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Archive for Saturday, January 6, 2001

Students to pay by the minute

Hours lost to snow will be made up two minutes at a time

January 6, 2001

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That third bad weather day will cost Lawrence school district students an extra two minutes, four days a week, for the rest of the school year.

Supt. Randy Weseman said he would ask the school board Monday to add 120 seconds to the instructional clock on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The plan is to skip Wednesday, because all but high school students are released early for teacher collaboration.

Weseman said adding two minutes each day wasn't the best option from an educational perspective. But he said it was the least disruptive and least expensive solution that could be applied at all schools and comply with state law requiring 1,116 instructional hours each year.

Weseman said two other make-up days resulting from bad weather closures Dec. 11, 12 and 13 would be April 26 and 27, which were open days in the school calendar.

"The question is: What happens if we wake up January 28th and there's 14 inches of snow on the ground?" Weseman said.

He'll recommend that any additional missed days be added to the end of the school calendar. If that were to occur, the cost to the district would be substantial. For example, it costs approximately $10,000 to run school buses in the district for one day.

District administrators considered five other options for making up one day prior to recommending the two-minute extension:

Add a day to the end of the calendar. It's a common practice, but it would require changing scheduled junior high and high school end-of-year activities.

Use part of spring break. It would conflict with the district's contract with teachers and be exceptionally unpopular in the community.

Conduct classes on a Saturday. It would clash with community activities and likely prompt heavy absenteeism.

Use a parent/teacher conference day. It doesn't comply with the teacher contract and would increase teacher workloads, because conferences would be moved to the evening.

Use collaboration time on Wednesdays. It wouldn't be a systemwide solution, because high schools don't release students early so teachers can work together on academic planning.

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