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School board moves forward on 2010-11 calendar

Bemidji Schools is one step closer to having a week-long spring break next year.

The school board voted 5-1 to approve the second reading of the revised 2010-11 school calendar option that would start on Sept. 7 and end on June 9 for students. It would include 172 student days, 182 teacher days and a week-long spring break in March.

Steven H. Johnson voted against the approved calendar option, citing that he does not believe the school calendar should include a week-long spring break.

The issue of whether or not the school district should continue to follow the pattern of having a spring break every other year was brought up at the February school board meeting.

Over the past four years the school district has been operating on a calendar schedule that includes a spring break every other year.

At a listening session before the school board meeting on Monday, Joe Czapiewski, adviser of the Bemidji Youth Advisory Commission, spoke to school board members John Pugleasa and Ann Long Voelkner asking them to consider approving a calendar that will end the school year before or on the day of the Youth Rally.

The most popular event for the BYAC is the June 7 Youth Rally, an annual event for youth on the Lake Bemidji waterfront that features music, refreshments and socializing. Hundreds of area youth have attended the youth rally in recent years.

"It would be best if the youth could attend the event and not have any conflicts, such as school the next day or having to miss school to attend the event," Czapiewski said. "We have had a great relationship with the school board and I'm sure we'll continue to work together to accomplish good things."

Superintendent Jim Hess told the school board that during a June 7 Youth Rally several years ago that took place before school ended, several students were OK'd to be dismissed from school to attend the event and it wasn't a problem.

Each year the school board sets a school calendar for the following year, based on initial recommendations from a committee made up of leadership from the Bemidji Education Association and the district.

The second 2010-11 school calendar option would have the school year beginning on Sept. 7 and ending June 7. It includes a week-long spring break, 172 student days and 180 teacher days (which includes equivalent of 2 days or 600 minutes in Professional Learning Communities throughout the year).

Hess said the BEA leadership has not accepted this option yet, though their reasons have not been cited as of yet.

"We know that professional learning communities work," Hess said. "They are good ways to help teachers learn and grow, but we don't have any money this year to spend on PLCs, so we tried to fold it into the calendar to make that possible."

The third option would have the school year starting Sept. 7 and ending June 6. This option includes only a four-day spring break, 172 student days and a total of 182 teacher days.