INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana schools won't get a free pass for the mounting
number of days lost to weather cancellations this winter. But they will
have some flexibility as they figure out how to make up the time.
Department of Education announced Thursday that schools can reschedule
holidays, hold classes on Saturdays or extend the school year without
seeking a state waiver. They also can extend the school day and seek a
conditional waiver when they've made up the equivalent of one day of
Public Instruction Glenda Ritz announced the options in a news release,
saying many superintendents she'd spoken with had asked for flexibility in
scheduling instructional time.
schools to provide 180 days of instruction or lose funding for each missed
day, Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman said.
The state has
already offered unconditional waivers for two days missed in January due
to extremely cold temperatures. Even with those waivers, many school
districts expect to extend classes into June after harsh conditions in
January forced some schools to close for a week straight.
Community Schools have missed 11 days so far this year, a 15-year high,
said spokeswoman Krista Stockman. School will be in session until June 11
— six days later than planned.
"For now, it's
easier to add those days on than to try to extend the school day,"
Stockman said. "For a district our size, extending the school day would
really be a logistical nightmare."
hope to avoid lengthening the semester at any cost.
underway at Westfield Washington Schools to extend school days by about an
hour to make up for four weather closings. The district has closed for
nine days in all, said Cindy Keever, executive director of student support
programs for the district.
Adding the extra
hour will save the district from keeping students after the semester ends,
and Keever said that translates to more meaningful class time.
was really important for us," Keever said. "It helped us keep
instructional time when it has the most positive impact so we're not
tacking it on at the end of the year."
The longer school
days aren't without a price. The district must shuffle its lunch hours and
rework bus schedules, and the longer days will conflict with some
students' after-school jobs.
and parent Janel Bantz said she worried about how an extra hour could
affect student stamina.
"I would be OK
with them extending the day by 15 minutes, but I would not want my kids to
go to school an extra hour," Bantz said. "It's hard to stay focused toward
the end of the day."