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School Board Abolishes 'Late-start' Days

The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Board of Education has done away with the leisurely late-start, which will be replaced with two full days off for students.

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The late-start day—much-loved by students, much maligned by parents and teachers—will soon be a thing of the past for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District.

The district has long had a number of late-start days during each school year to give teachers and staff time for training, development and the parsing of data generated by No Child Left Behind. Over the 2012-2013 academic calendar there are five such days, when school starts two hours later than usual.

At a meeting on Dec. 20, the Board of Education nixed late-starts for good.

The measure originates from a discussion that began in May of 2012, when the board was considering radical changes to the school calendar in an effort to cut costs. At the time, the district was mulling over a proposal to shave 17 school days from the 2012-2013 calendar. 

The district held a series of listening sessions with parents, who were largely against the idea. The shorter school calendar ultimately failed to pass muster with the board, but the issue sparked an unexpected discussion: Parents and teachers alike complained of late-start days during listening sessions. Many wanted to eliminate them entirely.

"A lot of parents said they're just as disruptive to people who have issues with daycare," Board Member Jim Schmid said at the time.

Board Member Sandra Sweep added that at the high school level, each period is so short (just 23 minutes) that a late-start amounts to a free day, and nothing is accomplished.

Schmid lobbied hard to get rid of late-starts, instead making these five full days off for students. At the last school board meeting of 2012, Schmid finally got his wish. In 2013-2014, late-start days will be replaced with two all-day professional development days, one in November and another in February. Students will be out of school on those days. 

Further changes to the upcoming school calendar may still be afoot. Assistant Superintendent Chris Lindholm will present a proposed calendar to the school board in February.

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