For the second consecutive winter, Inland Northwest schools must decide how – and whether – to make up the days that were missed because of snow.
Most districts canceled school on days both before and after winter break, as the region was hammered by one storm after another. Now, the question is whether that means shorter vacations, the loss of some three-day weekends, lengthened school days – or perhaps no change at all.
Complicating matters in Washington is the fact that Gov. Chris Gregoire declared a weather emergency, giving districts the option of applying for a waiver to avoid making up the days. But even with the waiver, districts must provide at least 1,000 hours of instruction over the course of the school year.
Gregoire didn’t make the emergency declaration until Christmas Eve. Spokane Public Schools is waiting to see whether it can be applied retroactively to Dec. 18 and Dec. 19, the first days lost to the snow, said district spokeswoman Terren Roloff.
The district already has announced that students will have to come to school on Jan. 30 and possibly on Feb. 13, both of which were supposed to be days off. But that’s only two out of five days that were missed – a decision about the rest of the days may be made this week, Roloff said.
Coeur d’Alene students missed four days due to snow.
“The state allows us two days but we have to make up two days,” said Janet Feiler, district spokeswoman, adding that no decision has yet been made on how to do that. “You can do it by adding minutes to the day or by finding days when students wouldn’t have been there otherwise.”
The Post Falls School District had extra days built into its school calendar, so nothing will change, said Superintendent Jerry Keane.
Representatives for the three Spokane Valley school districts are still trying to sort things out, with some decisions expected this week. Last year, when winter weather also resulted in an emergency declaration, Central Valley made up all but three days, while West Valley added 12 minutes to each school day for two months in spring.
Central Valley Superintendent Ben Small acknowledged during a school board meeting Monday night that parents are anxious to know what’s going to happen this year. “It’s too early to make a determination,” he said.
Mead School District announced Tuesday that classes will be held Feb. 13 and March 20 – two Fridays that were supposed to be days off for students. Still undecided: whether to extend the school year by three days.
Staff writer Nina Culver contributed to this report.