NORTHFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) – The Northfield School Board will discuss potential changes to the 2013-2014 school calendar Monday night at the high school — a proposition that has many parents more than concerned.

The board will allow discussion of the “balanced” school year calendars at the 7 p.m. meeting at Northfield High School.

Community members say they were alerted of the possible changes over the holiday break, after the district proposed an earlier start date, a full week off in October and two full weeks off in December. The proposal would move the start date to Aug. 13, with the school year ending on May 21.

Sara Connelly has two children in the school district.

“It’s just so early in August. It’s one thing to start before Labor Day, but another thing to go all the way back to Aug. 13,” Connelly said.

Connelly says many kids who are in 4H won’t be able to present projects at the State Fair, and many families have already planned vacations in August.

“Some people with their jobs have to plan their vacations ahead of time,” she said.

The board says the proposal doesn’t add any school days to the calendar.

In a letter to parents dated Jan. 11, Superintendent Chris Richardson says the changes would help create a more balanced school year, in an attempt to align instructional days with holiday breaks. The full letter can be seen here.

Richardson also says kids will have more in-class days before mid-April when they take standardized tests. The tests are needed for graduation and determine which schools will be cited as underachieving.

“It’s important for kids to have as much time as possible to prepare to demonstrate proficiency in the state standards,” Richardson said.

A petition, called “Save Summer – Just Say ‘No’ To School In August,” has been created, as well as a Facebook page to fight the proposed changes. Parents say they’re concerned with the earlier start because it cuts into summer vacations. They also say the longer breaks can be difficult to juggle with work schedules.

The school board will vote on the issue at the Jan. 28 board meeting.

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