February 18, 2019 06:03 PM
The snowy winter Minnesota has been experiencing has been a thrill for snowmobile enthusiasts after several years with less-than-average snowfall.
But the issue of whether students should be able to ride snowmobiles to school is a hot issue in one Minnesota community right now after a few students did and were told it is not allowed.
"For this community, snowmobiling is a big thing. It's a big money industry," Scott Haley, with Rum River Sno Riders, said.
Haley said his phone started ringing off the hook after the Milaca School District sent an email to parents last week reminding parents snowmobiles are not allows on school property.
"All of these kids who've worked their butts off to get snowmobiles and took classes to get certified to ride are very upset they were told they can't ride to school," Haley said.
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Haley's snowmobile club maintains and grooms about 130 miles of trails around Milaca, including one that passes near the high school.
"As long as you're responsible about it, there's no reason it shouldn't be allowed," said Brad Giese, who was out snowmobiling Monday afternoon.
Milaca's city ordinance indicates that snowmobiling is not allowed on public school property unless there is "express permission from the proper public authority."
Many residents said the school's policy seemed to go against the important role snowmobiling plays in Milaca's economy and overall way of life.
"Riding a snowmobile to school is like riding in a car here, so I don't see a reason why not," Giese said.
5 EYEWITNESS News took the community concern to the school district and leaders indicated they are now taking a second look at their policy.
"We are open to having a conversation about this issue, and if possible, finding a solution that allows students to ride safely to school," Superintendent Tim Truebenbach wrote in a statement.
Haley said he's been contacted by parents who are planning to take their concerns to the district's next school board meeting. The superintendent said the high school principal plans to bring the issue up during the meeting.
"Their feelings are the same as ours," Haley said. "(Students have) worked so hard to get these snowmobiles, why not let them run them and I'm confident the school board can come up with a feasible solution so the kids can ride."
The school board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 Tuesday evening. It will be held at the Area Learning Center meeting space in Milaca.
Updated: February 18, 2019 06:03 PM
Created: February 18, 2019 04:06 PM
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