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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Districts juggle snow days, changes as school begins

Across the Inland Northwest, students are sharpening their pencils and packing their backpacks in anticipation of the first day of school.

Some schools begin today; others begin next week. All have snow days built into their schedules, but not all have the same number.

Call that a lesson learned from the mammoth snow dump of 2008-’09, the snowiest winter on record.

“We built in snow days to the calendar this year to help ensure quality instruction time for our students and to help families be able to plan their individual schedules,” said Terren Roloff, Spokane Public Schools spokeswoman. “We put two of the days at the end of the school year calendar to reduce the inconvenience to vacation plans during school year holidays and breaks.”

Spokane Public Schools has built in four snow make-up days. Central Valley, Mead and Coeur d’Alene each have two snow days, according to the districts’ 2010-’11 school calendars.

Area schools begin the school year on different days and have other schedule changes.

Today is the first day for Deer Park and East Valley school districts; Spokane Public Schools starts Thursday; Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Mead school districts begin Tuesday; and classes at Central Valley School District start Sept. 8.

Coeur d’Alene has an additional scheduling challenge: Beginning this year, school will start late on Mondays in grades K-12 for teacher collaboration. Elementary school will start an hour later than it used to, while middle and high schools will begin an hour and 15 minutes later.

To make up for the late starts, 15 minutes has been added to the end of each school day for all grades.

Six furlough days are included on the Coeur d’Alene schedule, although they are likely to go away because of a federal jobs bill that added $1.8 million to the district budget over the next two years, officials said. Other Idaho school districts also have indicated they’ll look to use the federal money to offset any furlough days.

“In these times there are always challenges. Nothing ever stays the same,” said Coeur d’Alene School District Superintendent Hazel Bauman, who has worked with her faculty and staff on the schedule changes.

To make sure students and parents are informed, the new schedule has been mailed in newsletters, posted online and handed out at registration day.

Despite the whirl of activity, gearing up for the beginning of school “is an exciting time,” Bauman said. “It’s always an energizing time.”

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