member Rick Kornmann said the application process for the grant, expected to range between $200,000 and $250,000 if approved, is getting underway. The Ellsworth Rotary Club has agreed to cover the expense involved in getting the grant going.

An ad hoc committee comprised of school and village officials, plus community members, has looked at possibilities for establishing the paths locally, Kornmann said. Some would take advantage of existing sidewalks while others would be newly developed. The committee has met with a grant writer from Cedar Corporation, a Menomonie engineering firm, and viewed an aerial photo of the village, examining main thoroughfares.

Some of the paths would be on school district property, while others could go over different lands, he said. St. Francis School has been involved in the planning process, besides the village and district. Surveys are to now be distributed to elementary and middle school families as part of the project.

Board President Scott Helmer conveyed the board's appreciation to the rotary club for its generosity in supporting this effort.

In other business Monday:

--Board Member Gerald Bristol reviewed matters for a meeting of the district's long-range planning committee last month, including transportation impact if Sunnyside and Lindgren schools are closed, as proposed, class size analysis, staff and service reductions, and communications. Bristol reminded the next committee meeting will be held this Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the high school library. Sanjeev Dhawan of Ellsworth, speaking from the audience, appealed to board members to attend the meeting and be responsive to the taxpayers.

--Adjustments to the district's 2006-07 budget were approved by the board. Under expenditures, they include decreasing the amount for undifferentiated curriculum and increasing the amount for vocational curriculum, plus decreasing the amounts for business administration and central services as well as increasing the amount for instructional services payments. The changes were recommended to more accurately account for the money which is to be spent, Superintendent Dan Kaler said.

--The order in which school board candidates' names on the spring election ballot will appear was determined by drawing from a hat. The order will be: Steve Georgakas, Mary Erlandson, Justin Hines, Laurie Andrews and Kurt Buckner.

--The yearly shared services contract with Cooperative Educational Services Agency (CESA)-11 was approved, excluding provisions for special education administration. Special ed services can now be handled in-house at a significant savings, Kaler said.

--The superintendent discussed the list of recommended resolutions for next week's state school board convention, giving his input and soliciting opinions from board members. Erlandson, as official delegate, was authorized by the board to vote at the convention as she sees fit.

--A special school board meeting was scheduled by the board for Monday, Jan. 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the high school library.