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Future planning in focus: School board talks funding, school calendar

The Red Wing School Board is preparing for a changed future. At the Dec. 4 meeting, the board continued discussions on the district's expiring operating levy as planning continues for community outreach regarding the district's funding.

"We have not decided as a board if we're having a referendum," board member Steve Anderson said. "I don't think there is anybody here that thinks we wouldn't be going out again in November."

Superintendent Karsten Anderson said the message to voters will be much clearer with a 2018 vote, as the operating levy will expire at the end of that school year.

"Next November, if it doesn't pass, then we will have to make significant cuts," Karsten Anderson said.

With that operating levy's timeline, Karsten Anderson said he feels more comfortable presenting hard facts about potential cuts.

The board will look to declare its intent to hold a vote in 2018 at the Dec. 18 meeting.

2018-2019 school calendar

A draft calendar for the 2018-19 school year was discussed by the board. Two key items on the proposed calendar are a five-day spring break in early March and a one-day delayed start to the school year. This fall, students began school the Wednesday after Labor Day instead of the traditional Tuesday. The change was to accommodate summer construction at Twin Bluff Middle School and Burnside Elementary School. The Wednesday start will be necessary again, Karsten Anderson said, as summer construction will shift to Sunnyside Elementary School and Red Wing High School in 2018.

Several board members reported receiving positive feedback from staff regarding the prep day before students return to classrooms. Board chair Janie Farrar said she would like to see the board receive feedback on potentially continuing the Wednesday after Labor Day start date for students.

"That would be a big shift," she said.

Board member Arlen Diercks agreed.

"I think it would be wise to look at it," Diericks said.

He added that the extra day for staff would help address busing and scheduling concerns for students and parents.

Karsten Anderson said the Wednesday start was well received by district office staff and teachers.

"It's awkward for parents and possibly students, so we need to weigh the importance of each," he said.

The 2018-19 school year calendar will be presented for approval at the next board meeting.

Farrar to leave chair post

Board chair Janie Farrar told fellow board members she will not seek another year as chair. Having served as board chair for three consecutive years, Farrar said she wishes to focus on other committee work.

"We have a lot of people on this board that are ready to take that next step of leadership," Farrar said.

The board's next meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19, at City Hall.