Four-day school week voted inStarting this fall, students will go to school Monday through Thursday in Two Harbors and Silver Bay.
The Lake Superior School Board had a swift reaction to the failed levy referendum Wednesday as it voted to implement a four-day school week district-wide beginning in the fall.
Two Harbors and Silver Bay will join a growing number of Minnesota schools switching to a longer school day to cut down on bus routes driven, cooling and heating, and some part-time jobs.
The district expects to save about $250,000 a year with a four-day week.
“The voters have left us with little option,” said board member Pat Wilson. The board voted 5-2 for the shortened week with Dwight Moe and Renee Saamanen against the change. Moe cited concerns about losing students because of the four-day week and asked that a survey be done to determine why students leave the district.
Minnehaha Principal Pat Driscoll said the four-day week will be a draw for students outside the district.
Board members said there was no point in delaying a decision.
Two Harbors High School Principal Bob Nyberg said his staff wanted to know immediately what the school week plans were in order to make preparations.
Going to a four-day week will help save more elective classes and employees from the chopping block, Superintendent Phil Minkkinen said.
The schedule for a four-day week will mean 410 minutes of class time per day, about 6.8 hours, compared to 343 minutes, 5.7 hours, in the five-day schedule.
The amount of days students will be in school will decrease from 170 to 142. The schedule would be Monday through Thursday.
A “flex schedule” could be used so students excused early for activities wouldn’t miss the same class each week.
Parents at a February meeting wanted to know what they would do with their kids during the off day, especially in the current economy that makes paying more for daycare a dire option.
Some parents feared elementary students would find it difficult to handle the longer school day.
The district will encourage outside groups and its own Community Ed to use the open day for activities.
Among ideas mentioned included moving church programs from Wednesday to Friday, community education classes and activities at the Lake County Fairgrounds.
Students would also be encouraged to go into the community for volunteer work. Some have mentioned partnering with educational institutions around the region: Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, North House Folk School, The Place, Kids and Co. and the Boy and Girl Scouts.
School board member Cynthia Ryder said the extra day off will be “an opportunity once we get into it.” She said the vote wasn’t a vindictive reaction to the failed levy referendum. She’s more upset with state funding policy than voters.
Some problems may need to be solved before “fifth-day” programs are implemented. They can cost money and families with lower incomes may not be able to afford it.
The area does have numerous facilities that can be used by the district, but district buildings would be closed on Fridays, mainly because utilities will not be at full-power, like heating and lighting.
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