Minneapolis school board members voted Tuesday night to scrap the last two days of the school year.
School officials note that even though the district has the longest school year in the metro area, its student academic outcomes haven't improved.
With its 176 school days, Minneapolis has the longest year of any public school district in the metro area. Dropping two days makes the district's school year as long as South Washington County's and St. Anthony-New Brighton's, according to state data documenting last school year's lengths.
Charter schools still boast the longest school years, with some calendars close to 200 instructional days.
Officials said they wanted to see if a longer school year — 11 days above the state minimum — would push test scores higher. Instead, Minneapolis' achievement gap has persisted.
Superintendent Ed Graff said in December that cutting school days could save $1 million per day. That could help the district with a projected $33 million budget deficit for the next school year.
After opposition arose from teachers, Graff and his administration cited other reasons. They say they saw an uptick in student and staff absences as the school year trailed later into June.
Summer temperatures heat up buildings that aren't air-conditioned. And the district heard from many parents that student learning fell as the year pressed further into the summer. The change will "solely address the student calendar and the expectations of students," Graff said at Tuesday's meeting.
The issue has divided parents and district employees. In an online survey from mostly white parents and employees, respondents supported the shorter calendar.
But respondents of color weren't as supportive.
The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers said in a bargaining update in October that a shorter year would mean a 1 percent pay cut to teachers this school year. "It's becoming clear that administration is failing to understand the value of its educators," MFT wrote in its update.
District officials now say the decision to shorten the school year for students is separate from plans with employee bargaining groups around the total number of staff workdays.
The district foreshadows more potential calendar changes on the horizon, like snipping off the first few days of the 2018-19 year to begin school post-Labor Day. School officials have batted around other possible savings spots to deal with its finance woes, such as pitching a $30 million referendum to voters in November. Final decisions will surface in coming weeks.
Also Tuesday, the Minneapolis school board elected Nelson Inz as chairman.
Across the river in St. Paul Tuesday, Zuki Ellis, a first-term school board member, moved from vice chair to board chairwoman.
Star Tribune staff writer Anthony Lonetree contributed to this story.