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Three days tacked on to Pequot Lakes school year

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Pequot Lakes students will be in school an extra three days this spring to make up days canceled in January because of the cold weather.

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Previously, Thursday, May 29, was scheduled as the last day of school. Now, students will attend school Friday, May 30, and Monday-Tuesday, June 2-3, with the last day for students being June 3.

Wednesday, June 4, will be a final work day for teachers.

Graduation remains Friday, May 30. Spring break remains Monday-Friday, March 24-28. And students will have Good Friday, April 18, and Memorial Day Monday, May 26, off.

The Pequot Lakes School Board approved the revised school calendar reflecting the additional three days on a 5-2 vote at its regular monthly meeting Monday, Feb. 10. Board members Mike Erholtz and Valarie Wallin were opposed.

So far this year, school has been canceled four times because of weather — Jan. 6-7 and 27-28.

“Whether those days are made up or not is a local decision that all school boards wrestle with,” Superintendent Chris Lindholm wrote in a memo to the school board.

While many school districts must make up some missed days to meet required instructional hours for secondary students, the Pequot Lakes School District exceeded that requirement by 10 days before the four canceled days.

State statute requires 165 days of school, or 1,020 instructional hours.

“It’s a local decision. It’s our decision,” Lindholm told the board Monday.

Lindholm talked about teaching students the value of instruction, and staff who lost four days of pay, like bus drivers and food staff.

After talking with the administrative team, he recommended that students make up three days, and staff use the remaining one day for training and work time on technology integration.

When asked what happens if school is canceled yet again this year, Lindholm said that again, adding makeup days would be up to the school board. It would be possible to extend the year that last week of school, with the days still being meaningful because they wouldn’t be interrupted by a weekend.

Erholtz suggested the board postpone a decision until March to have time to talk more about it and consider staff intent regarding curriculum.

Wallin said postponing a decision would give time to take into account any more possible weather cancellations. Board chair Kim Bolz-Andolshek, running the meeting from Missouri via Skype, said there could be snow days in April.

School board member Brandon Andersen said the board needed to be sensitive to staff with summer plans, and a delayed decision could affect their plans.

“I think we owe them a decision sooner rather than later,” he said, noting his gut feeling was that even if there are future snow days, he wouldn’t want to extend the school year any more.

The board also adopted a 2014-15 school calendar that was designed to increase time and energy focused on professional development and collaboration to improve results.

Three drafts were emailed to staff for input. The board chose the draft with the most votes (40 of 75 responses).

The 2014-15 school year will start Tuesday, Sept. 2, and end Thursday, May 28, with graduation on Friday, May 29.

Students will have a two-week Christmas break, Dec. 22-Jan. 2, 2015. Spring break will be Monday-Friday (Good Friday), March 30-April 3,2015.

All draft calendars reflected 169 days of school for students, instead of 172.

Nancy Vogt can be reached at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @PEJ_Nancy.

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