Alas! It appears that the inclement snow weather may be finally behind us. Unfortunately, due to the fact that we closed school on March 17 and 18, we have to make-up about 11 more hours of instruction to be in compliance with the law at GES.
The school board and I discussed this issue publicly in our meeting on March 25. Additionally, we have been discussing the situation with our leadership team. Since we have already added 7 make-up days and extended our school year, it is our hope to create a schedule that does not require additional days. The board decided not to act on this matter in order to gain more input from our families and to make certain that the storm we had last week did not require additional closures.
At the school board meeting on April 8, we plan to propose an additional 20 minutes each day for the remainder of the year at GES only. We have asked Mrs. McCay to work with her team to outline a proposal for adjusting the schedule in a manner that is most beneficial to students and families. Our proposal will be to add 10 minutes to the start and 10 to the dismissal of each day at GES beginning April 21st, accordingly:
- GES start time: 8:10 AM
- GES dismissal: 3:25 PM
Why GES Only?
Our principals have indicated that they continue to be concerned about needing more instructional time at all schools; however, due to the fact that we are running after-school tutoring programs at all schools for the remainder of the year, we are reaching the students that need additional support heading into our “testing season.”
This issue was discussed thoroughly during the most recent school board meeting, but essentially GES had been observing a shorter day all along. Due to traffic concerns in the mornings on Route 6 (which we have since resolved), GES had been asked years ago to dismiss earlier than the other schools. The extraordinary number of missed days this year have impacted GES differently simply because GES had fewer instructional hours to begin with.
Our recent plans to regain the lost time brought all schools into compliance, but the March 17 and 18 days left GES with a deficit of about 11 hours.
We deliberated this issue extensively. We considered all options, including adding time evenly at all elementary schools, adding time in the afternoon only, using days at spring break, etc. Ultimately we asked Mrs. McCay to lead the GES staff in establishing a recommendation that would bring GES into compliance. Given all considerations, our decision is to recommend the additional time at GES only for the remainder of the year, since the other schools are already in compliance.
What About the Waiver?
Many parents and teachers have asked us why we did not apply for a waiver to the state board of education. Essentially, we were notified that our request would likely be denied because we had not taken days from Spring Break (even though we were credited for considering additional days in June) and had not considered weekend dates. Until we have exhausted all other options, we would likely not be approved. It is important to note that the state board has only ever approved one request and it was for one day.
Your Feedback is Critical!
I know these decisions are difficult, but we want your feedback prior to approval on April 8. Parents, please feel free to contact me directly, reply to the blog, or email a school board member. Faculty/Staff, we will continue to discuss this at our weekly leadership meetings, so please make sure your principal knows the feelings or concerns from your team about this proposal and/or feel free to contact me directly.
Let’s all hope this is truly the end and that we have an excellent year of weather next year! As a side note, our school board is also approving the calendar for next school year on April 8 and we have built in many more snow days. Please review the draft in the board agenda packet (available Thursday, April 3) and let us know what you think!