Stillwater school year to end a day early to accommodate move

Summer vacation will come a day early for students at Stillwater Area Public schools. The school board voted March 9 to move the last day of school from June 1 to May 31.

The date change is to allow a day for teachers and staff who will be moving to new buildings or classrooms, said Bob McDowell, executive director of learning and innovation. With sixth-graders moving to the current junior high buildings, ninth-graders moving to the high school, programs moving to different buildings and the plan to close three elementary schools, McDowell told the board that no building in the district will be unaffected by teacher and staff changes.

“We are moving everything in the district to a different spot when it comes to thinking about the magnitude for next year,” McDowell said. “As you can imagine, this is a gigantic undertaking.”

According to the teacher and staff contracts, the last staff day during the school year is Friday, June 2 — grading day. Moving the last student day to Wednesday, May 31, gives teachers and staff an additional day to finish packing their classroom materials for the move to a new building.

“We have 250 to 300 people moving within the district,” Superintendent Denise Pontrelli said. “We have to think of systems and ways to do that quickly and efficiently and with the least impact on kids and, most of all, on our teachers.”

McDowell told the board that the building principals are currently working with the teachers and staff to begin the moving process with a material inventory and encouraging staff to consider what materials can be recycled, given to other teachers or thrown away.

“Think of how you would start moving your house,” McDowell said.

McDowell noted that the school district has not had a snow day yet this year, and that the calendar has some additional time built in to accommodate for snow days.

McDowell said the building principals will work with staff who may need additional help, and that the intent is to give staff information early so they can plan.

Board member Sarah Stivland asked if it would be possible to bring the staff back during the summer for an additional day to pack and move. McDowell explained that June 2 is the last day of the staff contract, and the district would need to negotiate an additional day of work for the employees. He asked finance director Kristen Hoheisel if she knew how much it would cost to bring the staff back for one day.

“Daily rate? It would be really expensive,” Hoheisel said.

The board voted 6-1 — with Stivland dissenting — to move the last day of school to May 31.

Contact Alicia Lebens at [email protected]