Classes start early in some Minnesota schoolsby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Classes have already started for Minnesota students in a handful of public school districts, although most won't start until after Labor Day.
State law forbids public school districts from starting before Labor Day, which falls on Sept. 7 this year, unless there's an ongoing or looming construction project.
Schools in Milaca started Tuesday because the building will be renovated next summer -- and ending the school year by Memorial Day will give crews enough time to get the work done.
Superintendent Jerry Hansen says the early start wasn't a big deal.
"Kids are always excited to come to school, and whenever we'd start they will be excited to be there," said Hansen. "And then, in May, they're starting to get geared up and excited for summertime."
In St. James, classes at the high school started today, and elementary and middle school will open start next week.
Schools in Minneapolis, Fergus Falls, Hopkins, and St. Louis Park also all start next week.
An effort to change the Labor Day rule fell short this spring at the Capitol. School officials argued to have more days in their calendars before those springtime standardized tests.
But resorts and other tourism interests, including the Minnesota State Fair, say they need the teens for hired help during the last big weekend of the summer
Earlier this summer, a bid by 13 school districts in southwest Minnesota to start school early this year and share a common calendar was rejected by the state Education Department.
The districts wanted permission to start Aug. 24. The aim was to start the same day as nearby colleges, to make it easier for high school students who take courses at those colleges.
Those colleges include Minnesota State University, Mankato, all Minnesota West Community College campuses, and Southwest Minnesota State College in Marshall.
They were applying to the state under the Flexible Learning Year law, the same law that allowed the MACCRAY district in southern Minnesota to move to a four-day week last year as a way to save money.
The department said at the time that the application was rejected because they did not meet all of the requirements of the Flexible Learning Year law. But the agency also encouraged the schools to work with state officials to resubmit the proposal for the 2010-11.
The districts that were seeking the early start for the 2009-2010 were: Adrian, Cedar Mountain, Edgerton, Hills Beaver Creek, Luverne Milroy, Minneota, Mountain Lake, Pipestone, Redwood Area, Springfield, Tracy and Westbrook Walnut Grove.