Presidents Day weekend had been set on the school calendar as a four-day weekend for Monticello students this year.
Previously, Friday, Feb. 14, had been scheduled as a teacher workshop day in addition to the holiday on Monday, Feb. 17.
But January’s extreme cold threw a chilly curve ball, forcing the district to cancel classes four school days plus contend with one delayed start.
To compensate for lost time, district officials have repurposed the Feb. 14 teacher workshop day as a make-up school day. This will be an early release day, with school getting out at 11:15 a.m. for the middle school, 11:30 a.m. for the high school and 12:45 p.m. at the elementary level. Superintendent Jim Johnson said this week the state mandates the number of hours students must be in class.
According to Johnson, the district’s morning kindergartners will currently fall below that number due to the late start on Jan. 23 that allowed afternoon kindergartners to attend when the morning group did not. Johnson said all other students are still above the state’s threshold despite the numerous days of missed school last month.
Johnson said the district opted to make up for missed time during the school year, rather than adding days to the school calendar because they wanted to get as much instructional time in as they could before spring testing dates.
State schools typically conduct their standardized tests around the middle of April. In addition to the test considerations, Johnson said the district wants to be sensitive to summer plans that families may have already made.
“From a family standpoint, we know people make plans for June well ahead of time, so if we can get them in during the school year we’ll try to get it taken care of,” he said.
As all Minnesotans know, we certainly aren’t out of the woods yet when it comes to adverse weather conditions; snow days have occurred even well into April. If the weather continues to wreak havoc on this year’s school schedule, Johnson said the next make up day would take place Monday, April 21, and onto the end of the school year if more additional time is needed.
“We’re not going to say right now if that is going to happen,” Johnson said, “we’ll wait and see what happens through February and March and make a determination after that.”
Freelancer Meghan Gutzwiller covers education and the Monticello School District.