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Gearing up for a new season, the Grand Island Ski Team has new leaders, a new schedule, and new slopes to conquer.

Grand Island school administrators announced at Monday's School Board meeting that the ski team -- comprising about 200 students in grades 6 through 12 -- will now be led by town residents and parents Mark and Karen Bullock.

The ski team, an Island institution for the past 30 years, is a "School Board-sanctioned " activity in which students from the district pay a flat fee for eight weeks of snow time, including lessons, equipment rentals, and transportation, according to Superintendent Paul D. Fields.

The program is wholly paid for by the students and is run at no cost to the district, Fields said, adding that the School Board's official backing allows the program to employ school standards of behavior and discipline procedures.

"This is a wonderful experience for the kids. It taught my daughter a life-long skill and life-long achievements," Fields said.

Board President Richard J. McCowan called the ski program "a great contribution to our school district and our community."

Karen Bullock said changes in the program this year will include a switch in scheduling of the five-hour skiing nights from Friday to Saturday.

Also changed, she said, will be the ski resort that the students will be using, with Holiday Valley Ski Resort replacing Kissing Bridge.

The tentative estimate of the cost to participants in this year's program, said Mrs. Bullock, is $215 for students requiring rental equipment as well as lessons and bus transportation. For those not needing rental equipment, she said, the cost will be about $180.

"We hope to start as soon as there are good conditions -- in mid-December, hopefully," Mrs. Bullock said.

In other business, the board:

Voted unanimously to transfer $300,000 from the district's general fund -- left unallocated at the recent closing of the district's books for the 1997-1998 school year -- to a newly created "trust and agency long-term debt fund." The money will be used next year and in coming years to fund insurance premiums of retired district staff members, school officials said. Previously, funding for retired staff members has come out of the district's general fund, a practice which is legal but not in the best interests of the district, school officials said.

Set its next meeting for 7 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Transportation Department offices.

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