May 15, 2009

Patrons send strong message to school board in Makoti meeting

Patrons send strong message to school board in Makoti meeting
It didn’t take long Monday night for the patrons of the Lewis and Clark School District to put pressure on their school board. In fact, the intensity was brewing before the meeting began as people were filing into the school.
Approximately 50 people crowded into a meeting room to hear opinions about the future of the school district and as the meeting began, several parents voiced their opposition to proposed changes the board has been discussing.
One of proposals is to close one of the district’s elementary schools, either in Ryder or Plaza, while another is to close the high school in Makoti, which would leave one high school, in Berthold, at the northern end of the district.
Patron Kent Janz began the marathon session when he asked, “Do you guys think you need to close the schools?”
Janz was one of numerous people on the board’s agenda and after 2 1/2 hours of discussion, board member Steve Bigelow made the motion to let it be the school board’s intent to keep the high school in Makoti for at least eight years and if new money from wind-turbine tax generation doesn’t come into the district in the next year, the board will revisit the closure of one of the elementary schools.
Bigelow’s motion passed with one dissenting vote, that of Mike Lautenschlager, a Berthold-area resident.
“Shouldn’t there be a discussion on this before you start to closing schools,” said patron Daryl Liefson? “There are a lot of people here worried we won’t have a high school and we need assurance that’s not going to happen.”
When Lautenschlager ment-ioned the alternative in Berthold, Liefson fired right back.
“I don’t think it’s right to cart kids that far,” Liefson said. “Adults don’t want to drive that far.”
Assuming there was one high school in Berthold, students from the Ryder area could be as far as 40 miles from school. Assuming the elementary in Ryder closed, students in that same area would be about 20 miles from the nearest school in Plaza.

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