by Samara Postuma
It’s been a cold winter, so cold that St. Michael-Albertville students have had four snow days and one late start since the new year. While one of those closures was due to Gov. Mark Dayton, there is no question, this winter has brought forth record low temperatures and unsafe conditions for students to wait at bus stops.
With four missed school days, the STMA school board met to discuss the addition of a make up day.
“I’d like to recommend a make up day to the board,” Supt. Jim Behle explained. Behle met with eight district teachers to discuss the calendar and when a make up day would be best.
The school board sets the district calendar and had accounted for the possibility of three days of no school, meaning the fourth day put the district over and a make up day is required by state statute. While many thought that the day that Gov. Dayton closed schools statewide did not count as one of the missed days, according to Behle the Minnesota department of education did not excuse that day.
“We’re not just going to make up the day for the state statute, but because it’s what’s best for children,” Behle said.
While many parents and community members reached out to the school board via email before the meeting and requested the make up day happen at the end of the year, Behle explained why it was important for students to make up the day now. “There are 59 days in the second trimester and high school staff need one more day in this trimester.”
School board member Jeanne Holland further explained mentioning that students who are taking accelerated courses or receiving college credit have already missed four days of instruction and they will be tested on the material so need the make up day before the end of the trimester.
Hollee Saville, an STMA parent, asked Behle and the board about the possibility of making up a day on a later no school day such as Friday, March 7. “My concern is childcare because you are giving parents less than two weeks notice,” Saville said, noting that many area childcares, including home and centers, are closed on Presidents Day for trainings.
Saville also noted that Presidents Day is a federal holiday, meaning banks, post offices and other government offices are closed.
Dr. Behle and members of the school board explained that March 7 is a no school day that teachers will use for grading and would not be a good option for a make up day. With just two weeks notice, Behle and the board acknowledged that many families may already have plans and Behle expressed that absences would be excused.
The board voted and approved school to be in session Monday, Feb. 17 and also further discussed future make up dates in the case there are more closures due to the snow or cold. Those dates would be Friday, May 30, and Monday, April 21, in that order if and when needed.
For the future the STMA school board plans to make tentative make up days a part of the district calendar so families will know when make up days might take place when several closures happen.