October 24, 2014

Schools tentatively planning to follow state board’s makeup recommendation

Posted

ARENAC COUNTY — The state board of education adopted a policy statement encouraging school districts to make up snow days with full instruction days rather than by adding time, and that is currently the plan at local districts.

A statement posted on the Michigan Department of Education’s website Feb. 12 by the state school board said current state law requires at least 1,098 hours of instructional time during a school year or a minimum of 170 days. The article said state law also allows districts to cancel school up to six times per year without having to make it up, and that after six days are canceled, lost time has to be replaced for a school to receive its full amount of state aid.

A district could add time to its school days during the remainder of its schedule to replace the missed days, but the state board prefers that full days are added to the calendar instead.

“Legislation (House Bill 5285) has been introduced to allow school districts to make up those additional days beyond the six allowed by adding minutes onto each day remaining on their school calendars,” the state board’s statement said. “A better solution would be to make them up with full days of student instruction.”

Au Gres-Sims Superintendent Jeff Collier said AGS plans to add days, but said nothing is set in stone due to there being plenty of winter left.

“We want to see what the rest of the winter will do,” he said. “Should we have really bad severe weather again, it may impact or alter what we do.”

If there are no more days missed this winter due to weather, and AGS does in fact add full days on to its schedule, Collier said the final day of school would be Tuesday, June 10 rather than the originally scheduled day, Friday, June 6, since AGS has canceled school eight times.

At Standish-Sterling, where 10 days have been canceled, the final day of school has been pushed back to Monday, June 9, according to Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski. Standish-Sterling’s scheduled final day was June 3.

Kroczaleski also serves as superintendent at Arenac Eastern, where nine days have been canceled, pushing the last day from June 3 to June 6.

Although the districts are planning to add days onto the end of the schedule, Kroczaleski said it is hard to determine exactly how to go about it before April 1. After April 1, days missed due to unexpected weather, which was the case for SSC last year when an unseasonable ice storm hit the area, the state can grant waivers excusing the missed days.

SSC had days excused last year, but did not find out they were waived until May, Kroczaleski said.

“It’s pretty hard to determine when our last day will be until we get final word out of Lansing,” he said.

Collier said after April 1, AGS could make a better decision as to what will be its final school day this year.

“We continue to assess what the weather’s going to do for the rest of the year, and we’re going to make the best decision necessary after that April 1 deadline,” he said.

The state board of education’s statement said adding full instructional days to replace the canceled days gives teachers a better chance to fully cover their lesson plans.

“Full replacement days offer every student the full extent of quality instruction that they missed when the school was closed. This method allows teachers to complete their full lesson plans with integrity and provide students with the appropriate depth of instruction they need to meet their instructional goals for every class,” it said.

The state board adopted the statement in support of full instructional days Feb. 11.

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