News and Tribune

January 31, 2014

Making up for lost time with school snow days in Southern Indiana

Districts approach making up snow days in different ways

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — Missed school days from bad weather don’t just eat up time off, but also time in.

Schools across Clark and Floyd counties are making up snow days — some with seven or more so far — from different parts of their calendars. Fewer days in class also means fewer days to prepare for the first part of ISTEP+ in March.

Districts have 20 days before the test begins, which could jam up some of their plans.

Sally Jensen, director of assessment in the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp., said while there’s the possibility the state could delay ISTEP+ testing windows for some districts, she thinks NA-FC students are prepared either way.

“We wish we had more days, but we know what standards appear on the March applied skills piece,” Jensen said. “We know what to be ready for.”

After qualifying for a two-day waiver from the state, NA-FC students have already made up one snow day. They attended Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 29 and will make up the remaining four days from April 1 through 4.

Bill Briscoe, assistant superintendent, said they haven’t had to eat into summer vacation yet, but with more bad weather on the way next week, it’s still possible.

“Right now, won’t have to,” Briscoe said. “It would take two more days. If we reach that second one, we will have to begin tacking those on.”

The loss of teaching time is a concern for districts across the region. John Reed, assistant superintendent at West Clark Community Schools, said by cramming in the other assessments they perform in a tighter timeline, students could miss out on time normally used for learning.

“It’s kind of cramping our normal assessment strategies,” Reed said. “I feel like if we aren’t careful, it could take away from instructional time. I’d rather have instructional time than assessment, so we may have to take a look at that and make some hard decisions about whether we want to use our assessments as we normally have.”

He said their students also came to school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to make up a snow day and will again on Presidents Day on Feb. 17. From there, they’ll eat into the second week of spring break.

But Greater Clark County Schools uses the second week of its seasonal breaks on inter-session to provide additional instruction to students who want or need it. At the district’s Tuesday meeting, board members said they were approved for the two-day waiver as well, but the rest of the days will get tacked onto the end of the school year.

Providing no other bad weather comes in, Andrew Melin, superintendent, said the school system’s last day for students is June 6. That’s after they attend school on Presidents Day and Oaks Day on May 2, a traditional day off.

In Clarksville Community Schools, all of their snow makeup days are scheduled from April 2 through 4, but the district’s last day of classes is still scheduled for May 29.

Clarksville also received the two-day waiver from the state.