CORVALLIS, Ore. – Corvallis schools are making up lost snow days – one minute at a time.
Schools lost eight days of class time from snow days this school year, and by Oregon law, it is required to make up a certain number of hours for elementary and secondary schools.
Because of a 14-hour emergency allowance, Corvallis schools only need to make up six of the eight days. Students already made up a day by attending school on President’s day, and another on a day originally given to staff as a work day.
But to make up the remaining hours – the district had several options. It could cancel conferences set for next month and add minutes to the daily bell schedules, or tack on a few extra school days in June to extend the school year. The district sent out a survey to staff and parents asking for their input.
“The decision pretty overwhelmingly from staff and parents was to cancel conferences and not extend the school year,” said Assistant Superintendent Kevin Bogatin. “Elementary added seven minutes, and secondary – middle and high schools – had to add fourteen minutes.”
After Spring Break, middle schools will start a few minutes early and end a few minutes later. Elementary schools will end seven minutes later than usual, and high schools will end later than usual on Mondays and Wednesdays. Middle and high schools have also changed their daily bell schedules – adding on class time minutes by reducing break times.
“I like the decision because it gives the students more time off for summer – for fun and play,” said Carol Mikowski, who has a niece at one of the elementary schools. “It’s for selfish reasons though – I want to be able to spend more time with my family. And summer vacation always goes by so fast.”
Most parents say they are happy about the decision, but some are also concerned about losing the conference days.
“I was more in favor of keeping the conferences because I really like that time with teachers,” said Erin Donne, whose child attends one of the elementary schools. “And adding seven minutes a day just seems a little silly – I don’t know what they’re going to do with seven minutes. Maybe just to be able to develop a little bit more on certain subjects – but it doesn’t seem like a good replacement for full days.”
The school district says it realizes that adding on 7-14 minutes to the daily bell schedule is not equal to adding a full day of school, but it has to be compliant with state law, and the majority of staff and parents asked not to extend the school year.
“The challenge of making up eight days is just an overwhelmingly big task for a school district,” Bogatin said. “And in June, we especially have a problem at the high school level if we have to add on days, especially in classes that are mixed with juniors and seniors.”
Bogatin says when days are added to the end of the school year, many times final examinations have already finished and the seniors have already graduated. He says students and staff may feel as though the days are wasted.
And despite the lost conference days, Bogatin says schools will still send out report cards as usual.
“We encourage parents to contact teachers if there are any concerns,” he said. “Even though we don’t have scheduled time, our teachers will take the time to meet with families.”