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Paying for winter: Clark County school districts extend school year, tack on extra minutes to make up for unusually high number of snow days

Kelly Moyer, Reporter
Joanna Yorke, Reporter
ClarkCountyToday.com

CLARK COUNTY — Across Clark County, school district leaders are trying to remedy an unusually high number of missed instructional days that were delayed or canceled due to snow, ice and other inclement winter weather during the 2016-2017 school year.

 

Many school districts in the area, including Vancouver Public Schools and the Evergreen Public Schools, have requested emergency waivers from the state’s superintendent of public instruction to help alleviate a state mandate requiring 180 days of instruction. Following is an update on what each school district in Clark County is doing to make up for snow days in December and January.

Area students had more than a few days off due to inclimate weather, during which they could play in the snow, or make snow creatures such as these that were spotted in Ridgefield in January. Photo by Mike Schultz
Area students had more than a few days off due to inclimate weather, during which they could play in the snow, or make snow creatures such as these that were spotted in Ridgefield in January. Photo by Mike Schultz

Battle Ground School District

Battle Ground Public Schools has developed a plan for students to make up the schools days that were missed this year due to the inclement weather, and has tentatively set the last day of school for Fri., June 23.

 

To meet Washington state’s school attendance requirements, Battle Ground’s plan extends the school calendar at the end of the year, eliminates some early release days and includes a request to the state to waive some of the missed days.

 

This plan could be altered if additional inclement weather impacts the school calendar. The waiver request must meet state requirements, including providing students with a minimum 1,027 instructional hours during the year and making up a minimum of of three of the missed school days.

 

The changes to the 2016-2017 school calendar include:

  • March 22-23, K-12 early release days for parent-teacher conferences
  • April 3-7, Spring Break
  • April 19, regular full day
  • May 5, regular full makeup day
  • May 24, early release days for professional development
  • June 8-9, regular full days
  • June 15-16, K-8 early release days for parent-teacher conferences
  • June 19-20, regular full days
  • June 21, regular full makeup day
  • June 22-23, early release makeup days

 

For high school seniors, graduation dates will not change.

 

To see the updated version of the 2016-2017 school calendar, visit http://www.battlegroundps.org/about-us/school-calendars.

 

Camas School District

East Clark County schools took the brunt of this winter’s inclement weather. In the Camas School District, students had missed nine days of school by the time mid-January rolled around and district administrators were facing a major extension of the school year.

 

In an effort to mitigate makeup days that extend the school year through the end of June, we have developed creative solutions to recapture lost instructional time,” states a district press release sent to Camas parents in mid-January. “The plan balances the impact by adding instructional hours into existing school days with recaptured late start and early release time, adds days to the school year, and also applies to the State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for a waiver of some emergency closure school days.”

 

The district has applied for a state emergency waiver that would alleviate four makeup days and has restructured the 2016-17 school year calendar to cope with six other missed school days in December and January.  

 

According to the district: “The plan, with anticipated waivers, allows for two additional inclement weather school closure days, if needed; however, additional early release/late start hours may be added back to the calendar. If we exceed two additional closure days, we will need to revisit our plan and potentially add more days to the end of the school year.”

 

The district already eliminated a Jan. 30 grading day,  and late starts on Feb. 8 and 9 and March 1, as well as early release dates on Feb. 1 and 15 and on March 1 and 15.

 

The last day of school is now planned for June 26. Spring Break is not affected by the new calendar.

 

District leaders say they are working hard to ensure that high school seniors in the Camas district will graduate on time. On the district website, is the following message to parents and students concerned about high school graduation: “Please know, the district remains committed to keeping graduation dates unchanged. Moving these dates is problematic for students who are reporting to college or for service, not to mention the impact to families who have been planning for graduation since dates were announced. We may need to offer some Saturday options for seniors to maintain these dates. We will communicate directly with senior students and their families if those options become a reality.”

Students in schools around Clark County are going to have to attend school for a few more days in June due to adjusted schedules created to makeup for days lost due to winter weather. Photo by Mike Schultz
Students in schools around Clark County are going to have to attend school for a few more days in June due to adjusted schedules created to makeup for days lost due to winter weather. Photo by Mike Schultz

Evergreen Public Schools

Like the Vancouver Public Schools district, the Evergreen school district also has to make up for eight snow days lost during the 2016-17 winter months. The district was able to account for five of the eight days without taking the school year too far into June, and has requested an emergency waiver for three instructional days from the state superintendent of public instruction.

 

District leaders say they never take the decision to close school lightly, knowing that students and staff will have to pay later for snow days missed during the winter.

 

To make up for days missed in December of 2016, the district eliminated two already scheduled no-school days in January and February, on Jan. 27 and Feb. 27.

 

The district also added additional time to the school days, starting in the beginning of February, to make the school day last an additional 12 minutes, with a five-minute earlier start time and seven-minute later release each day until the end of the school year.

 

“By adding the extra time each day, we satisfy the state requirement of an average of 1,027 hours of instruction for the school year without needing to make up three of the eight days,” the district states on its website.

 

The district  also added June 16, 19 and 20 to the school calendar and extended the previous 2016-17 school year by three days. Graduation dates for high school seniors within the Evergreen School District remain the same and the last school day for seniors is June 13. To view the new district calendar, visit www.evergreenps.org.

 

Hockinson School District

Hockinson School District staff members have collaborated to reach an agreement that will enable the district to make up school time lost to the snow days experienced over the last few months.

 

Hockinson will finish their school year on June 16, only one day later than originally scheduled. The district’s plan included making Jan. 27, Feb. 17 and June 16 regular school days (Jan. 27 had previously been scheduled as a teacher in-service day, and the other two were snow makeup days that had been built into the calendar).

 

Also part of the plan, beginning on Jan. 30, the district started adding 20 minutes to the end of every school day until they have fulfilled the state-required number of instructional minutes. The district plans to return to the regular schedule before the end of May. There is a buffer built in to continue the proposed schedule into June if there are any more snow days.

 

To see the approved district calendar for the 2016-2017 school year, visit http://www.hocksd.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=3152948&pageId=35100459.

 

La Center School District

Faced with eight snow days to make up, La Center School District leaders have decided to alter the 2016-17 school year calendar, creating new instructional days and adding on to the end of the school year.

 

The new calendar bumps the end of the 2016-17 school year from June 15 to June 23, which accounts for six of the eight lost days. To make up for the other two snow days, the district has changed two previously scheduled no-school days, set aside for teacher development in January and April, into regular instructional days.

 

For more information, or to view the district’s new 2016-17 school year calendar, visit www.lacenterschools.org.

 

Ridgefield School District

At the end of January, Ridgefield School Board members approved adjustments to the 2016-2017 district calendar because of days missed when there was inclement weather.

 

The last day of school for the Ridgefield School District has been moved to Mon., June 19, which will be a half-day of instruction. Additionally, Fri., Feb. 17 was made an instructional day, and Fri., June 16 will be an instructional day as well.

 

As part of the revised calendar, the district has asked for a waiver of four days from the state. If there is any more inclement weather this year, those in the district will be notified of any additional changes to the calendar.

 

Check the district’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RidgefieldSchools/ for any updates.

 

Vancouver Public Schools

The state granted Vancouver Public Schools’ emergency waiver request in early March, which means students in the Vancouver district will not have to make up four of the eight school days they missed due to snow, ice and other winter weather in December and January.

 

In a press release sent out March 8, district leaders said this meant that, “barring additional closures,” the last day of the 2016-2017 school year for students will be Wed., June 21.

 

Schools in the VPS district also will have two-hour early releases on Mon., June 20 and on Tue., June 21. The district has canceled the previously scheduled early-releases on June 15 and 16.

 

Winter weather caused school closures within the VPS district four times in December of 2016 and four more times in January. The district had built-in makeup days planned for the December snow days, but would have had to extend the school year until the last week of June.  

 

Instead, district leaders say they requested a state waiver to “reduce potential hardships for high school students who depend on summer employment, employees who enroll in continuing education programs and families who have planned and purchased summer vacation travel.”

 

The new calendar does not affect the district’s Spring Break, regular one-hour early release dates or senior graduation dates.

 

And for parents who are worried that their child won’t receive enough instructional time during the 2016-17 school year, VPS leaders say the district’s original calendar already had eight more days than is required by state law, so VPS students should be OK when it comes to getting in enough instructional days this year.

 

“Even with the waiver, VPS students will still receive four days’ worth of instruction beyond Washington state’s minimum requirement of 1,027 instructional hours,” states the VPS district’s press release on the emergency waiver.


VPS employees affected by the snow closures will still need to make up the time missed in January, as the emergency waiver only applied to students. “Employees impacted by snow day closures will make up this time, consistent with employee contract language, to focus on district initiatives and school improvement efforts,” the district’s press release states.

 

Washougal School District

Much like their peers in the nearby Camas School District, officials in the Washougal School District (WSD)  say they’re doing everything they can to make sure high school seniors will not be affected by the district’s requirement to make up for days missed due to inclement winter weather in December and January.

 

WSD Superintendent Mike Stromme told parents in late January that the district was working with employee association groups to find “a solution that maintains the instructional program for students and hopefully also meets the needs of families at the end of the school year.”

The district also plans to submit an emergency waiver to the state later this month, after the chance for inclement winter weather has safely passed.

 

Already, WSD has turned one planned no-school day in early February into regular day and added 18 minutes to the end of each school day beginning on Feb. 6 and going through the end of the school year to meet state requirements for instructional hours.

 

The end of the year is slightly changed, with June 21 and 22 now becoming regular attendance days and June 22, the last school day, going from a three-hour early release to a regular, full school day. Graduation dates at Washougal High School and Excelsior High School have not changed. For more information, visit www.washougal.k12.wa.us.

 

Woodland

The Woodland School District has decided to extend the 2016-2017 school year through Fri., June 23, a one-week extension from the originally end-of-the-year date.

 

The state of Washington requires school districts to hold school for 180 school days and offer an average of 1,027 instructional hours over the course of those 180 days. Although there is a process by which schools can request a waiver for some of the days lost to inclement weather, Woodland School District officials have decided that doing so does not align with the district’s vision and robs children of valuable learning time.

 

In a letter from Woodland Public Schools Superintendent Michael Green, Green said district officials do understand that the one-week extension of the school year poses a problem for some families who have plans that cannot be changed. Green encouraged any families who might be impacted by this change to work with their school principal to pre-arrange any necessary absence for their children.

 

To view the letter from Green in its entirety, visit http://www.woodlandschools.org/node/5386?artloc=10.

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