District discusses options after cancellations

Plans being made to fulfill senior class requirements

According+to+St.+Louis+Park+Public+Schools+Superintendent+Astein+Osei%2C+the+weather-related+cancellations+and+delays+have+jeopardized+the+senior+class%27+ability+to+fulfill+state+instructional+requirements.+Osei+said+the+district+is+working+to+create+a+plan+if+additional+winter+delays+or+cancellations+occur.
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District discusses options after cancellations

According to St. Louis Park Public Schools Superintendent Astein Osei, the weather-related cancellations and delays have jeopardized the senior class' ability to fulfill state instructional requirements. Osei said the district is working to create a plan if additional winter delays or cancellations occur.

According to St. Louis Park Public Schools Superintendent Astein Osei, the weather-related cancellations and delays have jeopardized the senior class' ability to fulfill state instructional requirements. Osei said the district is working to create a plan if additional winter delays or cancellations occur.

Grace Farley

According to St. Louis Park Public Schools Superintendent Astein Osei, the weather-related cancellations and delays have jeopardized the senior class' ability to fulfill state instructional requirements. Osei said the district is working to create a plan if additional winter delays or cancellations occur.

Grace Farley

Grace Farley

According to St. Louis Park Public Schools Superintendent Astein Osei, the weather-related cancellations and delays have jeopardized the senior class' ability to fulfill state instructional requirements. Osei said the district is working to create a plan if additional winter delays or cancellations occur.

Dani Orloff and Noah Orloff

As senior Zoey Zachek heard the senior class may need to make up instructional hours because of weather-related cancellations, she said she is concerned how the district will arrange to fulfill state requirements.  

“I was not aware of that. I want to graduate,” Zachek said. “That worries me because I really want to graduate, and I have New York trip the day after graduation.”

Following numerous school cancellations and shortened days because of the winter weather, St. Louis Park Public Schools Superintendent Astein Osei said the senior class may need to make up instructional hours to fulfill state requirements.

According to Minnesota Statute 120A.414, “the school board’s annual school calendar must include at least 425 hours of instruction for a kindergarten student without disability, 935 hours of instruction for a student in grades 1 through 6, and 1,020 hours of instruction for a student in grades 7 through 12.”  

According to St. Louis Park Public Schools Superintendent Astein Osei, the school year calendar allows for more than the required instructional hours. However, Osei said the shortened year for the class of 2019 because of the graduation ceremony creates some issues.

“Right now, we have about two hours of remaining time (seniors can miss) and if we were to use those two hours, like if we had another two hour late start or early release, we would be right at the state requirement of instructional hours and couldn’t miss any more days due to weather,” Osei said.

Senior Alexis Machoka said the long-term impact of an added day would be minimal.

“I think it’s a little bit unfair considering we had no option in missing those days. It was because of things that we had no control over so I think it would be kind of unfair to make us come to school another day because that one day really wouldn’t make a difference in our education,” Machoka said.

According to Osei, while the school year still fulfills the state requirement for instructional time, the administration has begun developing a plan to meet the minimum requirement for instructional hours. Such plans could include beginning school at 8:20 a.m. for the rest of the school year, as opposed to 8:40 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“We have a lot of winter left so we are going to start developing a plan just in case we have other weather-related cancellations,” Osei said. “Other grade levels would still be meeting that threshold, but seniors would have a challenge so we would have to consider what that would look like for the entire district.”

Besides that, it certainly interrupts other functions, but our first and foremost priority is making sure students and staff are safe, so we are always going to value that over some of the other pieces that may be impacted by this.”

— Astein Osei, Superintendent

Machoka said she believes changing the school schedule to starting at 8:20 a.m. daily in order to make up lost time, would negatively affect the learning of students.

“I feel like that wouldn’t be helpful at all especially considering that 8:40 days are days that a lot of students even seniors use to catch up in their classes or take that time to study,” Machoka said.

Zachek said not having 8:40 a.m. mornings would be a successful way of completing state requirements, if Park potentially misses at least two more hours.

“Making all the days 8:20 days isn’t that much of a change in everyday schedules so it wouldn’t really affect a lot,” Zachek said. “It may affect a few morning clubs but it wouldn’t be that bad and we could get around that.”

Gov. Tim Walz, according to Osei, has suggested legislation to not make the school district at fault for weather-related cancellations. Osei said if the legislation passed, school districts would no longer need to makeup school days missed due to winter weather.

“The governor can’t just make that decision unilaterally because there is legislation connected to it so that it would have to be approved by legislators,” Osei said. “I know that there are a couple of different groups that are advocating and trying to push forward some legislation that would give school districts a little bit of relief.”

Senior Aidan Henry said he hopes Gov. Walz is able to pass the legislation.

“I think adding a day would just be pointless especially for seniors because most of us are already checked out,” Henry said.

According to Osei, the consistency of schooling has an impact on student learning, which is taken into account when school cancellations are made.

“I would say the biggest challenge is interruption to learning,” Osei said. “Besides that, it certainly interrupts other functions, but our first and foremost priority is making sure students and staff are safe, so we are always going to value that over some of the other pieces that may be impacted by this.”

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