Winter’s still in session, which means a final district schedule is still being hammered out.
During last week’s White Salmon Valley School board meeting, Superintendent Jerry Lewis updated the school board of the ongoing adjustments to the district calendar.
Upon last update, at the beginning of February, school had been extended to Friday, June 16. With three additional days canceled from snow (Feb. 3, 8, and 9), the district is planning to move the final day of school to Monday, June 19. Staff will have five additional development days beyond the last day of school.
“Knock on wood, we hope we won’t have any additional snow days because every day we lose now will be tacked on to the end of the year,” he said.
The district is hesitant to release a final schedule, citing that winter isn’t over yet.
“Currently we haven’t put out a revised calendar yet because winter’s not over, but currently we’re going to need to extend the school year from the Friday, one more day, to Monday,” Lewis explained.
The White Salmon School District does over the minimum instructional hours, which helps provide some wiggle-room for snow days.
One good thing the district has working in its favor is a formula that guarantees each student 1,089 hours of instruction. School districts have to maintain 1,027 hours of instruction annually. White Salmon’s instructional total has allowed the district to have flexibility with applying for the lost day waiver, since they meet the baseline instructional requirement.
In total, the district has missed 12 days of school. Some missed days have already been forgiven by the state due to the governor’s inclusion of Klickitat County in a state of emergency status last month.
Compared to neighboring districts, White Salmon isn’t in bad shape, Lewis said. Stevenson’s school district has missed 14 days, while Lyles has also tallied 14. “Districts even in Portland and Vancouver- all over the state are dealing with these challenges,” said Lewis.
“There’s districts adding 24 minutes to a day, tweaking their schedules, doing a variety of things, because they were at the 1,027,” he said. “I feel we’re still in a good place even with as much as we’ve had.”
On top of trying to meet hourly instructional requirements, the district is also trying to prepare students for state testing this spring.
“We’re also looking at our state testing, which is coming up in the spring. We have windows, which are established by the state, so we’re trying to leverage those windows so that our students and teachers have time to prepare and be ready for the state assessment,” explained Lewis. “So, that’s going on also at this time.”
Lewis plans to apply for a lost day waiver from the Office of Superintendent of Public Education (OSPI), to claim the district’s missed days of school. “We’re going to apply for five days that fell within the emergency window,” he explained. “The governor declared our county a state of emergency area, so we’ll apply for the grant from OSPI in mid-March and I guess it’s a pretty quick turnaround. I’ve talked with our attorney to make sure that we had everything in order for that.”
“We’re planning two days of professional development up front for staff, the admin team’s working on a plan,” Lewis noted. The district has been working with staff to show accountability to the state for lost days by adding training and development days throughout the remaining school year.
Graduation is still going to be held Saturday, June 10, but seniors will have to come back the Monday after to meet the state’s instructional requirement. “If you do the math, that shows seniors coming back after graduation on Monday,” said Lewis. “I’m working with [CHS principal] Mr. McKee on what that’s going to look like.”
“We’re going to try and make it as painless as possible, but we have to account for the state that we’re in session,” he explained.