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READ Act: state mandate and potential calendar adjustments

March 21, 2024
This was emailed to staff and families on March 21, 2024 and is also available on our Announcements webpage.

Dear Sartell-St. Stephen Families:

To accommodate state-mandated teacher training for the Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act, our District will be seeking school board approval to amend our 2024-2025 calendar to include one early release day a month for seven months.

It is important for all families to read this email to learn more about state-mandated teacher training. At this time, we are requesting families with students who will be in K-5 next school year to complete the form linked below.

State Mandate: READ Act
The Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act, a bill passed in the last state legislative session, requires school districts in Minnesota to provide intensive training to teachers on the Science of Reading within a two-year period. In order to meet this state mandate, districts across Minnesota need to adjust school calendars to allow for the appropriate amount of time for this training to occur beginning after July 1, 2024 as mandated by the state.

School Calendar: Adding Teacher Training
To add state-mandated teacher training to an already robust schedule is a challenge for everyone; not only are teacher schedules impacted, we know that our families, students, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, and all of our other staff will also be affected.

Our district’s best option to complete this training will be to utilize a combination of typically scheduled professional development days along with seven early release days (likely Wednesday afternoons) for the next two years. 

Input Needed from K-5 Families
We have been working with our transportation department, KIDSTOP (childcare provided by the Boys & Girls Club of Central Minnesota), and other district staff to accommodate students and families during these seven early release afternoons. 

Because our K-5 students may be the most in need of supervision during these early releases, we are asking families to help us plan for transportation and staffing: Will your students likely be picked up, ride the bus, or opt in for a KIDSTOP childcare option at no charge for the remaining 2 hours of the regularly-scheduled school time?

Please note: the form is NOT an official request for transportation next year. Rather, it is for initial planning purposes for our early release dates to accommodate state-mandated READ Act training and your input will help us prepare and coordinate with appropriate staff. 

Families who have students who will be in Kindergarten through Grade 5 for Fall 2024 should complete this form for every K-5 student in their household. Please provide your feedback by Tuesday, April 2 so staff may review and determine a plan that best serves the needs of family schedules and, ultimately, enhances student learning. 

Learn more: READ Act
Our ​D​istrict selected Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) as the training program to best meet the state’s first wave of Science of Reading training requirement. LETRS was selected due to its robust, research-based content in an effort to better ensure our teachers receive the best training possible which in turn will have the greatest likelihood of positively impacting our students. LETRS is a two-year program that requires over 140 hours of professional development training. To learn more about the READ Act, please listen to episode 12 of our Sabre Speaks podcast (

Tom Lee
Interim Superintendent