School districts may begin considering extra days

Published 7:01 am Sunday, January 26, 2014

Students may get excited for another day with no school due to bad weather, but all these school closings will have families wondering whether school districts will have to make up snow days.

Area schools have closed for two days thus far in January and some school districts, including Austin Public Schools, are shutting down in advance of bitter cold weather Monday.

Austin schools announced all Monday after-school activities are also canceled. Kids Korner students will be at Banfield Elementary from 6:15 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Gov. Mark Dayton closed all schools in the state Jan. 6 when the polar vortex hit, and temperatures will be similar early this week.

Lyle Public Schools previously scheduled no school on Monday, but all evening activities are canceled due to the weather.

Superintendent David Krenz said Austin won’t have to make up snow days yet. The district builds three snow days into teacher contracts before requiring teachers to make up any lost time. The district is far above state-mandated classroom time, however. Minnesota requires at least 935 hours of elementary class time and 1,020 hours of middle and high school class time.

Austin schools called off classes on Friday afternoon, with Rochester Public Schools following suit. The district had two snow days earlier this month.

Hayfield Community Schools is in a similar situation. The district has already closed school three times in January, according to superintendent Ron Evjen. Evjen said the district’s policy allows for two snow days without any makeups, but students may be required to make up the third school day, along with any other snow days that are announced. Evjen said it will be up to the Hayfield Community Schools Board to decide whether Hayfield students will have to make up lost school time.

“Our primary focus is the safety of kids,” he said. “I’d rather err on the side of caution any day. That’s our philosophy.”