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Sumner 45-15 Option to Expand

Created: 01/28/2014 7:14 PM KAALtv.com
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- For three years, Austin's Sumner elementary school has operated on a year-round schedule of 45 days on and 15 days off. And next year, there's going to be a new option for parents who'd like to try it.

“Allowing students to be bussed from their area into the Sumner area to come to school here if they so choose," Sumner principal Sheila Berger explained.

It's a change the board of education is making in its application for a second three-year waiver from the state's standard school calendar.

"When I started working here 10-11 years ago we probably had 375 students,” principal Sheila Berger told us. “Today we're at about 205, so we do have the ability to expand our enrollment."

If more students apply to attend Sumner than space allows, the school district would have a lottery-system to see who gets in.

"If you are a student on 45-15 no matter where you live this year you are grand-fathered in, you are a 45-15 student as long as you wish to remain one," principal Sheila Berger said.

From the beginning, parents in the Sumner attendance area have been allowed to opt-out of 45-15, and as space opened-up students from other areas could opt-in. But unless the student met the guidelines of the district's bussing policy ... "It is after one mile within your neighborhood school area," Sheila Berger said …  parents had to find another way to get them to school.

"I do feel that there are students who did not stay with the 45-15 calendar or chose not to be a part of it just because of that transportation issue," said Sumner’s Sheila Berger.

The school, and its 45-15 schedule, are earning high marks.

"This is a very good school," said fourth grader Mercedes Rodas Carmona.

“It's easier because you know what you're doing, and it's easier in math," added fourth grader Samantha Johnson.

The Minnesota Department of Education named Sumner one of ten "Celebration Schools" in the state because of improved student performance.

"I'd rather have a three week, because I don't forget that much of the math and stuff, and when I have a three month break, I do," fourth grader Mercedes Rodas Carmona told us. "And it's very fun."

"We wanted to be sure that people who choose to try out 45-15 have that opportunity," added Sumner principal Sheila Berger.

Sumner held the first of three public meetings to explain the bussing option on Tuesday evening.