With the North Branch Area Public Schools School Board set to host a series of public meetings about the district’s four-day week, the North Branch City Council felt its Monday meeting was a good time to start discussing how the school board’s decision on the matter could affect the city.
Mayor Ron Lindquist brought up the issue, noting he’d like to know whether or not the four-day week is affecting the growth of the town.
City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad addressed that query.
“We haven’t had any builders come to us and say they’re not coming because of the four-day week,” she said.
She also noted she checked with the North Branch Police Department, and the department told her there has not been an increase in crime on Mondays when students are not in school.
Council member Theresa Furman said the four-day might be making learning tougher for students.
“It seems the more kids are not in school, they seem to lose more,” she said. “Teachers have to work twice as hard to get them to remember.”
New council member Trent Jensen, who served on the NBAPS School Board last year, said he doesn’t have empirical evidence the four-day week has affected learning, and that “test scores are good and rising.”
However, he did note some officials in other districts have the perception NBAPS is the “poor kid” among area school districts, and “sometimes perception is much greater than effect.”
Jensen added he’s talked to as many people who like the four-day week as those who dislike it.
Council member Kathy Blomquist noted the school board is conducting surveys of district residents, and she’d like those surveys to be completed before the city further addresses the matter.
Lindquist said he’d like to talk to area realtors to get their perception about whether or not the four-day week is affecting home sales in North Branch.
“I can’t prove it, but I feel (the four-day week) keeps families from coming in here,” he said.
The NBAPS School Board will discuss the four-day and solicit public comment on the following meeting dates:
• Feb. 14, 6 p.m.
• Feb. 20, 8:30 a.m.
• Feb. 28, 6 p.m.
All meetings will be held in room No. 126 of the North Branch Area Education Center.
Other council actions
In other news, the council:
• Named the Post Review the city’s legal newspaper.
• Voted to deny an applicant’s request to own chickens on less than five acres of residential property within the city. The city’s planning commission will address the entire animal ordinance at an upcoming meeting.
• Accepted a donation of parking lot lights from the North Branch Ball Association. The lights would be used at Harder Park. Nate Sondrol, the city’s GIS specialist, said the cost to install the lights and poles could be about $4,000, depending on where in the park they would be located.
• Appointed Bob Streeter to fill a vacancy on the city’s Economic Development Authority.