BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Initially, when working to plan the 2020-21 Delano Public Schools calendar, the calendar committee was holding out hope that the legislature would allow districts to start school before Labor Day, which is Sept. 7.
“We quickly came to the conclusion we’re just going to start after Labor Day,” Superintendent Matt Schoen told the school board during a work session Monday. “People want to get set with a plan. They want to have breaks . . . I haven’t heard anything out of the legislative session thus far.”
Therefore, the proposed calendar includes a start date of Sept. 8, and an end date of June 3.
The board will take official action on the calendar during the March 23 meeting.
Highlights of the proposed calendar include:
• No school Oct. 15 or 16 due to Minnesota Education Academy.
• No school Nov. 25-27.
• No school Dec. 24 through Jan. 1.
• No school Jan. 18 due to Martin Luther King Junior Day. It will be a teacher workshop day.
• A half day Jan. 22. This will replace the late start that would have been Jan. 20 as part of the literacy training that takes place during the morning of the third Wednesday of each month.
• No school Feb. 15 due to Presidents Day. It will be a teacher workshop day.
• Spring break from March 29 through April 2.
• Graduation will be June 6.
Schoen said that 155 staff members responded to a survey that included this calendar and another option, and about 70 percent preferred this calendar.
Parents were surveyed regarding the late starts for the literacy training, and between 65 to 70 percent of respondents favored the existing structure, rather than switching to early releases.
“We got it figured out,” Schoen said. “We know what we’re doing. Let’s keep it the same.”
New in 2020-21, if school is cancelled for weather or other reasons, the district will facilitate up to five flex learning days as allowed by state statute. If more than five school days are cancelled, school will be extended beyond June 3.
“This is a pretty darn good-looking calendar,” school board member Amy Johnson said. “There’s a nice full Christmas break. Spring break makes sense . . . I like that we have the last day of school before graduation.”
During the regular meeting, the board approved the first of two reads of three policies.
Policy 419 regards the tobacco-free environment; and possession and use of tobacco, tobacco-related devices, and electronic delivery devices.
It exempts any product approved as a tobacco-cessation product or any product for medical purposes. The exemption does not apply to e-cigarettes, though it was noted the devices are commonly marketed as devices to help people quit smoking.
Policy 501 is the school weapons policy.
It now includes lasers and laser pointers as examples of items that could be used as weapons.
The district also added the following language:
A student who finds a weapon on the way to school or in a school location, or a student who discovers that he or she accidentally has a weapon in his or her possession, and takes the weapon immediately to the principal’s office shall not be considered to possess a weapon. However, if a student brings a weapon to school multiple times, they will not be deemed to have brought the weapon to school accidentally. If it would be impractical or dangerous to take the weapon to the principal’s office, a student shall not be considered to possess a weapon if he or she immediately turns the weapon over to an administrator, teacher, or head coach or immediately notifies an administrator, teacher, or head coach of the weapon’s location.
Policy 534 regards unpaid meal charges. It states that a student will never be denied a first meal due to unpaid meal charges, but a second meal or additional items may be denied. Reminders for payments of outstanding meal balances are not to be demeaning or stigmatizing for students. The district also may not deny any student the opportunity to participate in graduation ceremonies or commencement activities due to unpaid meal charges.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• approved personnel matters, including the hiring of Tristen Griffin as boys varsity soccer coach, an agreement to continue a memorandum of understanding with the teacher’s association for an additional duty day, and Family Medical Leave Act leave for Delano Elementary School Principal Darren Schuler.
• accepted $38,166 in donations from 15 different entities.
• approved a robotics trip to Duluth in March.
• approved a trip for eighth- and ninth-graders to go to Washington, DC, and New York in March of 2021.
• approved a trip to Spain in March of 2021.
• approved the first and only read of Policy 426, the Affordable Care Act Compliance policy.