School board split on decision to switch to seven-period day

By Chad Koenen


The Henning School District will keep an eight-period day for the 2022-23 school year.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday night, the Henning School Board approved keeping an eight-period day after hearing concerns from members of the Henning Education Association. The vote to continue with an eight-period day was approved by a 4-2 motion with Reed Reinbold and Matt Reinbold voting in dissent.

In a joint statement to the school board, representatives from the HEA expressed several concerns over the proposed change to a seven-period day. The group stated the current eight-period day has been in place for a number of years and works well for teachers and students. 

According to the joint statement, staff members voted in favor of keeping the current model and said it would like more dialogue concerning the proposed changes, especially since the proposed changes were introduced so soon after a new contract with the teachers union was approved by the school district. 

Henning School Superintendent Melissa Sparks said having a seven period day would allow for better utilization of staff time and could reduce the amount of hours in which there isn’t much to offer students as elective options. 

A big question on Tuesday night concerned prep hour, which would be reduced from two periods in an eight-hour day to just one period, plus a study hall supervision in a seven-period day. 

School board members Matt Reinbold and Reed Reinbold both spoke in favor of a change to a seven-period day after speaking with several school districts in the region. Among the positives of a change to a seven-period day they heard was it was the most efficient schedule for students, it was financially and budget friendly and felt it was the best use of staff time. 

Other school board members expressed a hesitation with making the change after hearing concerns from staff members during Tuesday’s meeting.

School board member Deb Hart said there were valid points raised in holding off on making a change to the schedule for the upcoming year. Among her concerns was transparency with parents concerning the change and potentially pushing the change to the schedule too quickly. 

Meanwhile, board member Terry Oscarson asked if the change should be negotiated with the teachers union. She also spoke about the importance of listening to staff members who expressed concerns in making the change to a seven-period day. 

School board member Rod Thalmann agreed that there were good concepts on both sides of the aisle and said the decision concerning a seven or eight-period day was one of the hardest ones he had to make on his time on the school board. At this time he said he had a hard time going against the wishes of a majority of staff members.

School board member Kim Haugen agreed that it was important that staff members buy into a potential change to the schedule and having stability in the schedule in what has been used at Henning School is important as well.

A motion to stay with an eight-period day was approved by the school board by a 4-2 vote with Reed Reinbold and Matt Reinbold voting in dissent. 

In other news

• Approved the 2022-23 school calendar. As part of the calendar the first day of school will be Tuesday, Sept. 6 and the final day of school will be on Thursday, May 25, 2023. Student contact days, if a half day was counted as the same as a full day, would be decreased next year from 172 days to 170 days. However, student contact days when counting half days as half days will remain the same at 169.5 days as the district eliminated all-but two early out days. Sparks said converting some of the half days into full days of school provides for a better day of learning for students and staff members. 

• Approved joining the Heart O’ Lakes fishing league. Sparks had a recent meeting with students with 17 people expressing an interest in joining the league. 

• Approved $4,928 for the purchase of a shot clock for school gym. The Minnesota State High School League will begin requiring shot clocks for basketball in the future.

• Heard that participation in softball is at 60 students in grades 7-12 (up from 46 last year) and baseball is at 67 students (up from 50 last year).

• Heard the monthly enrollment report which shows that there are 341 students in grades K-12. That is up four students from last month, but down from 351 students on Sept. 13, 2021.

• Accepted the resignation of Cindy Feda as elementary teacher. She currently teaches kindergarten.

• Designated April 18, Easter Monday, as a snow make up day if the school district has a fourth snow day. Any additional snow days would be made up at the end of the school year.

• Approved setting a work session prior to the April 18 school board meeting. The work session will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the regularly scheduled meeting to follow.