Two make-up days added to school calendar

The Forest Lake school district will add Monday, Feb. 17 and Monday, March 31 to the days school is in session.

The board voted at the Feb. 6 meeting to add these days after school was canceled five days in January for extreme cold weather.

Feb. 17 was originally scheduled as an all-teacher in-service day and March 31 as an all-teacher work day.

Superintendent Linda Madsen recommended making up two or three days, but not from spring break (March 10-14) or summer vacation.

The school district sets spring break dates two years in advance so that families can plan ahead, she said. To take a week off work, some parents are required by their companies to give “quite a bit of notice.”

Choosing to make up classes on teacher work days is not ideal, she added. It affects 1,100 employees, and when she met with representatives of the teachers union, “they were not in favor.”

“There are pros and cons for each option,” she said. “There is no perfect solution.”

In Minnesota the minimum number of student contact days is 165, and Forest Lake has a few to spare. Assuming no more days are canceled, the number of student days is 169 or 170, depending on the grade.

But losing too many days can cause problems. For Advanced Placement classes, for example, the student’s test score may determine whether college credit is given.

Kathy Bystrom said pulling staff development and work days is not ideal, but this solution is best for students.

The vote was 5-1, with Erin Turner absent. Dan Kieger voted no.

“I don’t think it’s right to use teacher work days,” he said. “I would put it at the end of the year, myself, rather than use work days.”