by Jim Boyle
Extreme cold temperatures closed schools four days this year with plenty of winter left, but how and when to make those days up or any additional snow days remains up in the air.
The Elk River Area School Board plans to tack two emergency school days onto the end of the school year. This means that the last day of school, for students in kindergarten through 11th grade, will move from June 3 to June 5.
How to fit the third and fourth cold day is more problematic and could become even more problematic if there are snow days called in February or March. One thought was to have school on Presidents Day, but because the date was not previously reserved as an emergency makeup day and it’s a negotiated holiday, collective bargaining action would be needed.
The School Board is currently evaluating recommendations from the School District’s Meet and Confer Calendar Committee in determining when to make up any other closed school days, including a contingency plan if it becomes necessary to close schools again in February or March.
But it cannot unilaterally amend the school calendar without mutual agreement from the Elk River Education Association.
When it tried to do this in 1996, the district ended up having to go to arbitration with the teachers union.
“In light of arbitration ruling, we probably need to take a step back,” said Rod Barnes, the executive director of human resources and labor relations.
The administration’s goal is to present a revised 2013-2014 school year calendar for approval at the Feb. 24 School Board meeting.