Mitchell School District students will have their summer break begin slightly earlier than expected, the Mitchell Board of Education determined Wednesday.
Rather than making up two of the year's five snow days on May 28 and 29, the final day of school for the district will be Friday, May 24, ending the year before Memorial Day weekend, the board decided during its meeting at the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy.
That Friday will make up one of the school year's snow days, and two others were built into the year's schedule. The number of snow days to make up this year is greater than in any of the past 19 years, but the district had still had school in session for enough hours under state requirements to not be required to make up the other two days missed.
The decision was made in part to keep the dates for end-of-semester tests the same, to avoid students with vacations planned immediately after Memorial Day weekend having to make up the tests earlier, rather than having almost every student in a class take the test at the same time. Semester tests at Mitchell High School are held during the last two and a half days of the school year.
"Those would be days where, I feel, you'd have a better opportunity to teach content than at the end of the school year, where you're trying to get semester tests in and have a three-day break to come back and take six tests is hard for students and teachers," board member Lacey Musick said.
The board voted unanimously to end the school year on May 24. Prior to the board's vote on the issue, board President Deb Olson expressed concern that nine-month classified employees would be paid less if the additional two make-up days were not added to the year's calendar.
"If we don't have school, they don't get paid for those days. So that's two less days that they would receive a salary," she said.
Multiple board members suggested possible ways to accommodate makeup days earlier in future school years, such as by starting the school year earlier or making up snow days on days that students would normally have off school around Easter, but at Superintendent Joe Graves' suggestion, the board decided not to make changes to the district's calendar for the 2019-20 school year.
The consent agenda includes the following personnel changes:
• New certified hire: Ryker Kreutzfeldt, math teacher and ninth-grade boys basketball coach, Mitchell High School.
• New classified hire: Andrew Everson, head wrestling coach.
In other matters, the board:
• Recognized Mitchell Middle School's Renee Berg, who was recently named South Dakota's Art Educator of the Year.
• Approved a tentative agreement with the Mitchell Education Association regarding the 2017-20 master agreement. The agreement replaces a section about salary increases for the 2017-18 school year with language specifying that teachers who have earned a year of experience during the current school year will receive a $1,275 increase per FTE in salary for the 2019-20 school year.
• Accepted a bid from Mueller Lumber to replace the freezer/cooler in the middle school and construct a wall on the school's south side. Mueller Lumber's $169,500 bid was selected over those from C. Eagle Construction LLC and WS Construction Management LLC, which bid $174,910 and $180,254.53, respectively.
• Approved a two-year, no-interest, $300,000 loan agreement between Mitchell Technical Institute and Central Electric Cooperative, which will fund various capital projects at MTI.
• Approved upon second reading a revision to the board's tobacco policy, adding minor changes that include the addition of language specific to vaping.