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District 833 not likely to seek 'snow day forgiveness'

District 833 isn't likely to change its school calendar, despite "snow day forgiveness" legislation that Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign into law.

Superintendent Keith Jacobus briefed members of the South Washington County School Board at its March 28 meeting.

The compromise bill that passed the Minnesota House and Senate would give school boards the discretion of counting instructional days that were canceled because of concerns for health and safety.

The state requires a minimum of 165 instructional days in the school year. But some school districts missed the mark because extreme cold and record snowfalls forced them to cancel nearly two weeks of classes.

The boards would be able to report as many canceled days as they needed this year without penalty.

School Board members seemed disinclined to add days or minutes to the calendar, however. Jacobus said it is only at the secondary level that the district is short of the instructional minimum — by six hours.

"Adding minutes isn't going to help anything," board member Ron Kath said. "I'm pretty confident that our teachers have made up the difference. There's no doubt in my mind the staff took care of those kids and we're getting them where they need to be."

District 833 builds in extra instructional days to their schedule in case of snow or severe weather. They have five to seven extra days this year at every level, except for seniors, who had four extra days, director of communications Shelly Schafer said.

The board did make one change to next year's calendar when they voted to make to make Tuesday, March 3, 2020, a no-school day because it coincides with the presidential primaries. More than a dozen District 833 schools will be polling locations.

Students would make up the missed day March 6.

RiverTown Multimedia reporter Dana Ferguson contributed to this story.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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