Austin adds half a school dayPublished 10:29am Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Austin Public Schools will turn a half-day into a full day of school next month in response to mounting snow days.
The Austin Public Schools board unofficially approved Austin Superintendent David Krenz to change the half-day on Wednesday, March 12, to a full day to make up lost class time as the district has canceled school five times thus far this year due to the weather.
“We don’t have a lot of free days built into the calendar between now and the end of the school year,” Krenz told the board.
Krenz said the half-day, originally meant for staff development, was a good choice to switch to a full day as other half-days marked for staff time involved speakers and teaching exercises the district has already paid for.
From a classroom perspective, Austin isn’t obligated to make up snow days. Minnesota requires at least 935 hours of elementary class time and 1,020 hours of middle and high school class time. Austin is far above the state-mandated classroom time.
Yet the district also builds three snow days into teacher contracts before requiring teachers to make up any lost time. Those contracts are the catalyst behind the current discussions.
The school calendar further complicates the board’s decision. Students only get two full days off, March 27 and 28, for spring break this year, and Krenz said families may have already made plans for that time. In addition, adding days in June could decrease student attention during the last days of school.