Schools adjust schedules due to snow days|
A new state statute is easing the calendars of northwoods school districts that saw their scheduled buffeted by winter snowstorms.
Antigo, Elcho and White Lake are among districts statewide taking advantage of a recently enacted state law eliminating the requirement that students attend school for at least 180 days a year.
The law, which took effect immediately after its passage earlier this spring, came at an opportune time, as districts were wrangling with how to make up days lost to winter snow, ice, cold and—in Antigo’s case—water line freeze-ups.
According to Mary Jo Filbrandt, director of business services at Antigo, the district lost four full days of school, plus several partial days when students were released early due to inclement weather. Several in-city schools, including West Elementary and the Middle School, lost additional time when water lines froze beneath the streets.
Filbrandt said three snow days were built into the school calendar, but students will still have to attend one extra day—Thursday, June 5—to round out the year.
The remaining time is being made up through a few added minutes to the daily schedules at the affected schools, she said.
Elcho and White Lake each lost four days due to weather, but District Administrator Bill Fisher said the year won’t be extended, due in part to the flexibility allowed by the state law.
“Without that we would have needed to make up the days,” Fisher said.
At Elcho, 10 minutes were added to the school day, creating a large enough block of instructional time to make up the difference.
White Lake handled the situation differently, canceling four early-release days in favor of full student contact days to make up the difference.
Elcho will adjourn for the year, as scheduled, on Friday, June 6, and White Lake on Thursday, June 5.
While creating flexibility regarding the number of days, school districts must still adhere to the required number of hours in an educational year.
Other districts across the state are reporting similar decisions.
Altoona Superintendent Connie Bierdron says the school board decided this week that the last two days of classes that were added because of snow days will be eliminated. The last day of classes will be June 11.
The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram says Cadott schools will also end earlier than originally planned after adding 10 minutes to each school day.
The bill was introduced by State Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon.
“Especially this year, with all the snow and the cold days people are looking at, ‘OK, we have the hours so do we really need to keep going to the middle of June?’” Olsen said.
Under the old rules, have hours of instruction which ranges from 437 to more than 1,100 hours depending on the level. Schools also must be in session for 180 days. Under Olsen’s bill, the number of hours stayed, but the day rule was erased.
Educators around the state have said fewer days in school buildings could save money. But too long of school days could be unproductive.
State Schools Superintendent Tony Evers supported getting rid of the 180-day rule.
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