Indiana schools finding making up is hard to do

Published: .
Updated: .

Indiana schools hoping they'll get a break and not have to make up all their snow days better make other plans. The Department of Education says it's not granting additional weather-related waivers.

A department briefing is providing a clearer picture of how schools are making up for lost class time.

Wayne Township children will be in school longer days and extra days to make up for three days lost to bad weather. Jacquetta Crump, a mom with two teenagers, feels fortunate her family can adjust.

"I am one of the lucky few. I've made it work for the entire school year," she said.

Parents will be juggling work schedules, day care and family activities. Older students with after-school jobs will have to adjust as well.

"We knew looking at this no solution was a perfect solution, someone was going to be inconvenienced no matter what decision we made," Superintendent Jeff Butts explained.

Superintendents have no choice. Indiana's Department of Education isn't issuing any additional waivers for cancellations caused by weather. It appears as if most schools will have classes on Presidents Day. About 40 districts are considering extending school days to make up the class time. That's how Wayne Township is making up one of its snow days.

"We tried to look at what was best insurrectionally," Butts said. "As I was talking with teachers, one of the things I heard was we've lost this time before the ISTEP window, it would be nice to have some of that time back."

So far, the state is allowing only a few school districts to make up missed days with "E-Days." They put children on computers, learning from home. The majority of school districts don't have the technology or curriculum to hold classes over the Internet.

There is more at stake than making sure children get a good education. The state does not reimburse schools for days children aren't there. Each missed day would cost Wayne Township schools more than half a million dollars. IPS would lose about $1.2 million a day. The state's largest school district is expected to have a make-up plan ready for a school board vote on February 25.

So far it doesn't appear as if any schools are opting to hold classes on Saturday. School administrators say families don't like it, teachers don't like it, and they believe many children would stay home.

State provides guidance to schools

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz announced local options for schools on Thursday. Ritz said she talked to local superintendents and teachers from around the state.

Ritz said the options will allow flexibility as school districts re-arrange their calendars. Schools will be able to reschedule holidays, hold classes on Saturdays or extend the school year without seeking state waiver.

The options announced include both waiver and non-waiver options for schools attempting to re-schedule instructional time. Schools have the flexibility to change their calendar by re-scheduling holidays, pre-established snow flex days or professional development days without requesting a waiver from the Department of Education. In addition, they are free to host school on Saturdays or add days to the end of their calendar.

Schools also have the ability to request conditional waivers from the Department. They can do this by adding instructional time to each instructional day that is in addition to time already provided in their calendar. When they have re-scheduled enough instructional time to meet the minimum definition of an instructional day, they may apply for a conditional waiver for one school day.

An instructional day consists of five hours of instructional time for grades 1-6 and six hours of instructional time for grades 7-12. For example, using this approach, an elementary school would be eligible for a conditional waiver of one day if it added one hour of instructional time to each day for one week.

Districts may apply for as many conditional waivers as are needed. Waivers are allowed under IC-20-30-2-5. Conditional waiver requests are due by June 1, 2014.

Read more here.