Make-Up Days Identified for School Closures

February 27, 2003
Note: The following memorandum outlines the plan for making up lost instructional days through Thursday, February 27. This plan will be amended to accommodate the closure for February 28 and any further closings.

February 26, 2003


To: Members of the Board of Education

From: Jerry D. Weast, Superintendent of Schools

Subject: Make-Up Days for Weather Emergency Closures

I am moving forward with adjustments in the school calendar for the 2002–2003 school year in order to make up instructional time lost because of closings due to weather emergencies. In summary, the changes in the school calendar include the following:

* Extending the school year by two days (June 19 and June 20, 2003), with the last day for students on Friday, June 20; and the last day for teachers on Monday, June 23 (with an option of earlier close-out activities on June 20 by teachers on an individual school basis)

* Eliminating Wednesday, March 19, 2003, as a scheduled professional day for teachers and opening school for students on that day

* Applying for the two-day waiver identified by Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick, state superintendent of schools, as an appropriate response to the state of emergency that existed during the height of last week’s snowstorm

I will consider options for making up additional lost instructional time, as necessary, if weather emergencies continue to cause more school closures, delayed openings, or early dismissals. (State law requires both a minimum number of days and instructional hours for a school year.) The additional options include extending the school day during part or all of the remainder of this school year and/or using days from the scheduled spring break (April 14 through April 17). Additional waivers from the state also may be necessary. Moreover, the state superintendent has offered the possibility of using state-mandated school holidays (Good Friday, April 18; Easter Monday, April 21; and Memorial Day, May 26) as instructional days if necessary.

The need to recoup lost instructional time makes the opening of schools for students on March 19 an appropriate use of an available day with a minimal disruption to families and staff. However, I regret the loss of valuable professional development opportunities for principals and teachers at a time when the successful implementation of critical reform initiatives depends on their continued training and other activities designed to improve teaching and learning.

The extension of the school year by two days (June 19 and June 20) incorporates part of the contingency plan that accompanied this year’s school calendar.

In summary, the original school year calendar included 184 instructional days for students. Weather emergencies have resulted in the closure of schools on nine days as of today. The changes in the school calendar would recoup three days by extending the year for students to June 19 and June 20 and providing another instructional day on March 19, resulting in 178 school days. The remaining two days would be waived under the option provided by the state superintendent. These changes will achieve the state-required instructional days and hours for our school system, based on the instructional time already lost. As I indicated earlier, other options will need to be considered if additional time is lost.

There will be adjustments made in the work duties and assignments of personnel in order to implement these changes in a cost-effective and responsible manner.

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