Edina Public Schools Postpones School Calendar Decision
A number of concerned residents requested the district reconsider a push to start classes prior to Labor Day in 2013 and 2014.
A decision of whether to start school before Labor Day for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years is still up in the air, after no clear consensus was reached during an Edina school board meeting last week.
Several concerned parents spoke before the Board of Education during the Jan. 7 meeting, requesting they reconsider plans to start classes during the next two school years prior to Labor Day.
Laurel Fishbach, who has two students attending Edina Schools, reported she had collected 100 signatures within 12 hours of starting a petition regarding the proposed calendar changes.
"I think that's significant in 12 hours," Fishbach said, during the meeting. "There's quite an uproar of people who don't want school to begin before Labor Day."
Michelle Langels, who also has two children attending Edina Public Schools, told the Board of Education she had spoken with a number of friends and neighbors, with almost everyone agreeing starting before Labor Day seemed like a bad idea.
"When kids are in school, I think parents are really dedicated to making sure their children are successful," Langels said. "When school is out, that's time for children and families to recharge and spend more family time together."
Under the proposed calendars, classes would have started on Aug. 26 in 2013 and on Aug. 25 in 2014. For reference, classes started on Sep. 4 this school year.
Because of that early start, classes would have also ended earlier both years. School would have wrapped up on May 30 in 2014 and on May 29 in 2015. The 2012-13 school year won't finish until June. 6.
Minnesota law technically prohibits starting school before Labor Day, though a provision in state statues makes it possible for districts with more than $400,000 worth of construction to start earlier. Because Edina's 10-year alternative facilities plan includes approximately $10 million in planned construction for the next several years in building infrastructure upgrades, the district easily meets that threshold.
Board Member Sarah Patzloff said she had definitely taken note of the outpouring of constituents not in favor of the earlier start.
"We are fighting upstream, in my opinion, when it is a state law," Patzloff said. "We need the Legislature and other bodies to be hearing that we want more local control, but to go around what is the law for the sake of this, I'm not in full agreement with that."
After Board members were unable to reach any sort of consensus on whether or not to proceed with the planned calendars, they opted to send them back to a committee for additional consideration and potential revisions. A revised calendar proposal is expected to be ready for School Board action during the group's Jan. 28 meeting.
Options currently being considered include retaining many elements of the proposed calendars for the 2013-14 school year, but including a post Labor Day start and a June release date. The district has announced plans to make the tweaked calendar available in advance of the Jan. 28 board meeting, allowing the public time to examine the proposal ahead of time.
The district says the proposed changes were intended to increase student instruction time, better align calendars at all grade levels and minimize the number of two- and three-day weeks in the year. The calendars would have included the same number of class days for students, but would have included four late start/early release days to allow for additional teacher collaboration and data analysis.