Four Washington County-area school districts will add one or two days to their calendars this year to compensate for time lost when schools closed due to bitter cold this winter.

Officials in the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale district voted to add Feb. 28 and March 7, both previously designated as staff development and/or conference days, to the calendar.

The Stillwater Area Public Schools took a similar approach by selecting Feb. 17, which had been planned as a professional development day for staff, to be a makeup day. All schools will be in session, with the exception of Valley Crossing Community School.

The White Bear Lake Area Schools chose to convert Feb. 14 and April 4, both professional development or planning days, to instructional days, after school was canceled four times districtwide in January. The district serves all or parts of Hugo, as well as Birchwood, Gem Lake, Lino Lakes, Little Canada, Maplewood, North Oaks, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake and White Bear Township.

The Forest Lake Area Schools added two school days, Feb. 17 and March 31, to the calendar after students missed five days over two months because of the subzero temperatures.

Mahtomedi Public Schools added three makeup days: Feb. 21, on what had been a staff development/conference day; March 28, also a staff development/conference day, when high school and middle school students will have school, but elementary students will not. School will also now be open on June 9, unless “there is a relief from the Minnesota Legislature for the day Governor Dayton closed school,” officials said.

The South Washington County School District was the lone holdout. Officials there said the school board voted at its Feb. 6 meeting against scheduling any makeup days despite the recent closures, based “on the work our teachers have been doing to ensure that all requirements are met.”

“In addition, the 2013-14 calendar includes a total of 174 student contact days, well in excess of the legislative requirement of 165 days of student contact,” officials said on the district’s website. They added that in the event of any future school closings, April 18 has been identified as a likely makeup date.

Cottage Grove

French students win award

For a second consecutive year, the International Baccalaureate (IB) French program at Park High School can take pride in its students’ creativity.

Five upper-level French students were honored for “most creative presentation” for a skit involving raccoons and black bears during the annual French Language Day outing at the Minnesota Zoo on Feb. 4.

Last year, a group of Park High students captured the honor for a presentation involving sharks, stingrays and sea otters.

The zoo sponsors special world language days in February for students in grades 7-12 plus elementary students who take part in language immersion programs.

As part of the event, upper-level students were allowed to use costumes, music and props to interpret various animal exhibits. The skits were performed entirely in French and typically require weeks of preparation.

The Park High students involved in this year’s skit were Amanda Grein, Nathan Grosse, Carlotta Schlusen, Alicia Taylor and Nicole Willhite.

An American Sign Language Day is held in April.


Libor Jany, Anthony Lonetree