Superintendent’s Corner: Considering calendar options

Published 9:00 am Sunday, January 1, 2017

By Mike Funk

Mike Funk is the superintendent of Albert Lea Area Schools.

Albert Lea Area Schools recently had an online conversation about the early start to this school year. We want to thank community members for taking the time to share their thoughts and to star the thoughts of others.

Mike Funk

Mike Funk

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The Thoughtexchange process reviews and helps prioritize the thoughts that are most important to our community.

During the first step, people are able to share their thoughts and ideas by answering questions.

In step two, everyone is able to review each other’s thoughts and add stars to the ideas they think are important.

In the final step — the discover phase — the results are shared with the district community. During this engagement, Albert Lea Area Schools received feedback from over 600 stakeholders on this issue. Participants provided over 1,400 thoughts and assigned 27,781 stars. 

To view the results, visit You can also find it on the homepage of our district website,

The information gathered in this survey will be very helpful in the development of the final recommendation to our school board for next year’s calendar. We anticipate board approval in February on a calendar for 2017-18.

Below are some of my responses to the top questions asked as part of the discussion.

Why did we do
this survey now?

We wanted feedback from community members on the impact of the early start while it was still fresh in their memory.

When will we know the 2017-18 calendar? 

The administration will meet with the district calendar committee in January, and provide a recommendation to the board in February.

What about other calendar options, 45/15 year round or the balanced calendar?

We are looking at two options:  an early start or a post-Labor Day start.

What will determine if this is a success
or a failure? 

We will not know the long-term impact of this decision academically until we see initial test results this summer. We are surveying high school students this winter to gather their perception of the early start in regard to testing. 

Please visit the Thoughtexchange site for more information.