by Samara Postuma
The St. Michael-Albertville School Board was presented with a check for $22,100 from the Wright County United Way.
The Wright County United Way covers Monticello, St. Michael and Buffalo but also acknowledges Albertville. Money that is donated to United Way from the four communities stays within the four communities.
The money that was presented to the school district will be split between all seven schools and will fund various mental health programs, summer bridges and courage retreats. Wright County United Way also gave money to St. Michael, Albertville Fire Department, FYCC, Hanover Food Shelf and the Crisis Nursery.
“It’s one of the few charities that you give to and it comes right back to us,” said United Way board member Craig Rens from Solutions Counseling.
Supt. Behle addressed the safety concerns that were brought up at a recent board meeting for open enrolled students. “The one day glimpse did not seem unsafe,” Behle reported, noting that the bus drivers also claimed they did not notice any unsafe conditions at bus stops.
Parent Katie Carroll, who previously brought the topic back to the forefront of the school board, helped Behle facilitate a survey to families right outside of the district. There were 224 respondents and of those 151 currently open enroll children to STMA.
The survey questions broke down the price parents would be willing to spend on transportation and also asked if parents would send their children to STMA if transportation was provided. Most parents responded they would be willing to spend $200. Because a bus route costs $40,000, the school district would still likely have to subsidize some of the expense.
It also creates an issue with collecting money and enforcing who has paid and who hasn’t.
Behle surveyed neighboring districts, and transportation for open enrolled students is offered on a very limited basis or not at all and gave his recommendation not to offer transportation to open enrolled students. He listed several reasons, including the fact that additional fees will not offset the cost, would be hard to enforce and monitor, and it would not be viewed favorably by the Elk River School District.
The board discussed and unanimously agreed with Behle’s recommendation. The board will not revisit the issue for at least two years unless there is a substantiated safety issue and reason.
A developer has purchased 150 acres in the Otsego/Albertville area and the district boundaries split some of the lots and plats so that neighbors would be going to either Elk River Schools or STMA Schools.
The developer has approached both Elk River and STMA about a land swap that would be fair for both districts so that lots and neighborhoods would not be so split. The development will include 359 lots in three phases and home prices are set to start between $285,000 to $350,000. Both school boards must approve the transaction and the plan would then need to be submitted to Wright County.