Petersburg’s youngest students will be getting summer vacation a little earlier this year. The district’s school board agreed that the Stedman Elementary School should close four days early—on May 30th–to allow for a renovation project to begin.

The school board met Monday night and unanimously supported the change after hearing a project update.

“We are ready, ready for it,” said School Principal Erica Kludt-Painter. “We are in the throes of many details to organize for this renovation project which is going to start in the school year.”

The $2.3 million project will replace the school’s exterior walls and windows. Contractors will arrive to town the first week in April and set up on the office end of the building under the covered play area.

Kludt-Painter says they’ll start work on the outside of the building first.

“We’re going to start on the backside of the building, near the library, on the old pool lobby end and kind of work around the building to down to the kindergarten end,” Kludt-Painter said. “So, that means that the office will be moved to the other end of the building for the remainder of the school year and that entrance will be closed off. We’ll have a new entrance for a while by the kindergarten classrooms, we’ll have different bus drops offs and pick-ups, It’s going to be very exciting. We’re super, super excited about it.”

The early release would allow the project to be done in one summer instead of two and would give teachers a week to clear out their rooms.

“All the classrooms have to, obviously, box up and organize anything on the outside walls, move everything to the inside walls and clear that space because there’s also lighting work being done,” Kludt-Painter said. “I mean you think, siding. . .they’re re-doing the siding. No, they’re RE-DOING THE SIDING and the walls and the heating and the windows. It’s all great and it really is going to be great when it’s done but it’s huge, it’s a big project.”

The new schedule would release students four days earlier and one day short of the minimum 170 days of student contact that’s required by state law. Administrators chose to go with four days because it puts the last day on a Friday.

Superintendent, Rob Thomason, explained it to the school board.

“So, really what we’re asking permission to do was modify the existing calendar to the state minimum which would have been literally a ‘no brainer’,” Thomason said, “but what we also wanted to do was to move back one day to 169 days rather than having youngsters having to come on Monday for a very short day just to count a day of school.”

Now all that’s left is for the state to approve the plan in writing. Education Commissioner, Mike Hanley, has already verbally agreed to the change.

Board member, John Bringhurst, asked that the board get an update on the project at every meeting so that everyone can keep tabs on how it’s going.