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Local districts won’t lengthen school day

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Neither Bartholomew Consolidated nor Flat Rock-Hawcreek schools will opt to extend the school day an hour to make up snow days.

Thursday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz announced that option for schools to apply for conditional waivers.

The waiver would allow schools to add instructional time to already scheduled school days. An instructional day must be at least five hours, so a school could add one hour of instructional time to each day for a week and be granted a waiver.

“As Hoosiers, we always expect harsh winter weather,” Ritz said in a news release. “However, this year’s storms have been extreme and have interrupted instruction for schools throughout the state.”

Although Flat-Rock Hawcreek Superintendent Kathy Griffey said teachers are concerned with the lost instructional time — especially with ISTEP testing beginning in just a few weeks — she’s comfortable with the built-in makeup days.

Both local districts planned ahead for the adverse weather by including several makeup days in the official calendar.

Flat Rock-Hawcreek students have missed eight days, but seven makeup days were built into the schedule: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Good Friday and a full week after spring break. The district also was granted a one-day waiver from the state to avoid making up one of those snow days.

Although Griffey said the district’s teachers have been concerned with missed preparation time for the upcoming ISTEP, which begins March 3, she said the district will use only the scheduled makeup days.

If there are additional cancellations this year, the makeup days will be tacked on to the end of the school year.

Bartholomew Consolidated schools have missed seven days, and only six makeup days were built into the schedule. Students now will be in class April 18, March 24 to 28 and June 4. Two more snow days could create a conflict with the scheduled June 7 commencement, but Superintendent John Quick said there are better options than extending the school day.

“Educationally, it is better to spread hours of instruction across more days rather than extend days,” he said. “There is a point of diminishing return due to fatigue, particularly with younger learners.”

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