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How was the Fillmore Central early start?

Fri, Sep 18th, 2009
Posted in Education

Over the summer, the Fillmore Central School Board approved a major change to the school calendar for the 2009-2010 year. Due to a major project being done at the middle school, Superintendent and K-8 Principal Myrna Luehmann recommended starting the school year two weeks early. The earlier dismissal in the spring would allow more time in the summer for the project to be completed.

The $1.95 million project will replace the old heating and ventilation system that has been in the middle school building since 1959. It is a project that Luehmann says has been "on the list" for many years. The school will be getting bids on the work this winter and the project should start right after school is completed on May 21.

The school year started for Fillmore Central students and faculty on August 24. High School Principal Heath Olstad mentioned some concerns people had about the heat. "We got lucky this year with the weather," he said.

According to Olstad, attendance was great the first two weeks, with only a few students missing days because of the State Fair or planned vacations. The families of those students were good about letting the school know and making arrangements.

The staff had to get things ready a little earlier than normal as well, and Olstad said they did a great job. "I think the kids were ready to come back," said Olstad. "We were very pleased with the beginning of the school year."

Luehmann actually had a few parents ask her if school could start that early every year. However, in Minnesota, it is a law that schools must start after Labor Day. Fillmore Central received permission to start early from the Department of Education. A construction project that is more than $400,000 qualified the district to change their calendar.

According to Luehmann, staff at the elementary and middle schools was also good the first two weeks, and parents were very supportive. The staff pulled together to get things ready for the new year. There have been questions about the project being completed by next fall, and Luehmann is sure that it will not be a problem.

"We have to get a time line from them about where they will be in the building at what time, so we know what rooms to clean out," said Luehmann. "We may have to move the district office to the elementary building for a couple of months. And after they finish, we still have to get the rooms ready for school to start again."

Luehmann believes getting the project done will help save the district money on energy costs, as well as repairs that are being done to the old heating system. "I think it's going to be very cost-effective for us," said Luehmann.

To pay for the project, the school is using Alternative Facilities Bonds, which are available to a school district for one-time use only. The board felt this much-needed project was a good way to make use of the program. The program will spread the levying money over a period of time, having a low impact on taxes.

Olstad commented that getting out on May 21 will be very nice for the students as the heat and the end of the year make kids anxious to get out for the summer.

"I think the kids were ready to come back," said Luehmann. "We're very pleased to already have a few weeks under our belt, when other schools are just starting."

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