Area schools fill calendar with make-up days
This has been an exceptional winter that has broken records for below zero temperatures and has people dealing with mountains of snow. The European and Asian countries had to deal with the cold and the huge amounts of snow last year; this year it was the North American continent’s turn.
Because of the exceptional number of cold and snow days forcing school closings, school boards are scrambling to find enough make-up days before the end of the school year.
In normal winters, school is closed one, two, three or, at the most, four days during the winter.
This school year, school has been closed six or seven days so far, with March, the snowiest month, yet to go.
Gov. Mark Dayton closed all of the schools in Minnesota on January 6, the first day back to school after the holiday break. It was said at both the meetings of the Barnum and Moose Lake school boards that, since the governor had closed the schools, January 6 did not have to be made up.
But, with closings on December 3, January 7, 27, 28 and February 21 in the local schools, the number of make-up days available is dwindling.
The Barnum and Moose Lake school boards have approved recommendations by the superintendents and set make-up days for four school closings. The teachers reported to area schools on January 27 so that day will not have to be a student contact day.
Both superintendents have been reluctant to set make-up days during Spring Break because many people have vacations planned and plane tickets purchased.
However, the Moose Lake School Board has approved adding a day on Thursday, April 17, a day that had been scheduled for the beginning of the Easter break. The Barnum School Board has set make-up days for April 16 and 17.
Many of the days, such as February 17, Presidents Day, had been scheduled for a PLC day in the Moose Lake school district but that day was used as a make-up day. After the school closure on February 21, the Moose Lake School Board set another make-up day on March 28, another PLC day and teacher work day.
Half of the day had been set aside for the teachers to do the quarterly grading, said Superintendent Robert Indihar. They will have to do their grading on their own time but will be paid for their time.
PLC days are when the teachers meet in Professional Learning Communities to discuss teaching methods.
The Barnum School Board tacked on one day at the end of the school year as a student contact day on June 4.
Supt. Indihar has been reluctant to recommend adding days to the end of the year because the senior class must have completed a certain number of hours before graduation. He said seniors who have graduated cannot be expected to come back and complete classes the following week.
Graduation day in Moose Lake has been set for Sunday, May 25, according to a longstanding tradition of graduation on the Sunday before Memorial Day. That date cannot be changed for this year but one board member did mention changing the graduation date in future years. That discussion did not meet with support from other board members.
According to a news report on the local TV news, the Duluth School Board has tabled setting make-up days for the seven days that the Duluth schools have had to be closed.
That board has already missed one or two opportunities to set make-up days, such as Presidents Day.
Supt. Indihar said there has been a suggestion to add minutes to the school day if there are no more days that can be used for student contact days if the school has to be closed once again. He said that is a viable solution but hasn’t been necessary as of yet.
The winter of 2013-14 has been one for the record books, and the schools are just one aspect of normal life that is dealing with the effects. As winter moves into spring, what more will the schools and everyone else have to deal with? Stay tuned.