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4-day school week continues for some districts

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Students in the Lake Superior School District get Fridays off – and will keep getting Fridays off for at least another school year.

The northeastern Minnesota district, which comprises three different schools, got the OK from the state's Department of Education to continue operating on a four-day school week.

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The Lake Superior district said at a February meeting it saves nearly $168,000 a year by having the day off. And according to Northland's NewsCenter, a recent survey found 86 percent of parents said their kids adjusted just fine to the difference.

Who is currently on a four-day school week?

There are eight school districts currently operating on four days a week.

The Lake Superior District was one of five given approval to continue with a four-day school week for the upcoming 2015-16 year only, the others being Blackduck, Ogilvie, MACCRAY and Pelican Rapids, a Department of Education spokesperson told BringMeTheNews.

In addition, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Public Schools and Warroad Public Schools are currently on a four-day week, but did not apply to continue that next year.

And Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City Public Schools was approved through July 2016 a couple years ago, so they didn't have to reapply for a renewal this year.

In a letter to the Lake Superior district Wednesday (which you can read below), Cassellius cited the possible law change as a reason she approved the five districts' requests for one more year, rather than three as usual.

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Who gives approval?

Currently, a district can only operate on a four-day school week if the state's Department of Education Commissioner (currently Brenda Cassellius) says it's OK. Approval has to be reapplied for every three years.

A proposal that would allow school districts to decide whether or not to continue with four-day school weeks is in the House's current omnibus education bill.

Last year, MPR reported the department, noting student test scores weren't noticeably better on the shorter schedule, was forcing a number of districts to revert to five-day school weeks. This despite many of the dozen or so districts on a shorter week reporting significant savings, and apparently having the support of many families.

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Districts struggle with state approval for shorter school weeks

Minnesota school officials considering the change to a four-day school week are having trouble getting approval from the state. Sleepy Eye's request was recently denied by the state's education chief, who cited the impact on students who receive free and reduced lunches. Many districts also say the application process for a shorter school week is extraordinarily complex.