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Frazee School ponders when to dismiss school for state events

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To dismiss or not to dismiss: That is the question.

If a Frazee-Vergas School District athletic team makes it to the state competition, and 80 students are signed up to travel to the Twin Cities and attend the event, school is canceled.

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But, Monday night at the school board meeting, the board and staff discussed if 80 is a fair number, whether school should be canceled at all, should teachers be allowed to go and what's the fairest way to determine when school should be canceled and when it shouldn't be.

Activities Director Dave Trautman said the number 80 was a random number set a few years ago, likely because that's the number for two busses to go down to attend the event.

"Are we consistent and fair no matter what we do across the board?" He said that's the main goal.

The Frazee wrestling team and dance team have made it to state competition several times.

He said he also took a poll of section 6A schools and received about 20 responses on whether those districts canceled school or not.

A few districts had a number threshold like Frazee does, a couple said sometimes yes and sometimes no, and the majority replied no, they don't call off school.

In general, many of the districts that don't cancel classes tend to have athletes that make it to the state level more often, while those that cancel school are more likely to only have gone to state only a time or two.

Board member Ken Fett said he felt that the number 80 was too high, and that students should be allowed to go support their team.

And while many board members agreed that 80 is a high number -- it doesn't include those students in the sport that are already going to the competition -- having a threshold was a fair way to determine whether school would be canceled or not, regardless of the sport or event.

Superintendent Chuck Cheney also pointed out that while school is closed that day, it's made up another day, not just canceled.

If the threshold isn't met and school isn't canceled, the board discussed what to do about teachers that want to attend the state sporting event because their child or relative is on the team.

It's in teaching contracts that no more than four teachers may be gone from the district at once. Cheney said if the board wanted, he could discuss with the Frazee Education Association about making a change because that would deviate from the contracts.

Board member Dana Laine said she understands and supports teachers being able to travel down to the events, but she also wanted to know what the cost would be to the district to have to pay so many substitute teachers to fill in that day.

If a new threshold is set, it will go into effect next school year, to be fair.

"We're open to other ways of thinking about this," Cheney said of a school dismissal policy.

"Whatever direction you go, we'll work with it," Trautman agreed.

The policy committee will be taking a look at the issue and bringing a recommendation to the board in the future.

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