Polk Schools asking parents when to make up snow days
Published 8:32 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2014
When snow began falling across Polk County Tuesday, Feb. 11 students’ faces lit up with joy and school administrators’ brows furrowed with wonder about when they’d make up the multiple days of school the system would likely miss.
Tuesday night, Feb. 25, parents across Polk County received pre-recorded messages from Superintendent Bill Miller letting them know they’d be surveyed this week about when they would like their children to make up missed snow days.
“The board wants to use the call-in system to survey the parents and see what they think,” Miller said. “So, we decided to call people a few days in advance instead of calling them out of the blue.”
Parents will receive a second pre-recorded message Thursday, Feb. 27 asking them to choose between students making up days during spring break or at the end of the school year.
Polk County School students have missed five days this year, so far. Miller said the board of education recently determined students would make up two of those days by attending class on March 7 and April 21. Both days are currently scheduled as teacher workdays. The board’s decision to do so leaves the system with a total of three days to make up.
Miller said the board doesn’t have a particular preference although both options have negative impacts on families’ schedules.
“From our standpoint, we just have to get the three days in. So, we want to know what most people feel would be better,” Miller said. “There are pros and cons for each. Obviously, a lot of people have plans for spring break especially with it being connected to Easter. At the same time, at the end of the year the same thing happens.”
Miller said the system has always tried to coordinate spring break with Easter because so many people travel to be with families for the holiday.
Memorial Day is May 26 and Miller said the system could potentially plan for students to attend that day but said he knows that might not sit well with the board or parents.
Currently, the system would end school Friday, June 6. Tacking the three days onto the end of the school year could potentially put students in classrooms until June 11.
Miller said the decision to push the end of the school year further into June could affect graduation if any additional days are missed before winter is over.
By law, schools must conduct testing during the last 10 days of school for younger students and the last five days for high school students. Miller said if seniors are not able to complete exams before June 9, graduation would have to be pushed to the following Friday, June13. Miller said he expects the board will do whatever it can to make sure that does not happen.
He also said many have questioned him about why the system cannot attend school on Saturdays. Miller said if the schools attended six days in one week it would wreak havoc on the payroll for each school as staff would potentially have to work overtime.
Miller said other systems are also pushing the end of the school years back and are attempting to get creative with schedules.
The Henderson County School Board approved on Monday, Feb. 24 to go through June 13 because that system has missed eight days so far this year.
The mountain counties, meanwhile, are trying everything they can to get in the extra time by going 30 minutes extra every day.
Miller said Polk County Schools will know almost instantly what parents prefer but said the board will not take official action until its March 10 meeting.