Schools struggle to make up snow days before summerThis is the first year Dickinson Trinity eighth grader Brendin Steiner can remember planning to have class on Easter Monday. But he doesn’t have a problem with that if it means he doesn’t lose any of his summer vacation.
By: John Odermann, The Dickinson Press
This is the first year Dickinson Trinity eighth grader Brendin Steiner can remember planning to have class on Easter Monday.
But he doesn’t have a problem with that if it means he doesn’t lose any of his summer vacation.
“I kind of want a longer summer vacation, I don’t want any days taken out of my summer,” Steiner said.
Students from across the state would echo Steiner’s sentiments as they wait to see if they will be required to make up school days they missed due to flooding and severe weather over the last couple months.
Brandi Pelham, a senior policy advisor with Governor John Hoeven’s office, said the governor understands what school districts are going through.
“It’s been kind of crazy with the blizzard and the flooding – very unfortunate events,” Pelham said. “We are in April so there’s obviously going to be some days that we cannot make up, so we will be waving days due to bad weather.’
Those waivers are not automatic, however. Schools must file the appropriate paper work with the Department of Public Instruction, which will review each school’s situation and make a decision.
But it isn’t as simple as just filling out forms. Dr. Paul Stremick, superintendent of the Dickinson Public Schools, said schools must show some effort to make up the days in order to receive waivers.
“DPI asks that you use all vacation days or all days between the end of school and graduation before you ask for waivers,” Stremick said.
The DPS system has five days they have to make up. One was made up on March 23 and the next will be made up on April 13, Easter Monday, which is traditionally a day off. That leaves three additional days to make up.
Therefore, Stremick said May 29, the Friday prior to graduation, has been added as a class day. The last day of classes were previously scheduled to be May 28.
And one more day can be made up by the DPS’s longer than average school day, Stremick said.
Trinity Principal Rocky Cofer said it has used up all of its previously scheduled snow days and are looking for additional options.
Cofer said the Friday prior to graduation has become a scheduled class day and another option is adding 30 minutes at the end of the school day until they make up the lost class time.
“Right now we’re three days over and were looking at that Friday the 22nd (of May) and then whatever else we have to make up will probably be extra time in the school day for one week, two weeks, whatever we need to do to make that up,” Cofer said. “And hopefully the governor is going to give us some relief too.”
Pelham said this late in the year, it might become necessary, but no decisions have been made yet and the best thing to do is send requests to the DPI.
“Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about these days,” Pelham said. “I know that the school districts do their best to provide the best education to the students that they can, but unfortunately we’ve had some unfortunate events happen.”
Stremick said he thinks the current process for receiving waivers works, even if giving up a day which is traditionally a holiday is necessary.
“It’s easy to say that we shouldn’t have to use our holidays or vacation days that we have built in. But what you want to do is have as many student contact days as you can,” Stremick said. “We don’t always get what we want, but I think it does work.”
Steiner said he gets why the school days would need to be made up, but that doesn’t mean he likes it.
“I could see why we would make them up and I could see why we wouldn’t, but I probably wouldn’t be upset,” Steiner said. “I’d probably just be disappointed.”