By JEROD CLAPP
Students in Henryville’s elementary and high schools won’t have their school year bleed into summer break because of a waiver from the state.
The Indiana Department of Education granted a waiver to the schools from the 180-day in school requirement. Henryville Elementary missed 12 days of school and Henryville High School missed 15 because of the tornadoes on March 2.
Alex Damron, press secretary for IDOE, said it was only fair to excuse students at Henryville schools from those days because of the circumstances.
“There are common sense exemptions for extreme situations and the events at Henryville certainly warrant those exemptions,” Damron said. “Our department has always tried to give schools the support and flexibility they need.”
Glenn Riggs, principal of the elementary school, said he thought the quick response from the district and staffs at both schools to get students back into classrooms also contributed to the exemption from the state.
“When you literally are removed from your school and walk away with nothing, to be able to restart in that period of time is definitely commendable,” Riggs said. “I think that was part of their decision in that process that we have families and lives affected by that.”
Henryville High School Principal Troy Albert said though students may miss out on some of their regular curriculum, he thought they still learned a lot in the weeks they were out of school.
“I think the weeks we were out were life lessons we couldn’t have taught any other way,” Albert said. “I think sometimes you learn just as much without a textbook or classroom setting. Helping others was a big priority in everyone’s mind, and hopefully that will persist.”
West Clark Superintendent Monty Schneider said from a scheduling standpoint, the waiver should relieve some pressure from families who want to attend the graduation of their seniors.
“People are concerned about it and there may be parents with split families or relatives living away, so they’ll want to make those plans as soon as possible,” Schneider said.
Schneider said the district will make that decision as soon as possible with Albert and approval from the board of trustees.
But the district still awaits word from IDOE on another waiver they’ve applied for to get an exemption for ISTEP+ testing this year. Schneider said those discussions will continue with an expected decision coming soon.
Overall, Riggs said he thought the work of teachers and administrators in West Clark Community Schools has paid off.
“Nobody was off work from the standpoint of employees,” Riggs said. “We worked to get these kiddos in a regular mode as best we could and I think we’ve got that going.”