School year extension recommended for making up snow days

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Nick Crow
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

JANESVILLE—Janesville School District administrators recommended extending the school year into the second week of June as the best option to make up days lost to sub-zero temperatures this month.

The plan is one of three presented to the school board Tuesday night.

"The recommendation is to go with option one (extending the school year) at this time," said Mary Ann Kahl, assistant director of administrative and human services for the district. "This way, we are able to have continuity of instruction with our students."

The option requires students to attend school Friday, June 6, and Monday, June 9. The last day of school was originally scheduled Thursday, June 5.

School was cancelled due to cold weather Monday, Jan. 6, and Tuesday, Jan. 7, as well as Monday and Tuesday of this week.

Some board members voiced concerns with extending the school year. Deborah Schilling said schools without air conditioning could face problems teaching students if weather becomes to warm.

"Students aren't learning when it's that hot in the school," she said. "If they extend into June they could have some hot days."

Other options presented Tuesday included requiring student attendance Friday, March 7, which is currently a parent/teacher conference day, and on June 6, or shortening spring break by requiring attendance Monday, April 14, and Tuesday, April 15, and leaving the last day as June 5.

Board member Bill Sodemann favored student attendance during parent/teacher conferences, but he questioned the logic in requiring school on Friday, March 7, while leaving Thursday, March 6, as a conference day with no student attendance.

Stephen Sperry, director of administrative and human services for the district, said the problem with changing parent/teacher conference days is that parent attendance might not be as high if conferences go into the evening on a Friday.

Board member David DiStefano said he didn't like the idea that people's family vacations or summer plans could be affected by extending the school year further into June.

Sperry said parents and employees were considered when making the final recommendation. Seniors would be exempt from the extended days and would have the same graduation date, he said.

"The goal is to have a plan for the next three years that everyone can agree with," Sperry said.

Superintendent Karen Schulte will get the final say on how the district finds school days to reach the 180 days required by the state.

Board member Scott Feldt said the final decision wouldn't make everyone happy, no matter what.

Sodemann suggested the board look at extending the school year to more total days in the future so it will have extra days to work with in the event of multiple snow days.

"I don't understand why we aren't going to learn from mistakes and fix the calendar in the future," Sodemann said.

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