School finalizes plan to make up days

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Thanks to a combination of make-up days, extended school days and no more Wednesday early dismissals, MFL MarMac students will still be able to avoid attending class in June this year.

The district has cancelled 12 days due to snow or extreme cold—four more than all of last year. Over the past month, superintendent Dale Crozier has worked with staff and school board members to come up with a solution to recoup that lost time.

Two days were made up in mid-February, and full days are now planned for Friday, March 15; Friday, March 22; and Monday, April 22. On Thursday, March 28, school will dismiss early, at 1:20 p.m., and parent/teacher conferences will follow. The next day, Friday, March 29, school will be in session, but with a 2:20 p.m. dismissal.

The district will have no early dismissals on Wednesdays for the remainder of the year. The school days will also be extended based on the elementary daily schedule, which is the shortest of the three schools. Students will begin the day at 8:20 a.m., five minutes earlier than normal, and the day will end 10 minutes later than usual, at 3:25 p.m.

Crozier said that would put the last day of school on Thursday, May 30. However, at Monday’s school board meeting, he said the board could choose to waive two of those days, since the district has enough hours built up. They opted to do so, making Tuesday, May 28, the final day, barring any additional cancellations.

In order to assure staff make up the time they’ve missed, several work nights have been planned. Crozier said attendance is not mandatory, but the dates must be held if teachers want to avoid tacking on days to the end of the school year. The time won’t be wasted, he said, but will be spent “doing some practical things that make sense for us.”

For hourly associates, Crozier said they will make up some days when students do. But they will also have the option to spend some extra time at school, completing tasks like painting, cleaning or shredding papers.

“We’re being pretty liberal to everyone involved,” acknowledged school board president Gina Roys, who said she, Crozier and others worked hard to develop the best plan for both students and staff.

Next year’s calendar also discussed

Next year’s calendar was also on the agenda for the board at the March 11 meeting. After months of debate, including gathering feedback from teachers, there will be no change to the district’s 2:20 p.m. dismissals on most Wednesdays. Crozier said they considered creating a single 1:20 p.m. early release day each month, during which time staff could conduct professional development, but ultimately decided against it.

High school principal Larry Meyer said having that time on a weekly basis allows for continuity when staff are researching and digging into topics. Middle school principal Denise Mueller said it’s also less confusing for staff, students and parents.

Roys said the district’s success also made it easier to continue with the same schedule.

“We’ve come a long way with professional development,” she stated. “It proves this is working the way we’re doing it.”

The board unanimously approved the calendar, which sets the first day of school at Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. 

Budget approved

The board approved the district’s 2019-2020 fiscal year budget, which Crozier said includes 50-cent drop for the tax levy. 

Staff changes approved

The board approved a K-12 guidance contract for Samantha Baumgartner, who currently offers mental health services at the district. Crozier said it’s still unclear what guidance role she will fill, but noted that elementary counselor Kurt Gaylor plans to retire at the end of the year.

In addition, the board accepted the resignations of Samantha Corsbie and Carissa Otto, who are both special education teachers.

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