Photo by Neita Cecil
Snow finally did in this small storage shed at West 10th and Irvine, by Wahtonka Community School. The building belongs to the school district and was used to store old, non-working items. It was roped off with caution tape after the collapse, which was reported on Sunday.
As of Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Last week, District 21 Superintendent Candy Armstrong updated the Chronicle about calendar changes to make up for snow days.
Armstrong said, “We’re in pretty good shape as long as we don’t have” —and she paused to chuckle at the potential futility of the comment — “more days off because of snow.”
The next day, Thursday, Feb. 9, schools were closed due to bad weather.
In its latest round of schedule changes to accommodate for snow make-up days, the district has made Monday, Feb. 20 a school day for students, cancelled all late start/early release days in March, and has made Friday, May 26 – the day before Memorial Day weekend – a school day.
The changes “allow us to get some really good instructional time in before students need to be tested,” she said of the February and March schedule changes. State testing occurs after spring break, which is the last week in March.
Earlier, the district added one instructional day in early February and extended the current trimester by a week.
The May 26 school day – which was initially put in the calendar as a makeup day for teachers who have to stay late for parent-teacher conferences – was put in the calendar “to give our seniors a few more hours,” before graduation, Armstrong said.
In late January, after complaints from school districts statewide that meeting current state rules would force some districts to be in class until July to make up for snow days, the state board of education temporarily reinstated a rule that allows districts to waive up to 14 hours of instructional time lost due to weather.
Ironically, the state had removed that 14-hour wiggle-room rule just last year, to take effect this school year.
Before the Feb. 9 snow day, Armstrong said the district still had enough hours to not need to utilize the 14-hour waiver.
She said, “If things go well we should get along without having to apply for any waiver at all because so far, knock on wood — now it may be different tomorrow morning — but right now, with the latest changes, our projected hours for the elementary schools will be 918.5, and they require 900 for elementary. Our middle school will be at 953.5 and again they’re required to have 900. Our high school will be at 1015.3 for freshmen through juniors and they’re required to have 990. And our seniors will be at 991.5 and they’re required to have 966.”
Even with the loss of instructional time on Feb. 9, it does not appear any grade level will go below state minimums. So far, the district has had nine snow days and seven late-start days.
On Wednesdays, the district has a late start/early release schedule. The middle school and high school start late, and the grade schools are released early. In all of March, they will stick with a full-day schedule.
The district chose to eliminate late starts for all of March for two reasons. “Number one, it will give us a good solid month of concentrating on instruction before the testing window,” Armstrong said. Second, it will let parents know that the modified schedule will stay the same through all of March, to reduce any confusion.
And while the schedule has taken a hit from the weather, a small building belonging to the school district saw its roof collapse over the weekend due to snow. The white building was used to store some old, non-working equipment, a district official said.
The building is at the base of the driveway leading up to the district administrative offices, near Wahtonka Community School. It has been roped off with caution tape.