What's next for the students of the Crosby-Ironton School District?
In a discombobulated school year that's seen students in individual grades invited back to classes taught by replacement teachers, C-I School Board chair Scott Kile Thursday announced plans that will have all grades back in session by April 11.
Sixth-graders returned to class Thursday, leaving only the students in grades 7-10 without the opportunity to return to school.
Kile said current plans call for sophomores to return to class by Wednesday and grades 7-9 to return to classes two days a week by April 11. That plan would have the district, whose teachers went on strike Feb. 9, offering classes for the entire kindergarten- through 12th-grade system.
Kile outlined plans for those students who have either been home-schooled or who have returned as classes have reopened. Other students who have enrolled in nearby districts would be subject to whatever policies exist there. As for students who chose not to return to classes at all, Kile said the board has not yet reached a decision on their status.
For all other students, Kile outlined the district's plans regarding grade advancement.
* Seniors and home-school students will graduate May 12. Home-school students must complete their course work and hand in their grades before graduation.
* Senior students' grade point average is based on their first semester grade point average.
* Kindergarten- through 11th-grade students will advance to the next grade and, like the seniors, will be awarded a semester grade. The grade, however, will not affect their overall grade point average because of the extraordinary circumstances of the strike.
"Once again, we want to make it as easy as possible to meet their course requirements," he said, speaking of the returning students.
The seventh-graders through ninth-graders, who will attend school twice a week starting April 11, will have a six period day with each period lasting 60 minutes.
He said he's hopeful the returning students will learn what they need to in order to pass the state basic skills tests. The district will also work to make sure that needs of students are met, such as certain classes they need for college acceptance, Kile said.
He said there will be a degree of "curriculum-crunching" because of the 52-day strike in which 35 school days have been missed by teachers.
"I think it's reasonable that some students will be behind because of the strike," he said. "There has been some condensing. We have some latitude with this because of the strike and lost time."
Bill Walsh, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Education, said his department has no particular guidelines in terms of school days that must be made up by the district. The state's primary interest is that students pass the basic skills test.
"In the end, Minnesota is a local control state for education," he said.
While the state has a set number of days during which school should be in session, there's really no enforcement, he said. School districts aren't forced to make up snow days or days lost for unusual or tragic circumstances such as the recent school closing at the Red Lake schools.
Gail Gustafson, the mother of three students, said her sixth-grade daughter, Kristine, was excited to return to school Thursday. She was pleased that plans are being made for her daughters, Danielle, grade 10, and Stacey, grade 8, to return to school.
She said the strike has been extremely frustrating for school parents and for children.
"They've got some pretty harsh feelings," Gustafson said. "They feel they've been gypped."
She said her family decided not to transfer to Pequot Lakes because all three of the children wouldn't be allowed to attend that district due to limited openings. The children didn't want to switch to the Brainerd School District because they wanted to stay with their friends and take part in extracurricular activities.
MIKE O'ROURKE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5860.
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