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Osakis Voices: School stays busy in summer

I am often asked, as the school year ends, what I will do with all the time off in the summer.

Some people do not realize that a number of school staff employees work at the school year-round. Obviously, students have a summer break between school years. Members of the teaching staff and paraprofessionals who are not engaged in summer education programs have a break between school years. Many teachers utilize some time during the summer to attend various professional development opportunities to help them enhance their student's classroom experiences during the school year. Teachers often will attend conferences established by the Minnesota Department of Education and other various educational organizations.

Food service personnel do have a break during the summer from preparing and serving our students meals. Many of these employees work other jobs during the summer. Some of our secretarial staff have extended time away from the school site. They usually work two to three weeks before the school year end and after the school year begins. There are many duties for our secretarial or clerical staff. Grades, academic information, records and details from the completed school year must be finalized and end-of-the-year reports submitted. The supplies, resources and materials for the upcoming year must be ordered, received, organized and distributed. There are enrollment of incoming students and other student record issues that must be addressed. Classes for the upcoming year must be scheduled, class lists finalized, students and parents notified and other planning activities completed.

Although students are away, we have a significant number of people who work the entire year. The custodial, grounds, and transportation staff are very much involved in work over the summer as all of our buildings, classrooms, grounds and vehicles undergo extensive cleaning. Cleaning and maintenance crews move through all of our sites to clean and repair facilities for the upcoming school year. Our custodial, grounds and transportation staff do a wonderful job to ensure everything is ready for students and staff for the beginning of the school year.

In the district office, all of the normal year-round functions must be completed. We have many of the same, regular responsibilities that occur monthly — payroll, insurance, bills, school board meetings, calls, other meetings, appointments, vehicle schedules, building schedules and other activities. Many of the duties are just the same in the summer as they are through the school year.

Administratively, we have work to complete from the previous year while planning for the upcoming year. A budget based on revenues and expenditures must be developed by district staff and adopted by the school board before June 30. This budget may be adjusted throughout the year, based on total enrollment of students, and various expenses that may come up. There is often a considerable amount of hiring to complete along with training issues. Reviewing schedules, overseeing summer programs, organizing various areas of the schools sites and working with custodial crews to make space/physical changes to the sites, and other issues occur. There are also a number of reports that must be completed and sent to the Minnesota Department of Education for their records and/or approval.

Summer is actually a very busy part of the year. Much of the work is planning, but there are a lot of regular tasks that are ongoing and need to be completed during the summer just as other parts of the school year. Whatever position a person holds in a school setting, there are roles and responsibilities that need to be completed throughout the year, including the summer. The bottom line for us as educators is to ensure our number one priority that everything is ready for our students to start their school year in the most positive way possible so that we can all be successful together.

Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.

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