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Public asked to give input on 2012-13 Bemidji School District calendar

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The public is being asked by the Bemidji School District's Board of Education to weigh in on what the 2012-13 school year should look like.

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On Monday, the board unanimously approved to move three calendar options forward for consideration. The board is now asking the public for input on whether a spring break should be included in next year's calendar.

All three calendar options have the school year starting Sept. 4, and include 173 student days and 183 teacher contract days, with Aug. 27 designated as the teachers' first day of work. Each option also sets aside three makeup days for snow days.

At 6:30 p.m. March 19 in the Bemidji High School Media Center, the school board will consider the following 2012-13 calendar options:

E Students would have a winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and be off March 29 (Good Friday). May 31 would be the students' last day of school.

E Students would have a winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and a spring break from March 25-29. June 6 would be the students' last day of school.

E Students would have off winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and a spring break from March 28 through April 2. June 5 would be the students' last day of school.

The options were recommended to the board by a committee made up of leadership from the Bemidji Education Association and the school district.

While the state mandates public schools begin school the day after Labor Day, the school board has the final say on which days teachers and students have off.

In recent years, the school board has decided the school calendar should include a spring break every other year, as a way to compromise with the parents, school staff and students who oppose and support having a spring break.

Once the board approves the 2012-13 calendar, Bemidji High School Principal Brian Stefanich and high school staff will need to designate what day high school graduation will be.

Kathy Palm, the district's director of curriculum, sent surveys to parents asking for their opinions whether a spring break is included in the calendar, Superintendent James Hess said, but as of Monday, the district had not yet received results from the survey.

School board member John Pugleasa said since the board voted to have a spring break every other year, he has heard few concerns from people about the school calendar.

In discussing the option to have a spring break, some school board members questioned whether parents use spring break as a time to take vacations.

Hess said there are a lot of families in the school district who choose not to vacation during that time.

"We have 52 percent of our children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches," Hess said. "They are not likely going to spend money on a vacation. Our schedule needs to reflect the majority of our kids."

BHS Junior Erik Sorensen, a student representative on the school board, told board members he would prefer to have a spring break because it gives students a much-needed vacation between winter break and the last day of school.

"I think a sizeable number of students think having a spring break is a good thing," he said. "This year, I have to worry about studying for my MCA and ACT test and other assignments in my other classes. It's not a week where I'm playing video games. I'm still learning something during that time."

Senior and student school board representative Katie Kovacovich agreed with Sorensen, saying that having a spring break serves a purpose to students who have a full academic course load and are involved in extracurricular activities.

"This year, with no spring break, things get a lot more crammed," she said.

School board contacts

Information on how to contact school board members can be found online at www.bemidji.k12.mn.us/District/board.html or by calling 333-3100.

The public is being asked by the Bemidji School District's Board of Education to weigh in on what the 2012-13 school year should look like.

On Monday, the board unanimously approved to move three calendar options forward for consideration. The board is now asking the public for input on whether a spring break should be included in next year's calendar.

All three calendar options have the school year starting Sept. 4, and include 173 student days and 183 teacher contract days, with Aug. 27 designated as the teachers' first day of work. Each option also sets aside three makeup days for snow days.

At 6:30 p.m. March 19 in the Bemidji High School Media Center, the school board will consider the following 2012-13 calendar options:

- Students would have a winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and be off March 29 (Good Friday). May 31 would be the students' last day of school.

- Students would have a winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and a spring break from March 25-29. June 6 would be the students' last day of school.

- Students would have off winter break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and a spring break from March 28 through April 2. June 5 would be the students' last day of school.

The options were recommended to the board by a committee made up of leadership from the Bemidji Education Association and the school district.

While the state mandates public schools begin school the day after Labor Day, the school board has the final say on which days teachers and students have off.

In recent years, the school board has decided the school calendar should include a spring break every other year, as a way to compromise with the parents, school staff and students who oppose and support having a spring break.

Once the board approves the 2012-13 calendar, Bemidji High School Principal Brian Stefanich and high school staff will need to designate what day high school graduation will be.

Kathy Palm, the district's director of curriculum, sent surveys to parents asking for their opinions whether a spring break is included in the calendar, Superintendent James Hess said, but as of Monday, the district had not yet received results from the survey.

School board member John Pugleasa said since the board voted to have a spring break every other year, he has heard few concerns from people about the school calendar.

In discussing the option to have a spring break, some school board members questioned whether parents use spring break as a time to take vacations.

Hess said there are a lot of families in the school district who choose not to vacation during that time.

"We have 52 percent of our children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches," Hess said. "They are not likely going to spend money on a vacation. Our schedule needs to reflect the majority of our kids."

BHS Junior Erik Sorensen, a student representative on the school board, told board members he would prefer to have a spring break because it gives students a much-needed vacation between winter break and the last day of school.

"I think a sizeable number of students think having a spring break is a good thing," he said. "This year, I have to worry about studying for my MCA and ACT test and other assignments in my other classes. It's not a week where I'm playing video games. I'm still learning something during that time."

Senior and student school board representative Katie Kovacovich agreed with Sorensen, saying that having a spring break serves a purpose to students who have a full academic course load and are involved in extracurricular activities.

"This year, with no spring break, things get a lot more crammed," she said.

School board contacts

Information on how to contact school board members can be found online at www.bemidji.k12.mn.us/District/board.html or by calling 333-3100.

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