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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Tim Miller (R)

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

ST. PAUL – In an effort to give more local control to area school districts, State Representative Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) is authoring legislation that would hand flexible school scheduling decisions – such as a four-day school week or beginning the school year before Labor Day – to school boards. Currently, these decisions are made by Minnesota’s education commissioner.

“I’ve always believed that the best local decisions should be made by locally elected officials,” Miller said. “Individual school boards should not have to beg the state government bureaucracy to implement a flexible schedule that is overwhelmingly favored by students, teachers, and residents. They should have the power to make that common sense decision for themselves.”

Miller points to the MACCRAY school district – comprised of students from Maynard, Clara City, and Raymond and surrounding communities – as a flexible school scheduling success story. Seven years ago, MACCRAY was the first Minnesota school district allowed to have a four-day school week, and Miller says the change has been very successful.

Miller says a survey conducted among MACCRAY parents found that 90 percent of respondents approve of having Mondays off. Besides cost savings, MACCRAY has discovered many other unexpected benefits of flexible scheduling, including teachers being able to meet with each other on Mondays and students being able to get extra help during that time. If MACCRAY has a snow day, it is made up on a Monday so the end of the school year is not extended.

Miller and State Senator Lyle Koenen (DFL-Clara City) recently met with MACCRAY school officials and discussed how the education commissioner wants the school to return to a five-day week. Miller pledged to support the efforts of MACCRAY – and any other rural school district – that wants to make a flexible school scheduling decision on its own.

“Our schools are one of the most important components of our communities, and we need to ensure that we’re helping them thrive,” Miller said. “This bipartisan bill will do that by giving school boards the freedom to choose the scheduling that best fits their needs.”