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School board awaits state OK on four-day

Blackduck School Board members Monday voted to operate on a four-day week in the coming year, even as Blackduck Superintendent Bob Doetsch cautioned that the state Department of Education has not yet approved the idea.

The board action came as members discussed what might happen if the state's approval is not forthcoming. They heard board chairman Dale Compton report that he has personally talked with 172 parents to get their opinions, "and I'm not done calling yet."

Of those he reached, Compton said 130 were in favor, 29 were opposed and 13 said it made no difference.

He noted that of the 29 parents speaking against the shortened week, only four said day-care had proved to be a problem, though it had been cited most often as a concern when the idea was debated at public meetings a year ago.

Looking at what might happen if the state rejects the shorter week, there was extended talk of how other districts in Minnesota have either already switched to the four-day format, or are planning to in the 2010-2011 school year.

It was also emphasized that having to revert to the traditional week, staff cuts already announced would be followed by the laying off of three more teachers, with subsequent loss of electives and probable cuts in extracurricular activities.

There was no good news in a report on the meeting with state legislators who visited Blackduck a few days earlier and warned that the legislature is unlikely to do anything beyond promises for the future.