RED WING -- The window to begin setting high school students’ learning plans for 2021-2022 is now, Principal George Nemanich said.

The School Board unanimously agreed on Monday, Feb. 1. Students will start the process in two weeks and then register the week of Feb. 22. Staff then will spend part of spring break -- March 1-5 -- starting to determine potential enrollment numbers, class interest and then related instruction needs.

“If we need to reduce staff, we need to know that by April 1,” Nemanich said.

He pointed to two things looming in the background: finances and COVID-19.

Earlier in the meeting Holly Tauer, board member and chair of the finance committee, alerted the board that March discussion likely will include cuts of $2.2 million. Declining enrollment -- namely the state funding and levy monies tied to each student -- plus the pandemic are factors.

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Nemanich also eluded to future COVID-19 case numbers rising and pushing high schoolers back to distance learning. Imagine having to enroll all these kids online instead of in person, he said. RWHS held early registration last year, he noted, and he is sure glad it did.

Nemanaich asked and received approval to proceed with class options and registration. Options might include single-quarter electives rather than semester-long electives.

“It will just give us a lot of time to make good decisions -- what we can offer and things like that,” he said.

Also potentially on the table for discussion next year or in the near future, he said, is something he called a shift to standards-based grading. Students could be graded more on assessments than homework. He acknowledged this could be controversial.

“The grade is based on their knowledge, as opposed as their work ethic,” he said

“And that is a whole can of worms for another day,” Board Chair Pam Roe said.