NEW LONDON — The New London-Spicer School Board has approved adding three days, June 3-5, to the school year to make up time lost to snow days.
At the board’s regular meeting Monday, the board approved the motion by me- mber David Ki-lpatrick on a 5-1 vote. Board member
Helena Lu-ngstrom cast the dissenting vote, while Kilpatrick, Robert Moller, Naomi Johnson, Renee Nolting and Dan DeGeest voted for the measure. Board member Holli Cogelow Ruter was absent from the meeting.
The board action will also move two previously approved teacher workdays to June 6-7.
The district has canceled school on six days this winter: Dec. 10, Jan. 11, Feb. 11, Feb. 19, March 5 and March 18. The district also had late starts or early releases Jan. 22, Jan. 24, Jan. 31, Feb. 18, March 4 and March 19.
Students did make up one snow day Feb. 18, which was President’s Day, but that day was shortened because of snow and windy conditions.
Superintendent Paul Carlson noted that the district hasn’t had that many snow days in recent years. The last year with six snow day cancellations was the winter of 1996-97.
Carlson presented the board with options, including adding two days at the end of the school year or adding instructional time by lengthening the school day.
Kilpatrick’s motion added one more day than the administration recommendation. He reacted strongly to Lungstrom’s question about what students would receive from coming back for additional days at the end of the year.
“(The students get) education. We are more than teaching for the tests,” Kilpatrick said. “We are two weeks back on certain subjects.”
The district has lost so much time that, even if the school day was extended for a time, the board would still need to add days at the end of the school year, Johnson reasoned, adding that school could still be canceled or delayed for foggy conditions.
“We need to make up at least three days,” she said. “The safety of the kids is first and foremost, but we need to make up those days for their education.
High School Principal Kevin Acquard explained that the senior student schedule would be adjusted so that the last school day for seniors would be May 30. The class trip is set for May 31. Graduation will remain June 2.
The board also briefly discussed a portion of the budget process that hasn’t yet been discussed at meetings, the possibility of adding a second school resource officer at Prairie Woods Elementary. The estimated cost of the 8-month contract with the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office is $55,881. The district already has one sheriff’s deputy working in the middle and high school building.
Nolting questioned if such an arrangement is typical for other similar districts. The situation isn’t typical, Carlson said, as neither New London nor Spicer has city police departments, so they rely on the Sheriff’s Office for police protection.
The flip side of the school’s situation is that the communities rely on the school resource officer, who is sometimes called away from the school to respond to calls in the communities.
“We don’t have that local police force that we can rely on,” Carlson said, adding that he’s had discussions with Sheriff Dan Hartog about setting up the new contract in a similar fashion to the existing resource officer and that the deputy placed in the schools would be an experienced officer who also provides educational programming for students.