CALENDAR AND END OF YEAR
Over the last few weeks, I have been covering a variety of topics. At the last school board meeting, there were a couple decisions made that are important to share. The issues are related to the school calendar and the end of the school year.
We have had a lot of weather activity during this school year. We have had a number of days of late start, early dismissal or school cancelation. To date, we have lost six complete days of school.
The school calendar that is adopted prior to the start of the year includes plans for five days in which we would close for emergency purposes. With six days lost, we have had to extend beyond the days allowed in the calendar.
Because the calendar includes plans for a number of days, there is typically not a great deal of extra discussion that needs to take place related to calendar adjustments. With the sixth day lost, the school board had to consider what to do with the extra day.
There were several ideas and options offered to the school board for deliberation. The ideas included “forgiving” the day for students but requiring staff members to make up the time, simply placing an additional day at the end of the school year, placing the last day at the end of the year while also putting a second day there by restoring Easter Monday as a vacation day, making up the time by extending each school day, and looking at make-up time on Saturdays. There were possible variations within this as well.
Issues such as extending school days and making up time on Saturday seemed to be more extreme measures. They also involved considerable logistical questions that may not have been simple to answer.
The decision, then, came down to an issue of whether to require students to make up the day or the appropriate way to place the day back into the calendar.
Beyond looking at the school schedule and calendar, there are some issues that make the decision a little more complicated this year. We have two significant projects that are scheduled to start as the school year concludes. Both are set to begin on June 2.
Through the city of Cold Spring and Stearns County, there will be improvements to County Road 50 on the west side of the school campus. The work is scheduled to begin on June 2 and will require most of the summer to complete. Tearing up the road will make access to the school campus (at least from the west) a little more challenging.
At the same time, we are scheduled to start the heating and ventilation project at Cold Spring Elementary. In order to be sure the project is complete for the start of the 2014-15 school year, we need to have the project begin on June 2. Cold Spring Elementary will be closed this summer, once the project gets underway, so it would be difficult to add several more days of school.
Because of the other projects and the more complicated schedules once June begins, the school board decision was to “forgive” the day for students. The decision is somewhat a calculated gamble for the remainder of the spring; we really cannot afford more emergency closures but we are hoping that with April just around the corner that we will see better weather!
The decision by the board does require staff members to report during the first week of June. Staff members will be at the school sites on June 2, 3 and 4—but without students. We will have work to wrap up the year as well as other tasks to complete. We will be working through the spring to establish the schedules and duties for the three days.
The issue for staff members is different than that of students. We contract for specific numbers of employment days and compensation is based on that amount of time. If the day is “forgiven” for staff, the district, in essence, pays out more than $50,000 in salary but has nothing in exchange for the compensation.
As I noted, we are trusting that we will see spring weather sooner rather than later. The decision leaves the calendar as outlined with the adjustments. Good Friday and Memorial Day are the only two “vacation” days remaining in the calendar. School will be in session on the Monday and Tuesday after Easter (April 21 and 22).
There are two planned early dismissals in the calendar—on April 11 and May 2. Otherwise school is in session through May 30.
Any additional emergency closings would require the days to be added at the end of the year or they would need to be excused/”forgiven” to students.
ONE ADDITIONAL CHANGE
The school board did authorize one additional change in the calendar. We have a significant “logistical” conflict on Wednesday, May 28. We are scheduled to host the preliminary section track and field meet on our campus. The meet is set to begin at 3:00 in the afternoon—which would be our normal dismissal time.
The difficulty is that we are expecting up to 32 schools and as many as 1,000 participants in the meet. In addition, there will be large groups of observers and spectators. There is not enough space for the buses, visitors and participants in the meet along with our own students and staff.
Because of the logistical issues, May 28 will be changed to a 3 hour early release date in the calendar. We will have school in the morning but will dismiss at noon (three hours early) to accommodate the space needs at the preliminary section meet.