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Four-day plan to remain in place at ACGC in west central Minnesota

GROVE CITY — The state has given the OK for the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District to continue its four-day school schedule.

Superintendent Sherri Broderius was notified this week that the Minnesota Department of Education had approved the district’s re-application to continue the flexible learning schedule for another three years.

The district implemented the new schedule in the 2010-11 school year but was required to re-apply for another three years.

“I was worried initially that we might not get the renewal,” said Broderius. “Not because we didn’t have the right data. We did, but because I was told by someone at (the Department of Education) that Governor Dayton does not like the four-day week,” said Broderius on Tuesday.

She said that concern “fueled my passion” to show the state how ACGC has been innovative in how it uses the Mondays when students are not in school, including student enrichment and teacher professional development that is designed to increase student achievement.

ACGC initially implemented the four-day week to save money and build the district’s fund balances, said Broderius.

Depending on what utility fees and fuel costs total, she said the district saves about $100,000 annually by operating on a Tuesday-to-Friday schedule.

That money is used to fund additional support for student proficiency in reading and math and create a healthy fund balance for the district.

Broderius had, in fact, been concerned that the district’s higher fund balance might send the message that the district did not have a financial hardship and could be a reason for the state to deny the four-day schedule. At least one district had its initial application rejected this year because of its high fund balance.

Broderius said she was “elated, ecstatic and enthusiastic” that those who studied their application “saw the work ACGC administration, teachers and students are doing to increase learning.”

She said she is encouraged the district can begin to “dive even more deeply into an even more sophisticated method of teacher professional development than we have had in the past.”

During the re-application review, the state asked the district to provide additional information. Broderius said at one time in the process she was told that ACGC’s application may be used as a model for the state. “If that really is the case, I believe they wanted to make sure it was an application that would meet their needs as well as communicate our information to them,” she said.

Broderius said she hopes to continue to work with the Education Department to help them understand the four-day week and how and why it works.

“I believe at ACGC we are showing great innovation in how we educate our students,” she said. “And the four-day week process is an aid in that work.”

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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