Monday, January 30, 2012

District Seeks Waiver for Snow Days

From SPS Communications:

Rather than add days to the end of the school year, Seattle Public Schools is asking the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for a waiver for the Jan. 19 and Jan. 20 snow days.

Gov. Chris Gregoire declared Washington in a State of Emergency for those days, prompting Seattle Public Schools to seek a waiver to not make up the Jan. 19 or Jan. 20 snow days. This is contingent on a decision allowing the Emergency Proclamation to apply to schools in King County. OSPI officials said they will have more information next month on how to apply for waivers.

It would cost Seattle Public Schools roughly $500,000 to make up the two days in June.

Seattle schools made up one of the three snow days on Friday, Jan. 27. State law does not require students to make up a day for Tuesday, Jan. 17, when students had a late arrival and an early dismissal.

Making up the time during mid-winter break is not an option, as families and staff have arranged their schedules around the school calendar, which was approved by the School Board in May 2011. That calendar, which is available online at http://bit.ly/DistrictCalendar, listed Jan. 27 as a weather make-up day, and up to three additional days are to be made up at the end of the school year.

The approved calendar for the 2012-13 school year shortens the mid-winter break, reducing it from a full week to four days over the Presidents Day weekend. The break includes the Friday before the weekend and Monday, Presidents Day, which is already a holiday and a non-school day.

Also, given the timing of the snow days last week, the District is extending the first semester three days, through Tuesday, Jan. 31. Second semester will start on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...
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super annoyed of sps said...

that's awful. first, 2 hours counting as a full day, what a joke. and then asking to not have to make up the other snow days because of cost. what about the money saved by no one going to school for a week? actually, SPS is the joke! educating kids seems to be on the bottom of their to do list.

mirmac1 said...

It would seem that the district collected money for educating our kids, did not deliver, and now wants a pass...?!

super annoyed of sps said...

one more thing, i bet charters find a way to make up snow days.

just saying...

Dorothy Neville said...

Well, did bus drivers, teachers and others get paid for snow days? If not, then the district has the money to extend the year. But if they still had to pay those salaries, then there you go. Likewise, the Jan 27th make-up day was supposed to be PD? Or a tri-day? Something in the CBA? So that's another day where there may be a financial burden on the district.

dj said...

Good to know, as we have yet another early release day this week and I wonder if a full week of full-day school is the exception rather than the norm.

Dorothy Neville said...

Ah, Brian's article says the $500K is in transportation and nutrition services. Does this mean that teachers will work make-up snow days without extra salary? Seems likely. But the bus drivers must not have that in their contract. And nutrition services, well how much is salaries that needed to be paid anyway, how much is food that was purchased and went bad? Complicated.

Patrick said...

Any excuse to reduce the number of hours a year students are in class learning something.

I was okay with them not making up all the snow days about three years ago when we had a week and a half of snow days, and they made up most of them. This is not the same situation.

The District publishes a list of what vacation/development days will be used to make up snow days, in order. If people buy non-changeable tickets for those days, they're gambling. If they choose to gamble, we shouldn't be covering their losses.

If UW has a snow day, staff sent home must use vacation time, make up the hours, or not get paid.

And two hours at school does not make a school day. My daughter's class actually spent about 45 minutes of that time in line to call their parents to come and pick them up...

emeraldkity said...

Making up the time during mid-winter break is not an option, as families and staff have arranged their schedules around the school calendar, which was approved by the School Board in May 2011. That calendar, which is available online at http://bit.ly/DistrictCalendar, listed Jan. 27 as a weather make-up day, and up to three additional days are to be made up at the end of the school year.

Let's take a poll.
For how many people does " arranging their schedules to incorporate mid winter break mean" either staying home from work on " vacation" to provide care of their kids or having to use friends/family for the same.

How many people would be relieved just to be able to go to work instead?

Jamie said...

emeraldkity,
Most years I would say I'd rather just go to work, however this year I bought plane tickets to New York for midwinter break, so I'm glad they're not having school then.

emeraldkity said...

Acknowledged some people may have plans- but I believe originally mid winter break was touted as an opportunity to absorb snow days into the schedule- however that is never what happens.

The school year is pushed further into the summer- more families have summer plans than midwinter plans, those students who work summer jobs simply don't attend school & the time is ill-used.

Patrick said...

Emeraldkity, good point. We not only have to give up pay or vacation time to stay home during the actual snow, but again later in the year when SPS cancels the make-up days.

Anonymous said...

Mid-winter break is going away next year. For this year, we booked an art camp for that week. If mid-winter break were cancelled, either we would lose our money, or the small local business that runs the camp would. The kid is also very much looking forward to some concentrated art time that isn't available at school. The calendar says after the end of school for this year, and it should be followed.

--irked

KG said...

Super annoyed,

I agree with you as a classified employee. They are more interested in funding the over loaded central administration monster with millions more spent than if any other district ran seattle.

Ask Duggan Harman and the 5-existing clowns on the school board that should all be out.

Less education and more money for administration is an abuse to school children.

I suggest you report the school Board and superintendent to the ethics hotline.

Only one problem, they do not know what ethics are.

suep. said...

@"super annoyed/just saying..."
Ah, now I understand your hyperbole @ 1/30/12 2:35 PM, and non sequitur @ 1/30/12 2:42 PM. All roads lead to charters, right?

Anonymous said...

Why not just skip the week if you're out of town or have other plans, and let the majority of families opt to make up the days during midwinter break? They could give an excused absence to those kids who can't make classes. It seems like that would make most parents happy, and for MOST kids, it would work out just fine. Am I missing something?

-- Irritated

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of not making up snow days, just consider them a gift and move on. If they are to be made up why on earth would we have them during midwinter break instead of at the end of the year where they have been on the calendar ALL year? I would be very irritated to have them slipped into the midwinter break that is just a few weeks away (although my kids wouldn't care since we'll be out of town and they wouldn't have to go).

On a related subject, how would one go about suggesting changing early release days to late arrivals instead? Roosevelt (and some other high schools) have both.....and it makes a lot more sense to have late arrivals on a monthly basis than to have regular afternoon off (am I the only one that thinks of them as teen pregnancy Wednesdays?). Gives my teen a chance to catch up on a little sleep as well as meet with teachers in the morning when everyone is fresh.

---just some thoughts

Anonymous said...

All school days after the MSP are pretty much a bust. They don't do a thing. They should just cancel everyting the last MSP/HSPE has been finished. It would probably save a bundle and have 0 educational impact.

-observer

Anonymous said...

Maybe next time they should post assignments on the source & offer excused absences for those kids who get their work done.

I know my kid was frantically trying to find materials on the source that would have been handed out before finals week. Sadly it wasn't posted.

And YES, absolutely late starts instead of early dismissals! What are they thinking?

-mom

Anonymous said...

Agree that June days are wasted. Testing done; kits returned, everything is over. Even the kids are ready for it to end.

I like the mid-winter break idea. Those who have plans can do them with excused absences. That seems fair. Heavy duty teaching happens before the middle of May.

I wonder if transportation is part of the issue: busing contracts must cover certain days. If we add days either at the end or even during mid-winter break, what's the language? I can't think of anything else that would cost $500,000. Lunches I guess. That could be pricey. For a school district the size of ours, $500,000 doesn't seem like a lot.

Our school is mainly neighborhood. We could have had late start for three days. Of course, that would probably annoy some people as well. But, at least we'd have gotten some teaching in. I have to agree that showing up for lunch was kind of silly.

Sometimes schools have a hard row to hoe. Please don't blame it on the teachers.

n...

Melissa Westbrook said...

KG, please understand; it is fine to disagree with the actions of the Board and the district. But we don't call people names. It's their professional actions that we can disagree with.

Anonymous said...

If the days don't need to be made up, teachers should lose two days of pay.

If teachers don't want to lose two days of pay (and we won't, because our contract clearly spells out what we earn) then we should teach two more days. The two days should be spent teaching students.

As a teacher-parent I'm home if my kids are home, but that's not true for my friends who have to pay for childcare every time their kids are home on a workday.

Even if parents opt out, two days of school should be added to the end of the year.

Parent and Teacher

Anonymous said...

Melissa, January 27 is an unpaid day. Some staffs vote to use it for TRI time. They could vote to meet on Saturday instead or several hours after school or in June. I've always voted against working January 27 because I used to use it as a day I could plan field trips, teaching units and generally pull things together. Now, I'm committed to TRI every year because few want to commit to after-school time, weekend time or more days in June. We are there when school ends in June. We spend several unpaid days finishing up paperwork and closing our classrooms.

Teachers are working all the time. Are we hourly workers or salaried workers? Frankly, I don't know.

n...

Anonymous said...

I was unpleasantly surprised to see that the District is asking for a waiver for two of the snow days. I think they should make them up at the end of the school year. The problem is too little instructional time - not too much!

Patrick said...

I'm looking at the calendar the District mailed out in August. It says,

If necessary, the first inclement weather day will be scheduled for January 27, 2012 (Day between semesters); the second, third, and fourth make-up days will be added at year end. If a fifth make-up day is needed, it would be scheduled for March 16, 2012 (Professional Development day).

The District should simply do what they said they were going to do. That's basic integrity. You don't make a policy for a possible situation and then do something else when the situation actually arises.

And if the District was budgeting on only one snow day a year then they're even more foolish than I thought, and that's pretty foolish.

Anonymous said...

Beyond the "keeping our word that was given when the 2011-12 calendar was published"...what makes Seattle so special that we don’t need to make up snow days at the end of the school year like any other district in the county? You use up your built-in snow days, you keep going to school. Sure some kids and teachers might need to take off on a planned vacation, seniors still get to graduate on time, but everyone else gets to make it up. Did no one else in charge at SPS grow up where there were snow days?? it's not all that unusual! Yet another embarrassment, of the school district and of the city.

-Diane

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right, Patrick. Do not let those teachers off the hook. Do not! If it costs the school district $500,000 it doesn't have, it is still worth it. Do not let those teachers off the hook.

I worked for the City for a time. We usually had to take sick leave for snow days. During one really bad snow about twenty years ago - not sure - we were all given a pass because no one could make it. But usually it had to be sick leave or comp time.

When I worked for a private company in the seventies, they ate it. Of course, it was a good company with a good bottom line and they were beholding to no one.

Personally, I'd take sick leave in a nano second. I have plenty. But not everyone does. So that's probably not an option.

Actually, I do agree that a bargain is a bargain and the calendar is set. I just bristle under the sense that this is about teachers more than principle. It will cost the District $500,000 for two days of day care. But the teachers will be working. The teachers must work.

Yes, we must.

n...

Anonymous said...

IMHO adding two days in June is a total waste of everyone's time and money. The Jan. 27 day was a good call. Shaving a day or two off mid-winter break would be worth the money as it truly would be added instruction. But two extra days in June for what—another skate party or field trip to the park? That is a waste of taxpayer's money. I'd rather they did nothing at all, and certainly would not want the District spending an additional $500,000.

BTW...many private schools don't make up the snow days which is why they wait longer to call them.

Solvay

Anonymous said...

mirmac1: It would seem that the district collected money for educating our kids, did not deliver, and now wants a pass...?!

We made it snow, mirmac. Didn't you know? We have awesome powers...:)

FYI: all state school districts can ask for waivers - not just Seattle or King County.
n...

KG said...

Yes, Melissa I agree. But there are a lot of proffessionals or so called ones that are very Amateur people. The truth is the truth name calling or not. The fact is many of the members of the Board are abusing the school children with poor decision making.

Just because many of people let this status quo problem exist with little fight does not mean I will not.

mirmac1 said...

I know teachers do! : )

dj said...

I know, I know, stupid question, but given that (at least since I've been here) many school years have had a snow day or too, doesn't the district budget for them such that if you have a few snow days, you are prepared? I could understand not budgeting for a snow month, but a few days?

KG said...

They only budget for top heavy Central administration, because they help the students more than teachers.

Disgusted said...

Add early release days + furlough days+ snow days+ legislators failing to fund our schools= our kids are getting screwed.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

KG, you do make me smile. Sometimes "nice" is an enemy. I like authentic. I wish there was as much angst about our top-heavy bureaucracy as there is about teachers and snow days.

n...

KG said...

Anonymous,

That is the problem with our world in that many tend to always hold the little guy accountable, while the people at the top pilfer, lie, and cheat among other things. And somehow that is viewed as OK because it is business as usual.