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Adding snow days good for students

Published 9:29am Friday, February 21, 2014

The Albert Lea school board and district administrators are to be commended for opting to add five days of classes to the school calendar to make up for snow days.

As fun as snow days might seem, let’s never forget that many people work hard to make a living and pay taxes to have their children educated locally. Even missing a few days means less education for the same amount of tax dollars.

The changes only add one day to the end of the school year for students, and the rest are made up by switching around things like teacher prep days and conferences.

Superintendent Mike Funk’s attitude toward the matter also summed up the situation well. He wrote on his blog, in a Q&A format:

Why is the school making up snow days when we are still above the state minimum threshold of 165 days of instruction?  With the five days of school we have missed, we are currently at 168 days of instruction at the elementary level, and 170 days at the secondary level.  We believe that 165 is the bare minimum threshold for students, and the minimum is clearly not “expecting the best” for our students.

Why is the district not making time up on Presidents Day?  We have multiple bargaining units in Albert Lea, and the vast majority of them have Presidents Day as a paid holiday. We cannot compel our employees to work on a holiday.

Why is the school not making student time up on Good Friday? For the same reason as Presidents Day. Teachers however, will have the opportunity to make up a staff development day on that Friday.

Some districts are using spring break as a time to make up classes. Has the district considered this option? Many plans have already been made for staff and students over spring break, and we do not want to interrupt those plans.

If we miss more days of instruction, will the district add more days to the calendar, or extend the school year further? This will be the last modification to the calendar unless the district falls below the threshold set by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Some districts are extending the school day to add 5-10 minutes of instructional time. Why did we not consider this? The administration does not believe that adding a few minutes a day will be beneficial for staff or students.

How does this impact the seniors last day of school? This will be determined by the high school administration before the start of fourth quarter.

How does this impact graduation? The change in instructional days has no impact on graduation. Seniors will still graduate on June 6th.