by Dennis Dalman – firstname.lastname@example.org
An online survey about the 2013-14 school calendar is now available online for parents, guardians and staff of the Sartell-St. Stephen School District.
The survey, which became available April 4, can be filled out online until noon Monday, April 8.
The reason for the survey is for school-board members to get a good idea of what people expect in the way of a school calendar. The official calendar will be considered and possibly approved at the Monday, April 15 school-board meeting, which will take place at 6 p.m. at St. Stephen City Hall.
The school board has created a district-calendar committee to consider all of the survey input and other factors.
Last year, the board voted to end the traditional spring break in favor of a series of extended weekends. That decision caused a furor, with many parents and students claiming the decision was made too quickly without enough public input. Many also accused the board of poor communication and of ignoring the needs and wishes of parents, students, staff and teachers.
The current board is comprised of several new members who were elected in last November’s election. In their campaigns, those board members vowed to expand communication between the board and those it serves. The school-calendar survey is just one of those new communication efforts.
On April 4, the school district sent out, via email, invitations to take the survey to parents and guardians whose email addresses are maintained in the district’s information-management system (known as “Skyward”). Invitations were also sent to staff members. Hard copies of the surveys were sent home to parents or guardians who do not have email addresses on file at the schools.
What’s needed via the surveys is information about what parents/guardians would like the school calendar to be. Those options are:
1. A series of long vacation weekends in February, March and April.
2. A five-day consecutive break in the spring.
3. A combination of the above two options.
“The information the committee is gathering will be beneficial in supporting the recommendation (that will be) put forth,” said Julie Tripp, committee chair and middle-school principal. “From this feedback, we will be able to provide a data-driven decision for the 2013-14 calendar in combination with a myriad of other factors that go into the creation of an academic calendar.”
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.