The Braham School Board approved next year’s school calendar without moving the back-to-school teacher workshop days to earlier in August as previously discussed.

During the school board meeting on Dec. 20, school board members discussed their thoughts on the proposed timeline for the 2022-2023 school calendar that would have the back-to-school teacher workshop days being held one week earlier than normal. For the 2021-2022 school year, the workshop days were held on Aug. 30, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

“I will make the motion that we approve that calendar on a one-year trial basis to see how it works, then re-evaluate for the following year,” School Board Member Mike Thompson said.

Board Chair Steven Eklund confirmed Thompson’s motion was to move the back-to-school workshop days to one week earlier than normal.

After Thompson’s motion failed, Eklund said the board has to make a decision at the meeting to move forward. Following more discussion, Eklund made the motion that the workshop days stay on the same schedule as last year and the rest of the school calendar for 2022-2023 be approved as is. The motion was approved unanimously, with the teacher workshop days to be held Aug. 29-31.

During the November school board meeting, Superintendent Ken Gagner explained why the change in the back-to-school workshop days was being considered.

“The district has proposed a calendar change for the 2022-2023 school year which would move the three workshop days for employees one week earlier — the start of school for students does not change. This change is being proposed to help the district better prepare for the first day of school, allowing all departments time to make adjustments to ensure students receive the best experience possible on that Tuesday after Labor Day. Staying with the older model, the district has basically one day between the end of workshop and open house to make any needed corrections, etc.,” Gagner said.

This left some teachers concerned about the possible change, including fifth grade teacher Aitor Leniz. Leniz attended the November meeting to express his thoughts about the possible change to next year’s school calendar.

“It’s not beneficial to us. One of the things that had been mentioned was that it helps with preparedness, and I fully believe our staff is prepared every year to come into the school year on the date that we already do our workdays,” Leniz said.

Teachers felt not only would this change affect their plans, but other staff as well.

“It will also hamper the custodial aspect of things, because this will require them to have things done earlier than normal, which is, unfortunately, already a tough asking to get to,” Leniz said.

At the Dec. 20 school board meeting, Eklund shared his opinion on the subject.

“I had said before, and I shared this with Ken (Gagner), I think it’s a move in the right direction and I think in the long run it’s the best for kids, but I don’t know at this point with all the COVID going on and what the staff’s gone through in the last two years that it’s a good time to do it,” Eklund said.

School Board Member Katie Kunshier agreed with Eklund.

“Well, maybe the motion can be made that it be tabled until next year with teachers having a whole year and then some to consider this change to put this in place. Because I agree that with the morale being where it’s at and the stress the staff’s under right now, adding this to their plate doesn’t help,” Kunshier said.

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