Board to allow feedback on early release

By Bryan Richardson

The USD 383 school board will hold a hearing regarding early release for Manhattan High seniors at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday at Robinson Education Center before the start of its regular meeting.

During this time, community members will have a chance to speak to the board about their feelings related to senior early release.

At the school board’s winter retreat in February, board members suggested requiring that students meet certain criteria to be released early. The criteria might include students taking on-campus college classes or working.

Current policy states that MHS seniors, with parent approval, have the option of not taking classes during first period; seventh period; first and second periods; sixth and seventh periods; or first and seventh periods during the second semester if they would still be on track for graduation.

Last spring, 120 seniors took two periods of late arrival and/or early release, and 79 seniors took a single period for late arrival or early release, representing 51 percent of the school’s 383 seniors.

The board already has spent this school year discussing swapping elementary and secondary school start times — which it ultimately decided against — and allowing open lunch at MHS, and it will discuss the schedule for MHS and elementary schools in the coming months.

The board will have a final approval vote on the new open-lunch policy Wednesday. At its Oct. 17 meeting, board members voted that sophomores would no longer be allowed to leave school for lunch beginning next school year. The vote was 5-2 with Walt Pesaresi and Pete Paukstelis dissenting; they advocated extending closed lunch for all students starting next school year.

The board also will consider a recommendation by the administration to request proposals for a MHS East Campus facility analysis.

This request is taking place based on the recognition that MHS East needed more work than was included in the $97.5 million bond issue for construction and renovation of the district’s buildings. Many elements of the renovation project were removed during the planning stages of the bond issue to reduce the cost.

The residual problems with the building include substantial amounts of asbestos remaining, drainage around the building, the building’s first floor and foundation, and the HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems.

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