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Fairmont Area School Board may shift graduation day

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont School Board held a work session with elementary and high school principals Tuesday to discuss school schedules, graduation day and a modified contract for the school resource officer.

No action was taken on any of the topics discussed.

The first topic centered on potentially changing graduation day, traditionally set for the first Sunday of June. Board member Nicole Green summarized the issue.

“When you look at the calendars with next year, because you can’t start before Labor Day, school then won’t start until Sept. 8,” she said. “It’s not anything new or earth-shattering, but that really puts a pinch on the number of days. It’s been a tradition in Fairmont to always have graduation on the first Sunday [of June], and the question is do we have to keep it that way, is that the most beneficial?

“So we were just looking at calendar options and if the change is made it needs to be made very soon so people have time to plan for it. I don’t know that it will be; there were days at the end of the calendar that were proposed prior to the first Sunday in June that were designated as snow make-up days. We’ll meet more to talk about it, but the easy fix is to just take those four days the first week of June prior to graduation and just put those in as spring break.”

Another topic discussed was the potential implementation of a career pathways program at the high school, presented by high school principals Alex Schmidt and Jake Tietje.

“What we’ve done is we haven’t changed any of our course offerings; we’ve taken our current course offerings and organized them in a way for students to see them more appropriately,” Schmidt said. “We’ve created a wheel with six different areas which are what the Minnesota Department of Education calls career clusters. Within each of these clusters is, essentially, a pathway for students to explore options of learning.

“So if we take a look at the business management cluster, what we did for our staff was have them take each of these pathways, write a descriptor and add classes that would be beneficial in this career cluster.”

Other career clusters include agriculture; food and natural resources; arts and communication; engineering and manufacturing; health science technology; and human services. Each cluster includes a list of pathway required courses, as well as a list of recommended courses.

Finally, the board talked about the need for an updated school resource officer contract. One of the topics of the discussion focused on the need to have an officer on school grounds before the current time of 8 a.m.

“Right now, the officer’s contract is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” said Superintendent Joe Brown. “And we really need a person here by 7:30 because that’s when kids are coming here. When you look at the issues, many times things that happen at schools happen right away in the morning, so to not have an SRO here until 8 a.m. is not good.”

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