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Board OKs calendar that starts after Labor Day

By Elliot Mann

emann@postbulletin.com

Keeping an eye on what could happen at the state Legislature, the Rochester School Board formally accepted its 2009-2010 school calendar Tuesday.

The calendar follows the state law that districts can’t start school before Labor Day, but staff members also drafted another schedule in case legislation changes that.

The approved calendar starts school on Sept. 8.

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Under the alternate calendar, school would start Aug. 31, said interim director of human resources LaToiya Glass. That schedule never made it past a district committee, though, and has not been voted on.

Rochester DFL Rep. Kim Norton, a former school board member, is pushing two bills that would change what has become an annual statewide grumblefest between the tourism industry and school officials.

One of the bills would repeal the law prohibiting schools to start before Labor Day. The other would place a two-year moratorium on the law. Labor Day falls late on the calendar in the next two years — Sept. 7 this year and Sept. 6 in 2010.

Board chairwoman Mechelle Severson said the district would prefer to start earlier, if possible.

"Local control is important," Severson said. "I think we would be able to do a lot of things if we had a little more flexibility."

Glass said starting earlier allows the district to end school earlier, before summer days make things uncomfortable in buildings without air conditioning. Also, an earlier start would give students taking advanced placement courses to get a jump on course work.

If Norton’s legislation passes, Severson said, it is unknown if the district could take advantage of it this year.

To see the official calendar, go to Postbulletin.com/weblinks.

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Weblinks: Rochester public schools’ 2009-2010 school calendar, https://www.boarddocs.com/mn/rps535/Board.nsf/d92cf1810d14c92a8725731b0060cd12/9cca0e35a692a88887257555006a2953/$FILE/2009-2010%20District%20Calendar.pdf

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