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School approves insurance for students

A long-standing student and athletic accident insurance program in the Osakis School District was the topic of extended discussion at the Monday, Aug. 13 School Board meeting.

The policy will cost the school district $29,748 for the coming school year, and board members struggled with whether or not the district should offer the program.

"Osakis is one of the few school districts that offers this," Supt. Randal Bergquist told the board. "It is a great program for kids if something happens on the field or in a contest. This is secondary insurance."

This past school year about 60 students took advantage of the insurance, with $43,000 paid out in claims, according to Athletic Director Brad Hoffarth.

Myron Larson Insurance of Alexandria inherited the policy when it took over the Osakis district's insurance. "They have paid out what we have paid in over the last five years," commented board member Mike Collins.

The program, which sets a precedent in the Osakis school district benefits the kids. "It's not a waste of our taxpayers' money. It's a really nice benefit to our kids," Collins added. "If we can do it, it's a nice thing to do."

Board Chair Becky Hensley questioned if it was wise to spend $30,000 on a program that only benefitted 60 students out of a student body of 820 kids.

"It was a huge benefit when it started years ago, but now it is a large ticket item," Hensley said.

Board member Tom Grundman said the insurance cost the district about $5,000 when it started years ago.

The insurance covers a portion of a claim after the student's parents' insurance has paid. Claims are submitted by the school nurse for students whose parents file an accident report within 60 days of an accident.

Because the 2018-19 athletic programs began Monday, Aug. 13, the School Board finally agreed to approve the accident insurance for this year. But they agreed that the program must be revisited for next year, with the possibility of discontinuing the district's coverage, and offering parents of athletes different private insurance options.

Other action

In other business, the School Board:

• Approved an increase of 10 cents per meal, to $2.30 per meal, based on federal guidelines;

• Voted to keep the athletic participation fees the same as last year.

• Approved a one-year lease to the Head Start program for $500 per month, or $6,000 for the year. The area being leased is Room 170 within the Early Childhood wing of the Osakis Public School. The space is used for the operation of a classroom facility,and educational offices.

• Discussed expending $50,000 out of the reserve fund to update the Media Center. Supt. Bergquist reported he is working on obtaining matching funds and grants for the project, which will make the Media Center more of a 21st Century learning center. The Facilities Committee will meet and make prioritized recommendations for the project at the September board meeting. Improvements in the Senior Lounge and the cafeteria will also be discussed.

• Heard a report from High School Principal Tim Roggenbuck that new students orientation will be held, along with seventh grade orientation on Aug. 29 at 5 p.m., during Open House. He presented the board with information on an amendment to the Student Handbook approved in July to deal with social media, regarding permission to take photos or film kids.

• Principal Shad Schmidt reported that he had started back at work full time on Aug. 6, and is working with the new secretary preparing for the transition. He reported that pre-school mid-day transportation will be amended this coming year to $1 per ride up to 10 miles of the city limits; and $1.50 per ride for miles 11-20 from the city limits. This will make it easier for parents. Bus driving assignments are being worked out.

• Accepted donations of $200 for labor and materials for electrical work at the football complex from Lennes Brothers; $1,500 from the Osakis Grid Iron Club for football coach salary; and school supplies from Denise Herness and Heidi Dickinson.

• Approved the lone fuel bid from Deluxe Oil for 18 cents per gallon over distributor's invoice price for unleaded, No. 2 fuel, and diesel No. 2.