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By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — When it comes to bus drivers, the Elk Mound school district is in the same position as many other employers who are trying to find employees.
The school district is still down one bus driver and is running 10 routes instead of 11 routes, said Eric Wright, district administrator, at the Elk Mound Board of Education’s August 21 meeting.
The school district is actively seeking another bus driver but has not had success up to this point, he noted.
Since the bus drivers are down by one, that means the rest of the routes are longer and have more students on the buses, Wright said.
The Wednesday afternoon bus routes could pose a particular problem. The middle school students do not have any sports practice on Wednesdays, and that means there will be additional students on the buses, he said.
If necessary, the school district will take students home in vans or will run a double route, Wright explained.
One person is working toward obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), “but that’s not accomplished overnight,” he said.
The school district is struggling with the bus routes, “but we’re getting through,” Wright said, adding that he is asking parents to be patient.
The truth of the matter is — it usually takes about the first two and a half weeks of school for the bus routes to be settled in even when there are enough bus drivers, he said.
Parents do have the option of dropping their students off at school and picking them up, but parents should also be aware that there is quite a lot of traffic congestion on University Street, Wright said.
Last week, one person posted a photograph on social media of bumper-to-bumper traffic in the morning on University Street in Elk Mound with people waiting to drop off their students at school.
The Elk Mound school district has a little more than 1,200 students.
The Colfax school district has about 750 students, while the Boyceville school district has a little over 700 students, and Glenwood City has about 630 students.
The chiller is up and running, and there are only a few punch list items left to finish on the referendum-approved construction projects, Wright said.
The good news is that the referendum projects have come in under budget, he said.
Voters in the Elk Mound school district approved the $15 million referendum question in April of 2020.
Referendum projects included updating the woodworking and metal shops at Elk Mound High School; building a new high school band room; building a new Elk Mound Middle School gymnasium; remodeling the old middle school gymnasium into classrooms; updating the high school locker rooms; expanding the high school weight room; and athletic field improvements.
Because the referendum projects have come in under budget, Brian Brewer with Robert W. Baird & Company, the school district’s financial consultant, will attend the Elk Mound Board of Education’s September 18 meeting virtually to describe options for the school board on how to give that money back to the residents in the school district, Wright said.
In other business, the Elk Mound Board of Education:
• Learned that Elk Mound High School’s Homecoming will be held on October 6.
• Learned that “picture day” will be September 20.
• Approved the Back to School Plan, which has not changed, and is required to remain on the school district’s website until September of 2024 as part of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding. The school board asked for public comments on the funding but did not receive any comments.
• Received a reminder that school board meetings will be held on October 23, due to the school district receiving notification on October 15 of the exact amount of state aid that will be received and so that a tax levy can be set by November 1, and on November 27, the week after Thanksgiving.
Following a closed session, the Elk Mound Board of Education approved hiring Bethany Hubbard as a paraprofessional.