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Start of 2017-18 school year pushed back one day

Red Wing students will receive an additional day of summer vacation before beginning the 2017-18 academic year. At Monday evening's meeting, Red Wing School Board set the next school year to start Wednesday, Sept. 6, instead of the traditional Tuesday after Labor Day.

Superintendent Karsten Anderson said the change is due to building projects scheduled over the summer break.

"We want to give our middle school teachers one day after Labor Day to set up their classrooms," Anderson said.

The middle school and school grounds will be undergoing extensive work throughout the summer months, as well as other district buildings. These are funded through the 2016 vote-approved referendum.

The schedule gives work crews multiple days at the end of August, as well as Labor Day weekend for any last-minute construction work, the superintendent said.

"If we need those days, it is built into the schedule, and we can still give teachers that one day to prepare their rooms," Anderson said. "It's very different from what I have ever proposed, but the reason is for any concerns on the construction schedule."

Federal holidays and spring break

The approved calendar shows school will be in session on Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Presidents Day, consistent with many previous academic years.

Per state law, if schools are in session on those federal holidays, a minimum of 60 minutes of patriotic observance or instruction must be observed.

The superintendent provided data on Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day programming offered throughout schools this school year, and programming that is planned for the upcoming Presidents Day.

"I am really proud of what we did offer on those days," Anderson said.

He said an area to do better this Presidents Day and, in subsequent years, is to have a more coordinated plan for MLK Day at the high school.

"I think this year the expectation was to share with the teachers to make sure to provide programming, and that will be different in the future," he said.

Board member Arlen Diercks said, looking at the March calendar, which includes a weeklong spring break, that he opposed the proposed calendar.

This will be the second year in a row that the calendar includes a spring break.

"I look at that week off in March for people that can afford to go somewhere. For a lot of other people, it is an unconventional time to take off for a vacation," Diercks said. "Many people can take more time off near Easter."

Diercks said he was willing to offer an alternative calendar that offered more days off near the Easter holiday, not a separate spring break. He would also not have school in session on Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Presidents Day.

"I believe everything we're doing on the holidays are wonderful programs, but we should do those programs the day before and observe the holidays," Diercks said.

Board Chair Janie Farrar said a survey the board conducted three years ago showed that community members and staff prefer a spring break separate from the Easter holiday.

The board approved the 2017-18 school calendar with a vote of 6-1, with Diercks casting an opposed vote.