BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN School will start Tuesday, Sept. 5, and end Wednesday, May 23, 2018, for Delano Public Schools students.
The Delano School Board approved the 2017-18 calendar on a 6-1 vote, with Director Rachel Depa opposed, during its Feb. 27 meeting.
The calendar begins with four professional-development days for staff from Aug. 28 to Aug. 31. It includes the following breaks: Oct. 19 and 20; Nov. 23 and 24; Dec. 25 through Jan. 1, Jan. 15 for professional development, and March 30 and April 2.
Depa said during the work session that parents and teachers had given her negative feedback about having four professional-development days grouped together before the start of the school year, as well as only a two-day Thanksgiving break.
“The feedback I got was they hate the Thanksgiving thing, and they don’t like the front-loaded teacher workshop days,” Depa said. “The parents don’t like it. The teachers I talked to don’t like it . . . The parents don’t like that there’s no breaks in between but also don’t like the Thanksgiving thing. Everyone says that (Wednesday) is a travel day.”
“Let’s be clear, though: not everyone is saying that,” Director Corey Black said. “Some people are saying it. Some people are really happy about it. Let’s be careful about saying everybody because we know it’s not everybody. Some like it one way and some like it the other way.”
Chair Amy Johnson said that teachers had requested four professional-development days to start the school year.
Director Al Briesemeister said he would like staff to talk more amongst themselves regarding the calendar before the board gets involved.
“I think it’s hard to do it in the context of a year like this when we’e so squeezed,” Briesemeister said. “Once we get through this construction phase and get back to a more normal year, the staff can get back to having their own preliminary discussions before we even talk to them.”
Director Lisa Seguin added, “This is not a precedent-setting calendar.”
Depa asked if the calendar included more student-contact days than required.
“I feel very strongly that, first of all, the state of Minnesota, has one of the lowest number of hours required. That concerns me,” Superintendent Matt Schoen said. “ . . . It bothers me when the discussion moves to, ‘We only need the minimum number of hours.’ I think the district, as it meets and exceeds goals in standardized testing and educational excellence, I think we ought to be putting more days in the school calendar if we can afford it and get more educational pieces into it.”
With that said, Schoen later joked that he would go on tour if he came up with a calendar that pleased everyone.
During the regular meeting, Johnson expounded on the calendar.
“This is not a fun calendar. This is not an ideal calendar,” Johnson said. “This does not represent our opinions on breaks for students. It really put a lot of pressure on making sure we had time to operate our learning in terms of semesters and quarters so we could get our students in and out and graduate.”
She classified the calendar as the best scenario that came out of a long process. She thanked staff, parents, and community members for providing feedback on the calendar throughout that process.
Black added that staff had been very good to work with regarding the calendar.
“I appreciate everybody’s flexibility,” Black said. “These big curveballs are hard to swing at.”
Open enrollment limits
As is standard practice, the board approved open enrollment limits.
The number of nonresident students who may enroll in free preschool, grades two through six, and grades eight through 12 may not exceed 1 percent of total enrollment at their particular grade, or the number of district residents at that grade who are enrolled in another district, whichever is lower.
Open enrollment cannot cause the kindergarten class to exceed 180 students, the first-grade class to exceed 184 students, or the seventh-grade class to exceed 217 students.
If families move into the district, open-enrollment limits do not pertain to them, Schoen clarified.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• discussed the Project Oversight Committee’s approval of the expansion of the intermediate school gym from 5,700 square feet to the Society of Health and Physical Educators’ recommendation of 6,600 square feet at a cost of $140,000 from the contingency fund. The PUC has authority to approve purchases up to $300,000.
• approved personnel matters, including the retirements of second-grade teacher Toni Clifton, third-grade teacher Lynda Sohns, and high school science teacher Boak Wiesner. Johnson thanked them for their many years of service.
• accepted more than $53,327 in donations from 17 different entities.
• learned about I Love To Read Month from staff and first-graders, who read to the board.
• approved the second and final read of Policy 809 regarding health and safety.