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Boyceville considering Saturday high school graduation

By LeAnn R. Ralph

BOYCEVILLE — The Boyceville Board of Education is contemplating whether to change high school graduation from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

A substantial portion of the school board’s 2013-2014 calendar discussion at Monday night’s meeting focused on whether to change the day of the graduation ceremony.

Boyceville High School graduation has traditionally been held on the Friday evening of Memorial Day weekend.

If the change is approved, high school graduation next year would be the following weekend on Saturday afternoon, May 31.

The problem with Friday night graduation is that it conflicts with baseball and track events, said Steve Glocke, middle school/high school principal.

Kevin Sipple, superintendent, said that in the five years he has been with the Boyceville school district, graduation has been in conflict with sporting events all five years.

High school graduation is an important milestone and should be a “stand alone” event that does not conflict with any other school event, he said, adding that he would be in support of a Saturday graduation ceremony.

Nick Kaiser, principal at Tiffany Creek Elementary, is chair of the school staff’s calendar committee.

Part of the committee’s discussion involved when the school year ended and the number of days between high school graduation and the end of the school year, he said.

The calendar committee’s recommendation is to change graduation to May 31. The last day of school would be June 6, 2014, Kaiser said.

Many grandparents drive long distances to attend high school graduation and might prefer to drive during the day for a Saturday ceremony rather than at night following a Friday evening ceremony, said Gail Stark, president of the Board of Education.

School board members Tim Sempf and John Zavody noted that high school graduation has always been on Friday night for as long as they could remember.

Sipple and Glocke pointed out that a survey of the high school students might provide useful information about a preference for Friday night or Saturday afternoon.

Stark suggested holding off on making a decision about the calendar until the Board of Education’s March 4 discussion meeting.

Delaying the decision would give school board members time for further thought and also would give school district residents an opportunity to think about and communicate their preferences, she said.

School district residents are encouraged to contact Board of Education members or the school district office with their preferences for a Friday night graduation ceremony or a Saturday afternoon ceremony.

District residents also are welcome to attend the March 4 meeting.

Other dates

The Boyceville Board of Education spent a fair amount of time talking about other changes in the 2013-2014 calendar as well, such as a three-day spring break in March.

A full five-day spring break has traditionally been scheduled every other year, Kaiser said.

The recommendation from the calendar committee for next year would be to have a three-day vacation in March involving a Thursday, Friday and Monday or a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Kaiser said.

Committee members said that a three-day vacation would be preferable because school would be finished in June just that much sooner, he said.

School board members wondered if it would be better to keep the “short week” of school in one week or to have two short weeks in a row.

In addition, the Board of Education discussed inservice days and whether those days should be half-day early-release or whether they should be full days.

The number of inservice days has increased from 6.5 days to 7.5 days, Kaiser said.

New state laws and new educational initiatives and policies require more in-service days for staff training and for staff planning time, he said.

Other proposed changes to the 2013-2014 calendar include a full week of Thanksgiving vacation for students with inservice days for teachers scheduled on Monday and Tuesday of that week.

A surprising number of students are not in school Thanksgiving week because of travel time for Thanksgiving or because of deer hunting, Sipple and Glocke said.

Other business

In other business, the Board of Education:

• Learned that the control access system (door buzzer) had been put into operation at the high school on the day of the Board of Education meeting and was expected to be operational at Tiffany Creek Elementary within a few days.

• Learned that Friday, June 7, will be a make-up day. The last day of school originally was scheduled for June 6.

• Learned that there was a mistake on the calendar and that March 7 is listed as a “no school” day when, in fact, it is a school day.

• Appointed Erik Evenson, school board member, as the representative to the Vision for Learning Committee, and Tim Sempf, school board member, as the alternate. Vision for Learning is a district-wide survey and planning initiative. Based on input from parents, students, teachers, support staff, community members and business people, Vision for Learning will set district goals for the next ten years. The work is expected to be completed by the middle of June.

• Approved hiring George Lewis for the nine month custodian position.

• Accepted a Target field trip grant in the amount of $700 applied for by Michael Roemhild.

• Accepted a $500 grant from the Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety applied for by Coleen Pember to be used in her classroom at Tiffany Creek Elementary. Pember received the grant for her winning entry on fire safety.

• Accepted a donation of 5,000 board feet of oak and hard maple from Kyle Sutliff, valued at $9,000, for the agriculture and technology education program.