Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Rural Minnesota school says 4-day week cuts costs; state says it negatively impacts students

Star Tribune photo: Maynard-Clara City schools
A west-central Minnesota school district that joined many others around the country in switching to a four-day week during the Great Recession is fighting the Minnesota Education Department's order to return to a five-day week.

The Maynard-Clara City-Raymond district says the four-day schedule has cut school costs by thousands of dollars and helped area businesses that have been able to employ students on their days off, reports The Associated Press. But "state education officials say there has been a lack of adequate academic progress in the district."

While high school test scores are a little below average, elementary school scores are at or slightly above the statewide average, AP reports. "State officials say they are concerned that the district has not made strong enough gains among low-income students." Education Department spokesman Josh Collins told AP that "it does beg the question, should the financial need continue to outweigh what appears to be a negative impact on student achievement?"

A school board committee "is exploring ways to retain the shorter school week, including drafting a bill to allow for local control on the matter," AP reports. State Sen. Lyle Koenen (DFL-Clara City) and Rep.-elect Tim Miller, a Republican who represents the area, said they plan to support legislation should the district choose that route." (Read more)

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