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May 26, 2019

5/16/2019 2:02:00 PM
North Branch rejects request to provide academy busing

The North Branch School District Board on a 6-0 vote, declined to approve a request from a charter school asking for busing services for charter school pupils next year.  The North Branch Board cited multiple reasons for not getting involved in transporting Phoenix Academy students. Chief among these were that Phoenix has an not paid what it owes North Branch for providing Targeted Services administration, and that Phoenix missed the statutory deadline for notifying public schools of need for transportation services.  

Superintendent Dr. Deb Henton assured the board members that North Branch is under no obligation to pick-up and drop-off charter school students.

The North Branch School Board took the vote after much discussion about the deteriorating relationship between the two entities.  Supt. Henton explained that she  spoke with the Phoenix Academy director and advised him the district expects Phoenix to follow the rules, pay the delinquent bill for services, and she added that Phoenix agreed to  provide supervision of its students awaiting bus arrival/departure in the “corral” instead of North Branch assuming that responsibility.

North Branch School Board member Kevin Bollman looked around the Board Room last week and said he did not see anybody representing Phoenix Academy attending the meeting.

Tim MacMillan commented that the North Branch Board should not be put in this position.  He felt bad that there will potentially be children in need of transport and nobody was even there to explain what plan B is, or even how many students are potentially being impacted.

Board member Heather Osagiede remarked she felt North Branch staff are being dragged into the charter school’s drama and forced to use resources to address Phoenix Academy’s management shortcomings.

Board members debated tabling taking action, but didn’t think issues will change. Members ultimately agreed Phoenix parents would appreciate a decision sooner than later,  for some lead time and to arrange for their children’s transport.

Phoenix Academy, with classes through grade 5,  is in its first year of operation as a charter facility. It is in leased space at Trinity Lutheran Church, North Branch.

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