The school year is off to a great start. I want to express my gratitude to all of the staff who worked so hard to get the school ready for the arrival of our students and teachers. I also want to thank Mrs. Susan Link and Mr. Nathan Boler for rolling up their sleeves and getting busy in their new roles as principals in each building. As always, the teachers and staff have been working hard to create the best learning environment they can for our students.
Minnesota state law prohibits public schools from starting school until after Labor Day. In the next two calendar years, Labor Day is quite late (September 7, 2020 and September 6, 2021). These late labor days would put the earliest school could start to September 8, 2020 and September 7, 2021. Schools can apply to the Commissioner of Education for a Flexible Learning Year that allows for certain exemptions to the “after Labor Day law”. Some of the exemptions approved in the past were to accommodate for construction projects, 45-15 calendars, and early starts to attempt to capture more instruction time prior to state tasting. In order to be eligible to be considered for an application, each school district is required to have three public meetings.
In an effort to give the Caledonia School Board the option to potentially start prior to Labor Day, it was decided to hold three public meetings to discuss potential calendar options. The first of the three meetings was held on July 31, 2019. There was considerable discussion about a potential 45-10 calendar. During the course of the discussion and through previous district surveys, the 45-10 calendar did not seem like a palatable option for the district. Some of the things making a 45-10 calendar unattractive to some district patrons were:
- School being in session during the Houston County Fair
- Lack of air conditioning in the Parochial Schools in town
- Lack of research supporting increased academic performance in schools that have adopted such calendars.
- There was concern regarding child care during the intersession breaks (10 day breaks between the 45 student contact days).
- Students would have two fewer weeks of summer break...patrons were concerned that this would not allow them to work as much and provide less time for summer family vacation.
On September 16th, we had the second of three public forums to discuss possible options for a Flexible Learning Year. At the September 16 meeting, the main topic of discussion was an “Early Start” calendar. As an example, we posted the Wabasha-Kellogg calendar from the 2018-2019 school year (please click the blue link below to view this calendar). Thirty-three school districts were approved for a flexible learning year. Of those thirty-three, eighteen had an early start calendar similar to that of Wabasha-Kellogg. A calendar similar to that of Wabasha-Kellogg’s would alleviate many of the concerns voiced by district patrons in July.
- The “Early Start Calendar” would start in August, but after the county fair.
- There would not be intersession breaks.
- Summer break would be the same length as the traditional calendar. (School would start in August, but end in May rather than starting in September and ending in June.)
- Parochial schools would still not have air conditioning, so that problem still exists.
- Any students who attend the state fair would have absences excused.
We will have one more public forum on November 7th in the Middle School/High School Auditorium beginning at 6:00 PM and going no later than 7:00 PM. We hope to have a good crowd.
Thanks to everyone for their continued support for our students!
Superintendent Craig Ihrke