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School Board selects school calendar for next year

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

Weighing diverse input from students, teachers and the community, the Bemidji School Board selected on Monday night a calendar with no spring break for the next school year.

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The board considered two proposed calendars for the 2007-08 school year. After a tie vote on a motion to adopt Calendar B, which offered a spring break in March, the board voted 5-1 to adopt Calendar A, which does not offer a spring break.

Board member Ann Long Voelkner voted against adopting Calendar A in the second vote. In the first vote, Long Voelkner and board members Gene Dillon and Bill Faver voted in favor of Calendar B, while board chair John Pugleasa and board members Steven H. Johnson and Carol L. Johnson voted against it.

Both calendars considered by the board showed school starting after Labor Day and high school graduation set for May 24. Calendar A ends in May, while Calendar B ended in June.

Over the past few weeks, the board has sought input from students, teachers and the community on the two calendars.

"We've been asking people how they feel about the school calendar," Superintendent Jim Hess said Monday night.

He said Calendar A received 707 votes total and Calendar B received 1,008 votes total in three different surveys conducted on the two calendars.

An online community survey conducted by the school district favored Calendar A with 428 votes, Hess said. He said Calendar B received 385 online votes.

Meanwhile, Hess said, the Bemidji Education Association's survey showed that 129 teachers favored Calendar A and 171 teachers favored Calendar B.

Of 602 freshmen, sophomores and juniors surveyed at Bemidji High School, 25 percent favored Calendar A while 75 percent favored Calendar B, said Kristin McKinnon, who is a student representative on the board.

Cody Graham, who is also a student representative on the board, said, "They really just like the whole spring break part of it."

At the high school, McKinnon added, even students who don't travel during spring break appreciate having a break from the day-to-day life at school.

Dillon originally offered a motion to adopt Calendar B.

"I think it's a good calendar," said Dillon, noting that the majority of the votes from the three surveys favored it.

He added that he believes spring breaks benefit families by giving students the opportunity to spend more time with their parents, especially in split-family situations.

Pugleasa, Steven H. Johnson and Carol L. Johnson, however, expressed some concerns about having a spring break, including the need for child care for students whose parents would work during that time.

"Day care is a real issue," said Carol L. Johnson, adding that some day cares close during spring break.

She also noted that some families take winter vacations rather than vacations during spring break.

The board discussed the possibility of having a spring break every other year. However, it did not make a decision on that idea Monday night.

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