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DL students can still earn cheap credits

Students taking college classes through the Detroit Lakes High School may have to pay a small fee for the credits this year -- just not as much as originally proposed.

At the Detroit Lakes School board meeting Monday, members passed a policy that has the district providing a $28,000 per year pot to draw from (which is an increase from its previous $20,000 per-year allotment).

After state funding, this is expected to cover the estimated cost of enrollment in the increasingly popular College Now classes, which are college classes offered to juniors and seniors wanting to stay on the high school campus.

If enrollment proves to be higher than expected and the $28,000 does not cover the costs, students will then get a bill in the spring for the remainder of the cost with a $25 per student, per class cap. "So $25 is the most any one student will pay for any one College Now class," said Detroit Lakes Superintendent Doug Froke, "so that's still a really good deal."

District leaders had originally pitched a $40 per class, per student fee to cover the cost of the program, which is growing. The issue is, state funding does not grow with enrollment, which means the district was absorbing the costs.

Froke says right now there are 231 high school students enrolled in the classes, and if it stays that way, there will be no cost to students during the 2012-2013 year. But those enrollment numbers could change, and if there is overage to be paid, students will find that out in the spring.

Eating healthier

Detroit Lakes students may also be eating a bit healthier at school this year, as the board also adopted a new wellness policy.

Changes include a stricter guideline on school lunches, which will now offer more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and less high fat, high calorie foods.

The changes stem from a review of the previous wellness policy conducted by members of the Statewide Health Improvement Program.

Suggestions from SHIP representatives were embraced as board members like Dr. Tom Seaworth saw the academic benefit of healthy bodies.

"For years schools have had the obligation to educate children, but now it's gone way past that," said Seaworth, "there are so many studies that show kids who have the proper nutrition and physical activity have an improved academic performance and higher test scores. It's relatively inexpensive and it's not having to reinvent the wheel."

The new policy will also encourage classroom teachers to inject more physical activity into the day and phase out the idea of having high fat, high sugar "rewards" for celebrations, but to instead either provide healthier alternatives or reward students with different fun activities instead of food.

The policy also means the school district will provide healthier snacks in the vending machines while continuing to stock the soda machines with water and healthier drinks.

Spectators at local sporting events could also see a bit of a change at the concession stands.

"We know it's not bad to have a treat now and then; we know people want to have a hot dog at a ball game, and we don't want to take that away," said Seaworth. "But what we want to do is also offer some healthier choices at those concessions as well."