Bemidji School Board discusses enrollment, learning model

The Bemidji School District has, so far, seen a decrease in enrollment this year. Enrollment is a driving force in any district’s funding formula, and while Superintendent Tim Lutz says it’s not a Bemidji-only problem, some students are falling through the cracks.

The district had around 5,100 students enrolled in the Spring of 2020, but at the start of this year, enrollment was around 4,300, with 500 students added in the past week.

Some students have left to attend online charter schools or online post secondary education, some have gone back to their home districts or are being homeschooled, but between 40 and 60 students are still unaccounted for.

The district will continue its current safe learning model of in-person elementary, hybrid secondary, with distance learning for hybrid students on Wednesdays.

The COVID-19 case rates from the state for Beltrami County seem to be moving downward, but they are also a week behind.

Local information from Beltrami County Public Health shows an increase after the Labor Day holiday, from 6.51 to 10.63 as of yesterday.

Guidance from the state encourages districts to ensure their numbers are sustainable and steady before changing learning models.

About 800 Bemidji students opted-in for distance learning, and around 28 percent of all Native American students opted-in to distance learning. To date, four students have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Bemidji School Board also:

  • Certified the levy limit for 2020 taxes payable in 2021. Some taxes were under-collected for taxes payable in the 2019 tax year, so they will be collected 2020. The levy increase is around $415,000. If not for the under-collection, the levy increase would be around $150,000, or under 2 percent.
  • Heard an update to the 2020 operating referendum.
  • Heard from Beltrami County Administrator Kay Mack. The county is distributing some of its CARES Act dollars to the school district.
  • Heard from Horace May Elementary School about a new mural.
  • Heard student representative reports.
  • Held a first reading of SBR 700-30-10: Instruction- Title IX Sex Nondiscrimination Policy, Grievance Procedure and Process.
  • Accepted donations.

Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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