Students exit Everett High School on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 after the first day of school since Feb. 8 due to weather cancellations. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Students exit Everett High School on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 after the first day of school since Feb. 8 due to weather cancellations. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Snow is gone but it’s still a headache for school leaders

Making up all the missed days without extending the school year too long is going to be a challenge.

EVERETT — The snow is mostly melted from this month’s storms but it’s effect on public schools will be felt for months.

Students, parents and teachers want to know when those snow days will be made up.

It may be awhile before they get an answer because school administrators need time to sort it out.

Most districts in Snohomish County pencil in one makeup day in the school year for a weather-related closure. And then they typically mark a couple more on the calendar after the last scheduled day of classes for unforeseen situations.

But the wintry blast shuttered districts for five, six, seven and, even eight days in the case of Northshore School District.

So what may sound like a simple solution — tack on days at the end of the school year in June — isn’t for every district.

Doing so could require retooling collective bargaining agreements with teachers and classified staff. And it will almost certainly upset some students and parents whose summer plans get disrupted.

It helps that the state Superintendent of Public Instruction will allow some of those snow days to be waived. But the state still requires schools provide a minimum of 1,027 hours of instruction. To comply, schools may convert half-days into full days and trim the number of early release days as well, to avoid extra days in June.

It’s a puzzle, and superintendents and school boards will put the pieces together in different ways.

Mary Levesque has children enrolled in elementary, middle and high school in the Arlington School District, which racked up five snow days.

“It was a long week,” she joked.

She said she hoped the district finds a solution that causes “the least disruption” and does not extend the year much beyond June 14, the last scheduled day of classes.

“Hopefully we won’t have to be in school all the way through June and can have a summer break,” she said.

Gary Sabol, a spokesman for Arlington School District, said May 3 is set aside as a makeup day. Beyond that, no decisions will be made until winter is done, a common refrain from school district leaders.

“It’s a little too early to tell if we will do a waiver or not,” he said. “It’s certainly one of the options.”

The heavy snow disrupted the flow of education this month as districts labored through a combination of late start, early release and full closures.

Even as the weather cleared last week, some districts closed on Friday, as planned, for a long holiday weekend. Other districts are out this week on a scheduled “mid-winter break.” And spring break will go on as scheduled this year, too.

“Many parents and staff members have already made commitments for those days, so we do not want to cause them to change those plans at this late date,” according to a post on the Mukilteo School District website.

That could mean students are in class in the last week of June. The district had seven snow days and has two makeup days set for now. The last day of school is June 18 but could be the following week if none of those five days are waived.

“No decisions have been made yet,” said district spokesman Andy Muntz, adding “winter’s not over” and another batch of snow could further complicate the situation.

The Snohomish School District lost six days and, like Mukilteo, its school year is set to end June 18.

“We are still working through the process,” said district spokeswoman Kristin Foley. “We want to get through all of our inclement weather.”

Lake Stevens School District, which also had six snow days, is looking to meet the instructional hours requirement with a combination of makeup days and waiver days, spokeswoman Jayme Taylor wrote in an email. The school board could discuss the situation at its Feb. 27 meeting.

Monroe School District is one of several districts which have sought to explain the challenge.

“The solution to making up lost days may result in a combination of adding days at the end of the school year and adjusting other days during the year,” district officials wrote. “Once we are completely through the winter season, and all of the weather impacts are behind us, we will be able to determine the full extent of adjustments needed.”

Students and parents aren’t the only ones itching for an answer. Teachers are, too. In their case, their union representatives will be involved in deciding what happens.

Dana Wiebe, president of the Mukilteo Education Association, said she expects discussions on converting 75 minutes set aside on Fridays for learning improvement back to instruction.

“Every scenario will be on the table and we’ll have to collaborate on a solution that will (work) for the students, the teachers and the district,” she said.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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