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School Board approves 2019-20 calendar

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 — At its meeting on March 11, the South St. Paul (SSP) School Board approved the academic calendar for the 2019-20 school year. SSP students will start school this fall on Tuesday, Sept. 3 and the last day for students is slated to be Wednesday, June 3, 2020.

Dr. Chad Schmidt, director of learning and chair of the calendar committee, highlighted significant dates in the 2019-20 calendar that are important for families, adding that some represent changes from current practice.

  • Flipping paper calendar  FALL BREAK - for the past several years, SSP students have had a week off in October, which historically has aligned with Education Minnesota’s annual teacher convention. This year, students will be in session through Wednesday, Oct. 16, with teachers working a professional day on Thursday and then off on Friday of that week.

  • THANKSGIVING - SSP Students and families will have an extended weekend over the Thanksgiving holiday, with the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 27) marked as a non-school day, and the Monday after (Dec. 2) as a staff professional day.  
  • WINTER BREAK - SSP students will be off Dec. 22 through Jan. 1 for Winter Break, returning to school on Thursday, Jan. 2.

  • SPRING BREAK - Spring Break is planned for March 6-13, which is similar to this year’s calendar.

“Additionally, next year we are shifting the development of parent-teacher conference plans to the individual school level,” said Schmidt. “In our efforts to improve parent communication and create better partnerships between school and home, we believe building level teams can best develop  alternative conference models that are in alignment with individual school needs.” Thus, rather than include set dates in the calendar for conferences on a district-wide basis, schools are instead developing their own conference schedules for 2019-20 and will communicate their plans directly to families prior to the start of the school year.

“Our goal is to create more opportunities for families to meet face-to-face with teachers, especially in the evening to better accommodate parent work schedules,” Schmidt added. “We hope that in providing more ways to have these important conversations that we are able to be more proactive in our communications with families and in turn, improve student engagement and achievement.”

Schmidt noted that principals and teachers are already working on their building conference plans for next year, which will be communicated to families on or before Aug. 15. He added that because of the numerous school cancellations this year and a student makeup day already scheduled for next month, the Secondary School has an opportunity to try out alternative conferences this spring, as April 19 had originally been scheduled as a parent-teacher conference day at the school. “We will be able to learn from this opportunity and make adjustments as needed for next year.”

On a related note, Superintendent Dave Webb shared that the district is currently working with teacher representatives in developing a digital/e-learning learning plan in which students would participate in online or alternative instruction and learning experiences rather than lose a day of instruction due to weather or other emergency cancellation. In accordance with state statute, the plan will be presented to the School Board for approval later this spring and shared with all families prior to the start of the 2019-20 school year.