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District solves snow day dilemma

Morris Area School District students will spend extra time in school each day beginning April 13.

The district school board met Thursday and finalized a plan that will add 21 minutes to each school day to make up for time lost due to class cancellations because of poor weather.

Class also will be in session on April 13, which had been designated as an Easter weekend holiday, said district Superintendent Scott Monson.

"There's no easy answer for make-up days," Monson said. "Ultimately, it was decided that everybody wants to avoid going into June."

Morris Area classes conclude for the school year with graduation on May 29.

Under the board's plan, the extended days will begin on Monday, April 13.

School will start 10 minutes earlier each day and will end 11 minutes later. The plan adds three minutes to each of the school's seven class periods.

On the final day of classes on Friday, May 29, the schedule will resume at regular times.

On Wednesday, May 13, classes are scheduled to begin two hours late, and the day will end at regular times, Monson said.

The school district will contact families about the time changes through its instant alert system, mailings and through the media, Monson said.

"We talked about a lot of options," he said. "But we all decided that coming back for one day in June would not be productive."

In other district business:

• The board approved hiring Dylan Viss for a science teaching position.

Viss succeeds Gene Holmgren, who is retiring after this school year.

• Teacher Diane Nelson submitted her notice of retirement.

• The district finalized OPEB details. The board earlier approved selling bonds to cover Other Post-Employment Benefits.

Paying its OPEB requirements through the bonds allows the district to free up the money it had been using for the benefits in its General Fund.

• The district reviewed state budget forecasts and activities.

This week, Democratic Senate leader proposed budget cuts that would amount to an additional $296 per student reduction in aid. The district already expects to lose $66 per student for next school year, Monson said.

"We're already going backward (in per-student funding) from this year to next," Monson said. "To throw in another $296 per student, that's very, very challenging."

Monson said he's confident the $66 reduction "will be th extent of it," but that the one constant in state budgeting for schools this year is uncertainty.

With retirements and other planned cost reductions, Monson said he believes the district can handle its deficit without having to reduce staffing levels.

Currently, the district is projecting a $170,000 shortfall in its next budget, Monson said.