RED WING -- Approving not one but two Jefferson School purchase agreements could happen Feb. 3.

Superintendent Karsten Anderson shared progress updates at Tuesday’s Red Wing School Board meeting.

Anderson announced a plan to create two separate purchase agreements. One agreement was for $200,000 between Red Wing School District and Jim Patterson for the building. The other was for $100,000 between the district and the city for the park/green space. Patterson and a donor then will give $100,000 to the city and, in the end, the district would get $300,000 and the city would get 0.7 acre park land at no additional cost.

On Friday, Anderson told the Republican Eagle that Patterson had signed. Now the City Council will consider the matter Monday, Jan. 27.

Anderson says having two separate purchase agreements makes it easier to give the land directly to the city.

“It’s frustrating for all of us to take a little extra time to make sure this is done right, but I actually feel better now about the arrangements, because I think it will be crystal clear as far as the school district getting the park parcel to the city, because it will be in a separate purchase agreement,” Anderson said Tuesday.

If the City Council approves its part of the deal, the School Board could place it on its Feb. 3 agenda for approval.

Both purchase agreements will close simultaneously and are contingent on one another, Anderson said.

Calendar and schedule updates

The board approved the school calendar for the 2020-21 year at Tuesday’s meeting. School will start Monday, Aug. 31, which is a week before Labor Day.

“We can do that because we will have at least $400,000 worth of construction projects in the summer of 2021, that enables us to claim a waiver from the state,” Anderson said.

If students started after Labor Day, kept a weeklong March Spring Break and had graduation fall on the first Friday in June, students would have very few days off during the spring and teachers would have to cram most of their training at the beginning of the school year.

“It sure is nice from the student perspective, the parent perspective and the teacher perspective and the employees perspective that we have periodic three-day weekends,” Anderson said.

Finally the board voted on the issue of the Red Wing High School schedule. Some adjustments have been made since Republican Eagles last publication on the topic, including an earlier start and finish time, slightly shorter block times, an added eighth grade lunch period and a section for clubs on Wednesdays.

David Scheerer, student representative, expressed disapproval of the schedule, pointing out that the schedule is inconsistent and confusing. Research also suggests that early start times harm students.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high school start at 8:30 a.m. or later to allow students the time they need to sleep. Red Wing High School currently starts at 8:01 a.m. The schedule approved Tuesday calls for a 7:45 a.m. start time Monday, Thursday and Friday, and 8 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

The proposed start times could be adjusted to begin later, but the whole schedule would have to shift, which could impact after-school sports.

The updated schedule allows the district to keep their one-tier bus system. Bus pick-up times would remain the same throughout the week. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays students would have more downtime before school starts, according to Principal George Nemanich.

The board unanimously approved the schedule which will begin in the 2020-21 year.

The next Red Wing School Board meeting is at 6 p.m. Feb. 3 at Red Wing City Hall.

School board pay increases

At the board’s Jan. 13 workshop, members discussed their salaries for 2020 and came up with six options. Recently elected Chair Pam Roe presented the options at the Jan. 21 meeting: no pay increase, $200 increase, $400 increase, $650 increase, $1,000 increase or $1,400 increase on member’s current base salary. Many of the options included an additional $30 per meeting for the Teacher Negotiations Committee and the Non-Certified Negotiations Committee.

Anderson referenced school board salary data from the Minnesota School Boards Association comparing Red Wing to other Minnesota school districts. He added that the data list was brought forth during the organizational meeting in early January.

“Clearly we are in the lower portion of that list,” Anderson said.

Board members approved increasing the base pay by $400 and adding the extra $30 payment per meeting to those serving on the two negotiations committee. The new board salaries are:

$3,700 - chair

$3,500 - clerk

$3,000 - directors

This is an estimated additional $3,880 for the year.

“It's not about making money, it's about putting the time in to do the job that needs to be done here,” Vice Chair Arlen Diercks said. “There are sacrifices board members have to make, whether it's hiring babysitters to take care of their kids at home or it’s having a spouse take a vacation day so they can go to the MSBA conference or whatever it is.”

The board has also discussed paying members per committee meeting attended. It was decided that the negotiations committee would be a trial for this idea.

The increased pay could be more of an incentive for people to run for School Board, according to some of the board members.