Board also accepts retirement letter from Hasbrouck, who's been with district for 40 years.

    Typically, when a teacher, custodian or principal retires in a school district, there's a pretty standard process in place to hire a successor.

    But when the bus mechanic/maintenance person recently retired in the Red Lake Falls School District, it left the decision-makers in that district in an atypical quandary. Why? Because the mechanic used his own tools, and when he retired he took his tools with him.

    When Crookston School District Superintendent Chris Bates got wind of the Red Lake Falls situation at a recent meeting of superintendents in the Pine to Prairie Cooperative, he saw an opportunity for collaboration and jumped at it. He subsequently scheduled a meeting with Red Lake Falls School District officials that was attended by Bates, Business Manager Laura Lyczewski and Transportation/Grounds Coordinator Rick Niemela.

    "They faced a tough situation there, where they needed a new person, they needed tools and equipment, and they also needed to refurbish their bus garage," Bates recalled at Monday's meeting of the Crookston School Board. "I thought it was a situation where maybe we could help each other out."

    The resulting agreement unanimously approved by the school board Monday will have Red Lake Falls school buses being driven to the Crookston bus garage a few days a month for routine maintenance, which will be performed by Crookston maintenance staff. Red Lake Falls will pay the Crookston district $50 an hour for the work. Red Lake Falls has an option to add two additional years to the deal at the same rate, Bates explained, adding that both districts have an opportunity to conclude later on that the arrangement isn't working and nix it if need be.

    "It's good for them and it's good for us," Bates said. "They're pleased, and clearly we are, too."

    The Red Lake Falls district has 11 vehicles. Six of those are buses that go on routes and the remainder are buses or other vehicles that go on athletic trips or provide transportation to other events and activities. Lyczewski said Monday that a couple Red Lake Falls buses have already been driven to Crookston to have some work done. If it's determined at various points that a bus needs work beyond what is considered routine maintenance, she explained, the Red Lake Falls district will likely take the bus somewhere else to get the more extensive work done.

    Asked by board member Keith Bakken if the arrangement will increase the hours worked by Crookston transportation maintenance staff, Bates said that has yet to be determined, but added that if the Crookston district needs to hire "a little extra help, we'll certainly have some leeway from the amount that we negotiated" with Red Lake Falls. "I would say by next summer we'll know how this is working," Bates added. "I anticipate that people are going to think it works pretty well."

Hasbrouck hailed

   The board accepted the retirement letter from Deb Hasbrouck, who's worked in the Central High School and then Crookston High School office for 40 years. Her last day will be Dec. 21.

   Board member Adrianne Winger said Hasbrouck will be missed. "She was that one constant thing," Winger said. "Teachers, principals would come and go, but she was always there and she knew the answer to everything."