Vancouver School District receives waiver for weather-related closures

VANCOUVER — Vancouver Public Schools has received an emergency waiver for four of its eight weather-related closures this school year. Barring additional closures, the last day of school for students will be Wed., June 21. There will be two-hour early releases at all schools on June 20 and June 21.

There will be no early releases on June 15 and 16 as originally scheduled.

Spring break, regular one-hour early releases and graduation dates are not affected. High schools will provide activities for seniors to participate in after June 9, seniors’ originally scheduled last day. Schools will provide details regarding these opportunities.

Barring addition closures related to weather, the last day of school for students in the Vancouver School District will be Wed., June 21. The district received an emergency waiver for four of its weather-related closures this school year. Photo by Mike Schultz
Barring addition closures related to weather, the last day of school for students in the Vancouver School District will be Wed., June 21. The district received an emergency waiver for four of its weather-related closures this school year. Photo by Mike Schultz

Instructional requirements will be met

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. The district’s original board-adopted and employee-bargained calendar for 2016-17 exceeded the state’s requirement by eight days’ worth of instruction.

How staff members will be affected

The approved waiver applies to students only. 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.

Why the waiver was requested

Winter weather events in December 2016 and January 2017 caused VPS to close school eight times: Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16 and Jan. 11, 12, 13 and 17.

Washington state requires 180 days of instruction, or an average of 1,027 instructional hours. Making up all eight of those days exhausted the four makeup dates built into the 2016-17 school calendar and would have extended the school year until the last week of June.

The district requested the waiver for four of the eight days 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.

VPS’ board of directors approved the waiver request on Feb. 14, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction granted the waiver in early March.

Other area school districts with a similar number of closures have applied alternative solutions to meet the instructional hour requirement. Because calendars differ, the same arrangement is not feasible for every district.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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