Minnesota schools got final word Monday that all those the winter cancellations won’t come back to haunt them.
Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill allowing districts to write off missed days without losing state aid or risking punishment for falling beneath the minimum school calendar.
Walz says the bill shows the state can be responsive to unforeseen circumstances in a year when some districts called off as many as 13 days. He said he doesn’t believe the exemption will become an expectation that missed days will be forgiven in the future. In January, Walz said he withstood pressure from his own children to cancel classes statewide when temperatures dropped well below zero, saying local leaders were best equipped to judge the situation.
“The 12-year-olds might want want to see school called off. But all of us know and we know too they want to be at that school. That’s the place where they find joy, that’s the place where they find learning,” Walz said. “As long as it’s not dangerous, we’ll get ‘em there.”
District boards must pass resolutions to accept the scheduling latitude. Hourly and contract employees won assurances they’ll be paid or be given alternate shifts should districts opt against make-up days.
Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, said it wasn’t practical for districts to add days at the end of the year to make up for the lost class time. She said it would disrupt graduations and family vacations, complicate construction that begins once students leave and have diminishing returns on achievement.
“Let me just tell you as a former middle school teacher and a former elementary teacher, I think all teachers could attest to the fact that the rate of learning declines precipitously in June,” Nelson said.