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UPDATE: Area schools set snow day make-up plans

Between the so-called "polar vortex" and large snowfalls, local school districts have cancelled school several times so far this month. So many times, in fact, that districts are making plans to make up the lost time, to make sure they are giving children the number of instructional hours required by the state.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website, Wisconsin administrative code requires 437 hours for kindergarten, 1,050 hours for first through sixth grade, and 1,137 hours for grades 7-12.

That means that school districts are able to add time to school days in order to meet, or help meet, the required number of hours.

Here is a look at the way local districts are making up for snow days.

New Richmond

According to a Facebook post announcement by District Administrator Patrick Olson, teacher "professional learning day" Feb. 18 became a full student day for all students, while June 6 and 7 will also be full student days.

Middle and high school classes will end at 2:55 p.m. instead of 2:52 p.m. through the end of the year. This started Monday, Feb. 11, and will continue through the end of the school year.

For middle and high school students, Feb. 14 was made a full school day, as was Feb. 21. Parent-teacher conferences had been set to run from 4-8 p.m. those days.

Professional learning days for teachers set for March 18 and April 22 could be changed to full school days in the future, if needed.

As of Feb. 26, New Richmond was two hours short, after a Monday, Feb. 25 late start. The district was discussing plans for making up that time.

St. Croix Central

The St. Croix Central School Board already approved making Monday, Feb. 25 a make-up day for snow days, according to Superintendent Tim Widiker. The board will also consider adding two additional make-up day at its March 4 meeting.

The board may also use April 18 and April 22 as possible makeup days. The option of adding 10 minutes to the end of the day for high school students and holding 4K for an upcoming Friday may be approved. The board will also consider making June 7 a full day instead of a half day.

The board will consider these options and vote on updates to the snow day make-up plan at its Monday, March 4 meeting.

Somerset

The Somerset School District has added five minutes to each day for elementary students, and 10 minutes to each day for middle school students, according to Executive Assistant Tasia Berger. March 8 has been changed from an in-service to a regular school day.

June 7 will now be a regular school day.

Any further changes would be considered by the administrative team which meets weekly.

River Falls

Four in-service days were changed to regular school days. Those include Feb. 18, April 1, May 17 and June 7, said Superintendent Jamie Benson.

Starting Monday, Feb. 18, 12 additional minutes of teaching time were added to the end of each school day. As of Monday, Feb. 25, the River Falls School District remained in compliance with the required number of hours, set by the state. But, Benson said, if there are any more delays or cancellations, the calendar would need to be adjusted again.

Hudson

Starting Monday, Feb. 18, the Hudson School District removed its two remaining late starts and one remaining early release day from its schedule. Good Friday, April 19, was changed from a non-school day to a school day.

The district also added 15 minutes to the end of each school day, starting Monday, Feb. 18.

Because high school students need more instruction time to meet state requirements, said Assistant Director of Community Relations Tracy Habisch-Ahlin, the high school's Thursday late starts have also been removed.

As of press time, the last day of school will still be June 11. Habisch-Ahlin said that as of Monday, Feb. 25, this plan will keep the district in compliance with the state's required number of instruction hours. However, she said any additional cancellations would mean students attending school after June 11.

Ellsworth

The Ellsworth Community School District will use June 5 and 6, designated snow make-up days, for teaching. Students and staff will also be attending school on days originally scheduled as off for students: Friday, March 29; Friday, April 5 and Monday, April 22, the day after Easter. The final day of the third quarter was moved from March 28 to April 5.

This information was current as of Tuesday, Feb. 25.

Elmwood

Elmwood School District will add four days on to the end of the school year. June 3-6 have now become regular school days. A scheduled student day-off on Feb. 27 is now a school day. Three minutes have also been added to the beginning and to the end of each school day. One professional development day will also be added, said Superintendent Glenn Webb.

A Monday, Feb. 25 snow day may need to be made up. As of Tuesday, Feb. 26, district administration and board were still deciding how to make up that day.

Spring Valley

Spring Valley School District will add 15 minutes to each school day, and shorten middle/high school lunch time by five minutes, according to Superintendent Dr. Don Haack. There will be no early release days in April and May, and a regular school day will be held Friday, March 8.

Middle/high school classes will start at 8:04 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. Elementary classes will begin at 8:05 a.m. and end at 3:18 p.m., beginning Feb. 26. As of Monday, Feb. 25, the school board also voted to change 13 minutes of the middle/high school lunch period to recess time, which counts as instructional time. Haack said this would give students a 15 minute lunch period, and a 13 minute recess period which would include some structured activities for students.This will give the district up to one extra day of time to make up for any further snow days.

Plum City

On Monday, Feb. 12, Superintendent Amy Vesperman announced on social media that Feb. 18, a scheduled student day-off, would be a make-up school day.

"We will have to be making up every day off from here until the end of the school year," Vesperman's post read. "We want to try and end the school year as planned. This day off makes it easier to do that. We are hoping this doesn't ruin anyone's plans."

Vesperman said Tuesday, Feb. 26, that two additional days will need to be made up, and plans off that have not been decided yet. Two scheduled days off may become regular school days, or those two days could be added to the end of the year. Any additional snow days would be made up by adding days to the end of the school year, or by adding time to the end of the day, Versperman said.

Prescott

At the Feb. 20 Prescott School Board meeting, the following adjustments to the calendar were approved: March 22, April 22 and May 13 were added back in as instructional days.

"In addition, beginning Monday March 11 additional instructional minutes are being added to the day at all buildings," said Superintendent Dr. Rick Spicuzza.

Tier I buses which transport in-town students will be extended 5 minutes every day except Wednesday. Tier II buses that transport country routes will be adjusted by 10 minutes.

Across the district Wednesday schedules will remain the same until the end of the school year.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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