No more guessing games

NEW ULM — The New Ulm School Board looked to clear up confusion as it approved the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school calendars at their meeting Thursday.

Superintendent Sean Koster said both calendars have been discussed by the relevant committees. Feedback was also sought from parents of students and staff to see what they wanted out of future calendars.

“We wanted to be as consistent as possible with our calendars,” Koster said. “So both of them mirror each other.”

Koster said this is different from calendars in past years, which would see changes from year to year and flip back and forth on several issues.

“The calendars from previous years have bounced back and forth from start time to end time to spring breaks or not spring breaks,” he said, “They’ve alternated on a lot of those items. What I wanted to do was have consistency all the way through.”

The calendars for the next two school years will see school start after Labor Day and end on the first week of June. There will be two weeks set aside for winter break, and another for spring break.

Koster said a major reason for the schedule change is creating a sense of familiarity and understanding, which was hampered in the past with yearly schedule changes. He hopes it will help keep students in school as much as possible.

“Our parents are going to know when they’re able to take vacations,” Koster said. “They’re going to be able to look forward. [We’re] making sure they can plan those without questioning ‘When is it going to be next year?’ There’s a lot of questions in the community about ‘When does school start?’ and ‘Do we have a spring break this year?'”

By opting to keep spring break on the schedule and putting winter break at two weeks, Koster said he hopes it is sufficient time for both students and teachers.

“It gives time and space to educators and kids to have a mental break from school because school is taxing on everyone,” he said. “There’s a lot of emotion involved in being a student and an educator. We want to provide space and time for people to have a lot of mental breaks for everybody’s mental health and well-being.”

Two factors will still need to be finalized moving forward. Koster said conference dates still need to be added, but should be relatively ordinary. A new change would be the addition of more professional development days, related to the passing of the READ Act. Koster said that determination will be made by the school’s literacy team.

Board member Denny Waloch thanked Koster for the hard work put into the new schedules, saying he had heard positive feedback from school staff.

“I like to thank you guys for the work,” Waloch said. “I know I’ve heard from a lot of staff overwhelmingly excited and positive about the calendar. It’s good to hear from our staff.”

Waloch made the motion to approve the calendars and Board member Jonathan Schiro seconded the motion. The next study session will be Thursday, March 14 and the next regular board meeting will be Thursday, March 28.


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