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Willmar School Board OKs attendance areas for elementary schools and raises lunch prices

WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board has approved attendance area boundaries for the Roosevelt and Kennedy elementary schools next year.

The boundaries were developed using a map that pinpointed the home address of each child who will attend the two K-5 schools, said Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard.

The district wanted to keep neighborhoods together and to balance the demographics of the two buildings. Kjergaard said the plan adopted by the board accomplishes that.

The board approved the boundaries at its meeting Monday evening. Board members also voted to increase the cost of school meals for the next school year.

In general, the two attendance areas break along a line from east of Eagle Lake, south along Business Highway 71, then west along Willmar Avenue.

Most of the questions he's gotten about the areas involve the location of day care providers, Kjergaard said.

"We don't plan on busing between attendance areas," Kjergaard said. That means that a child living in the Kennedy attendance area, for example, will not be able to ride a bus to a day care in the Roosevelt attendance area.

"We're hoping to save a little on transportation, too," he said.

Kjergaard said he understood that some day care relationships may be disrupted by the plan.

It may help families that the 85 licensed providers in Willmar are evenly divided between the two areas, he added.

Both buildings will also offer the Cardinal Place program for before- and after-school care.

The two schools will offer the same core curriculum and will offer similar programs.

The board approved a 10-cent increase in the cost of school meals.

Breakfast will still be free for all students in grades K-8 and for students who receive free and reduced-price lunches. Students in 9-12 will pay $1.10 for breakfast, and adults will pay $1.65.

Lunch prices will be $1.70 for grades K-5, $1.85 for grades 6-12 and $3 for adults. The price for an extra carton of milk will remain at 30 cents.

Kjergaard and Nutrition Director Annette Derouin said they hope to encourage more families to apply for free and reduced-price lunches.

In other business, the board:

- Reinstated a group of probationary teachers who were terminated when the board made budget cuts earlier this spring. The following were rehired Monday: Mike Dokkebakken, science; Tyler Gehrking, social studies; Todd Lynum, Chinese; Amanda Pehrson, elementary; Gloria Skalbeck, business; Scott Thompson, math; and Alyssa Urdahl, elementary.

Retirements and staff realignment helped make room for the reinstatements.

n Voted to reduce 10 days from the contract of social worker Cheryl Hansen, from 195 to 185 days.

- Voted to stop meeting each year in the other communities in the district. The change was made because the out-of-town meetings will no longer be taped for later showing on local cable.

- Agreed to put an end to the practice of allowing families to charge up to $5 in meals when their pre-paid meal account is empty.

The district is currently owed about $1,800 because of the policy.

- Changed the name of Jefferson Elementary School to Jefferson Learning Center. Jefferson is closing as an elementary school this spring and will reopen in the fall as the base for Willmar Community Education and Recreation programs.

- Closed the meeting to the public to discuss the appraisal and potential sale of the Washington Learning Center building, which is closing this year. The board took no action on the issue.