School board to consider makeup days

Mar. 03, 2014 @ 05:20 PM

The Durham school board was set to discuss plans for making up days missed last month due to snow.

But as luck would have it, the board’s Instructional Services Committee meeting was canceled Monday due to the threat of inclement weather.

It’s been that kind of winter.

Durham Public Schools students have already missed four days of school due to snow.

While the first two were covered by days built into the instructional calendar for inclement weather, the last two – Feb. 13-14 -- will require some maneuvering.

Weather permitting, the board is now expected to tackle the problem today during its Support Services Committee.

Under Option 1, the one recommended by school administrators, the most recent snow days would be forgiven instead of forcing traditional calendar students to attend school April 14-15, the last two days set aside on the calendar to make up days missed due to inclement weather.

By forgiving the days, students and teachers on the traditional calendar would get to enjoy their full spring break, which is scheduled April 14-18.

The proposal also would require forgiving days missed by year-round schools, City of Medicine Academy and Early College High School and Middle College High School.

So, how does a school district simply forgive missed days?

It’s easier than you might think, especially for districts that select the state option for students to attend school for a minimum of 1,025 instructional hours instead of 185 days.

DPS has selected the 1,025 instructional hours option, and because of the length of its school day, students actually attend school at least 1,075 instructional hours, which provided DPS with enough extra hours to cover at least two missed days and still exceed the 1,025-hour minimum.

A second option for those schools on a traditional school calendar is to tack the two missed days on to the end of the calendar instead of shortening spring break.

That would move the last day of school for traditional calendar students from June 10 to June 12. 

School officials said many parents and students have let school board members know that they prefer not to shorten the spring break.

“By far, the most popular thing we’re hearing is ‘Please, don’t take away our spring break,’” said DPS spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson. “We’re trying very hard to be sensitive to what we’re hearing.”

School board Chairwoman Heidi Carter acknowledged the board has heard from parents and teachers requesting protection for spring break.

“It seems very important to people that we protect this time off if we can and I understand that,” Carter said.

She said she is prepared to discuss the options with board colleagues today and that, for her, either would be acceptable.

Non-traditional calendars

Under option one, students on the school districts’ year-round calendar would be forgiven two of the three inclement weather days – Jan. 30 and Feb. 13.

Year-round students also missed Feb. 14 due to inclement weather. That day was already on the calendar as a utility day, meaning students did not have to go to school unless it was used as an inclement weather day.

Option 2 would require students to make up the three days and keep to the approved make up plan. Under that plan, March 31 and April 1-4, the first week of the year-round intercessionm could be used as inclement weather make-up days.