Making up for lost time

Fewer ‘snow days’ means fewer make-up days at local schools

After a surprise storm in February, the snow days seem to be over for the 2017-18 school year.

This means Camas and Washougal school districts can melt away the possibility of having to apply for waivers due to school days missed because of inclement weather.

This school year is much different from last year, when the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction granted Camas School District (CSD) a waiver for making up four of the district’s 10 inclement weather days and to the Washougal School District (WSD) for five of the district’s 11 “snow days.”

Camas schools have had only two closures due to inclement weather this year, Doreen McKercher, CSD communications director, said, adding that this is a comfortable number for the district to be at during this time of year.

To make up the days missed, Friday, March 16, formerly a non-attendance day, will now be a full day of classes and the last day of school was pushed back one day to Wednesday, June 20, which will now be a two-hour early release day.

The scheduled Wednesday elementary early release, when students get out of school at 1:10 p.m., will not take place, McKercher said. The elementary school students will be released at 1:30 p.m. and middle and high school schools will release two hours earlier than normal.

Washougal School District (WSD) has had three snow days this year, Michael Stromme, WSD superintendent, said, adding that it would be unusual for the district to have a snow day later than early March.

Washougal will make up its snow days on Friday, March 16 and Friday, May 25, said Rene Carroll, WSD communications consultant. Since the days that were missed were half-days, the makeup days will follow the same half-day schedule.

The last day of school is currently scheduled for Wednesday, June 20 and WSD will have a three-hour early release for all grades. The former last day, Tuesday, June 19, will now be a regular school day with no early release.

WSD families are asked to avoid making travel plans for the summer that start before June 21, according to Carroll.

Washington State requires 180 days of instruction or a district average of 1,027 instructional hours.

Because CSD waived four days last year, the schools converted non-instructional hours, such as late starts and early release dates to full days in order to meet the state requirements for instructional hours, according to the district.

The district requested the waiver because making up all 10 of those days exhausted the make-up dates built into the 2016-17 calendar, and would have extended the school year until the last day of June, forcing graduation dates to be moved, the district stated last year, in a letter sent to district families.

“The district requested the waiver for four of the ten days to reduce potential hardships for high school students who depend on summer employment, employees who enroll in continuing education programs and families who have planned and purchased summer vacation travel,” the letter said.

“Washougal schools used the three planned snow days, plus another three, to make up six of the 11 days,” Stromme said. “In collaboration with our teachers’ association, we reduced some three hour early release days and also added 18 minutes onto each school day to make up the missed instructional time for the five waived days allowed by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.”

Graduation dates for Washougal high schools were not changed.

If there are any further missed days of school for this year, they will be made up by adding additional days at the end of the school year.