The Ottumwa Courier

March 13, 2013

Schools find ways to make up for snow days

Last day of instruction in Ottumwa is June 10

MARK NEWMAN
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Some kids are thrilled to hear the phrase “snow day.” That excitement may dwindle when they find out school won’t end in May.

“Due to snow,” said Ottumwa school Superintendent Davis Eidahl, “the last day of student instruction will be June 10.”

It had originally been scheduled for an end date of May 31. It might have been even later than the June 10 date, but the school board decided to postpone a teacher training day in April, which will now be a normal day of instruction.

Between late starts, cancellations and shorter days, kids were getting an unsteady educational diet.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had a full, uninterrupted week of instruction,” Eidahl said. “That’s important.”

But so too is teacher development, the professional training that gives teachers the latest tools to bring back to the classroom in an effort to boost student achievement.

But there are some lessons for teachers that, with a bit of creative rescheduling, can be put off for a few months. The April professional development day will be pushed back to June 11 — the day after the last day for kids.

What about weather dates scheduled in anticipation of a snow day or three?

“We don’t have any snow days built into our calendar,” said Eidahl.

Some districts do, he acknowledged. For example, if there’s one snow day, they add it on to the end of the year. If there’s a second, they make Presidents’ Day a go-to-school day. Or they simply cancel spring break. In this district, he said, a number of Ottumwa employees have certain holidays off by contract. And stakeholders have said canceling spring break should be a last resort; Eidahl said suddenly doing so would be unfair to families that have plans.

In Eldon, the Cardinal school district says families with plans should call the school. At their most recent school board meeting, the decision was made to have a snow make-up day on April 1, which was going to be part of spring break. April 12 was going to be a professional development day at Cardinal but will now be a normal school day. The same is true for May 10.

The result of all this juggling at Cardinal? Students’ last day of school will be May 30 — and it’ll be an early dismissal day.