Officials at 25 schools in southwestern Minnesota are preparing applications for another Flexible Learning Year. The three-year application is a collaborative effort to improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness. Cooperative Spokesperson Gary Fisher says that member schools will continue the initiative to increase student test scores, which did not improve as much as they’d hoped in the initial 3 years. Flexible Learning Year schools start the academic year in late August, rather than the day after Labor Day. School districts in the local area that participate in the program include Sleepy Eye, Springfield, Comfrey, Redwood Falls, and Westbrook-Walnut Grove.