By Brittani Wheeler
On Monday evening the School Board accepted a new calendar, amended to meet the needs of both the new Indiana Department of Education policies and the teachers contract.
This change occurred after Indiana Superintendent of Public Education Tony Bennett announced to the school districts on March 17 that there would be an alteration in the policies regarding number of school days, according to Superintendent Barbara Underwood. In the past, districts have been able to count half days as full days when these days added to make a whole. Now there will be no counting of half days and no waivers for districts to miss one of the days of school. In a school year there must be 180 days.
“We have been working with the teachers association and we have come up with a calendar that meets the state requirements of 180 days and meets our contract requirement with teachers that calls for half days at the end of each semester at the high school and so forth,” Underwood said.
She said a calendar has been developed that meets all criteria. “Not that it is pretty or one that I would choose, but it’s legal and it meets our teacher contract requirements. It doesn’t change the start of school or the end of school or any school vacations,” Underwood said.
Next year, should there be a snow day, the high school will make up that day on its scheduled flex day. The elementary and middle schools will not have to. On the second snow day, the elementary schools will make up a day, and the high school will make up two days, adding that day at another time during the year. Because of their schedules, the middle schools won’t have to make up any days until after the third snow day. Every level is on a different schedule.
Underwood said, “The thing that it is going to do that we don’t like is change how many extra days we have at different levels of school. For example, we could have one school that would have to make up snow days when others do not have to make them up.”
Administrator Steve Dillon worked on developing this new schedule for this district. He said if it doesn’t snow and we don’t close school for any other reasons, no one is going to notice any difference because the schedule is going to look just like this year. If this district has a day it must close though, then it will start affecting the high school because the very first day of snow will have to be made up in the high school, unlike this year where this district has two additional days than required by the state of Indiana.
In developing schedules, Dillon said the board must consider “things such as starting on a Monday or a Tuesday, ending school on a Thursday or Friday because we find that if you go into the next week and go on a Monday, people just don’t come to school. Now, high school is a little different because you guys have final exams so you kind of have to come, but at our elementary and middle schools, if you end on a Monday people just don’t come, so we try not to do that. It potentially could have an effect on our attendance if you go into the next week,” Dillon said.
With this schedule there is also a potential seniors would have to come back to school after graduating. This would occur if there are three or more snow days next school year.
“It certainly will be odd to graduate on Sunday and require that the seniors come back to school after they have graduated,” Dillon said. “We wouldn’t want to do that. No one would come, or if they did they would be very chaotic. It could have a lot of impact; it just depends.
“Once it does happen, if it does happen, I am very comfortable that the professionals in this organization will come together; they have in the past,” Dillon added. “They are not going to let something like this disrupt graduation, which is the culminating event of 13 years of a student’s life and that’s why we all come to school here and work here. It’s for the kids, so you know today is a different story than a year from now. If we find ourselves in this boat, we will know by early spring if we have a problem to deal with.”
One idea presented by Underwood to keep seniors coming to school in the case of added days would be to hold diplomas until after the last official day of school to encourage seniors to attend the make up day if it would have to be after graduation. However, that’s not set in stone.
Dillon said, “I certainly have to respect our new Superintendent of Public Instruction because his goal is for every student in Indiana to have the opportunity to go to school 180 full days of school. You can’t argue with that, so I support that. The only thing that if he was here right now, I’d like to ask him is, ‘Why this late?’ because what happened was it left Carmel and these other districts scrambling with ‘What are you going to do?’”
Dillon said, “I want that calendar to be the best calendar to support the learning of the kids.”
NEW SNOW DAY POLICIES
In the event of…
STEVE DILLON / SOURCE