Following outcry from the community and extensive deliberation, the Edina School Board is proceeding with plans to start the 2013 and 2014 school years before Labor Day.
Board members held a special work session Wednesday morning, Jan. 23, discussing whether or not to nix or delay the proposed earlier start to the next two school years. The board ultimately agreed to have administrators move forward with the calendars as initially proposed.
The board will vote on the calendars during its Monday, Jan. 28 meeting, with the earlier start taking place this coming fall.
"We appreciate the thoughtful deliberation that the School Board has taken with regard to our school year calendars, and believe the direction they want us to take is clear," Superintendent Ric Dressen said in a release. "We know that no calendar will meet the needs of every individual, but we are unified in our commitment to looking at what is educationally best for all of our students. We know that in Edina Public Schools, we must continually review how we do things—including looking differently at issues of learning, teaching, space and time—so that we continue to provide a high quality educational experience for all learners."
Under the proposed calendars, classes will start 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 will also end earlier both years—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 building infrastructure upgrades, the district easily meets that threshold.
The Jan. 28 School Board meeting is set to take place at 7 p.m. in Room 349 of the Edina Community Center.
Based on parent input and School Board discussions, district officials said they acknowledge some students may have prior commitments that would cause a higher number of student absences in August 2013.
As a result of those extenuating circumstances, the School Board's Policy Committee will be considering modifications to its Student Attendance Policy for the 2013-14 school year.
The district says the proposed changes are 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 proposed calendars include the same number of class days for students, but also have four late start/early release days to allow for additional teacher collaboration and data analysis.