Petersburg’s school board Tuesday approved next year’s calendar after having a discussion about Christmas holiday and spring breaks. The school district has considered a calendar without a spring break week in March and an earlier end to the school year. But that option was not supported this year. The board also approved the first reading of a new policy on payment for school meals.

District staff and administrators proposed a calendar with the start of school next year on August 28th and school ending on the last day in May. The Thanksgiving week has a five day weekend and the Christmas break runs from December 23rd through January 7th. Like other years, spring break will be in the middle of March.
With that calendar, the high school will try to finish the first semester, including final exams before the holiday break. Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter was asked if she thought students would end up missing finals because of holiday travel.

“I don’t know we have a lot of travel in general,” Kludt-Painter said. “It’s something that really has changed here I think in the last 5-6 years in our district. We have just, we have a lot of people that travel, when they’re gonna go.” Kludt-Painter said with finals this year two weeks after Christmas some students missed exams because of travel.
The proposed calendar was one of three possibilities circulated among the staff. Kludt-Painter said there’s been some discussion about eliminating spring break with and early finish. “You know every year we put out an option for no spring break and we try to put in a few longer weekends and then getting out before Memorial weekend. That is gaining popularity actually as time goes on and I think it’s partially because of people’s travel schedules.”

Board member Jay Lister wonder why the district had such a long break over the Christmas and New Year holidays, instead of long weekends throughout the year.

“I think it’s probably because a lot of families have only that time to travel, people that fish all summer and can’t take that time off to travel,” board member Brandi Marohl responded. “So spring break and winter break are important times that they can actually get out of town.”

The board approved the proposed calendar 5-0.

In other decisions, the board approved a new policy in first reading on payment for school lunches and breakfasts. Food service director Carlee Johnson said the payment policy is required under federal regulation.

“We understand that sometimes students have to charge but we’re gonna try to have people pre-pay,” Johnson explained. “Then if they are charging the steps that we’re gonna go through. Basically we don’t want them charging over $20 and it addresses what we’re gonna do.”

Johnson said the schools have started notifying parents for the first meal a student charges. Parents can check meal charge balances through the PowerSchool app. The policy is designed to avoid surprise charges for a student who chooses a school meal over the lunch brought from home. The board voted 5-0 to approve that new policy in first reading and it’ll take one more reading before it goes into effect.