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Pine River-Backus School Board sets revised calendar

The Pine River-Backus School Board approved a revised 2013-14 school calendar to make up for school days lost to cold or snowy weather at the regular meeting Monday, Feb. 24.

The revised calendar extends the school year to June 4. Earlier ideas for making up lost days included scheduling school makeup days during spring break. Some board members, teachers and residents agreed with that idea, but Superintendent Cathy Bettino said there was nearly a 50 percent split on the subject.

During the public comments portion of the school board meeting, teacher Steve Bergerson recommended making up days during spring break rather than after the scheduled MCA test.

“It’s always been in our district what’s best for kids, not what’s good for kids. The revised calendar as proposed is probably good for kids. I don’t think it’s best for kids,” Bergerson said.

“To me, adding them to the end is the most effective for everyone involved. Not just for the good of our students, but for the good of the parents and the good of our staff,” said school board chair Sandra Poferl.

“Going in June is not what is best for the kids. We don’t run the school for the personnel. It’s the kids that we are concerned about. I think that’s really important,” said school board member Jim Coffland.

Board member Chris Cunningham said his opinion on the calendar was unpopular. He would like to see the school year start earlier and end later every year. He also questioned the logic behind why students have certain holidays off, like President’s Day, but not Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Veterans Day.

He also questioned emphasizing the importance of MCA tests now, if the school is going to insist at later times that the MCA is not the only valid measurement of student development. He said there is a problem if five missed days significantly impact the school’s MCA test results.

In the end, Cunningham and board member Jason Marcum voted against the revised calendar. Board member Garny Gaffey was absent. All other board members voted in approval.

The board also discussed a 2014-15 school calendar. Some discussion ensued regarding shortening winter break by starting it Dec. 24. When discussed, those present did not offer any opposition to the later start.

In other business, the board:

• Learned the new after-school snack program connected to educational enrichment programs has been popular with students as well as financially successful.

• Learned the ALC has helped 600 students to meet credit requirements and graduate from PR-B.

• Learned student enrollment is up throughout the district.

• Accepted the resignation of high school science teacher Richard Larson and high school English teacher Jean Grev, both effective at the end of the 2013-14 school year. Board members voiced their appreciation for those teachers’ years of service.

Travis Grimler can be reached at Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @PEJ_Travis.