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Snow extends classes by 45 minutes

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The brutal winter weather Indiana has endured this year has had a detrimental effect on the school schedule in Jennings County and other surrounding school corporations.

The three days originally slated for school makeup, Jan. 20, Feb. 17 and March 31, were not enough to make up the 13 missed days.

Making up the missed days is required by the Indiana Department of Education and state statute, so a solution was needed. Fast.

Several ideas were proposed, or rumored, including going to school on Saturday, extending the school year well into June (and moving graduation)

and extending the length of the remaining days.

The chosen: Extending the remaining school days, the first time Indiana schools have been allowed to do so.

Jennings County School Corp. began extending the school day by 45 minutes on Monday and will continue the longer days through April 30. Students also will attend on Good Friday (April 18), but students will be excused for religious activities. In the event that no more days are missed, Jennings County schools will resume normal school hours May 1.

The reason for the decision? ISTEP+ is approaching, and with so much educational time lost, the extra time provided is expected to be helpful in preparing students for the test.

The first phase of ISTEP+ begins March 10, and the second phase begins April 28. The second phase accounts for 75 percent of the test.

Jennings Superintendent Terry Sargent, in a letter he sent to families, listed the benefits of an extended day, which he said outweigh the difficulties and inconveniences.

Those benefits are:

All lost days will be made up by the end of April.

High school’s commencement will remain on May 31.

The plan allows the school district to extend days in May if additional snow days occur.

The school year will end May 23, as originally scheduled.

The school district will go back to regular hours May 1.

“Given the number of days that we needed to make up, the extended day offered the best solution for all students,” Jennings County High School Principal Tim Taylor said.

“There was a significant amount of time, effort, communication and feedback into finding the best solution to fit every student from kindergarten through high school.

“Summer vacations will not be impacted; early June summer camps and keeping graduation on the same date all were factors that best fit the needs of everyone.”

However, some high school students are having a difficult time conforming to the earlier start of their school day, which is moved up to 8:17 a.m. from 8:25 a.m. and includes shorter passing periods and a later release, 3:50 p.m., compared with 3:05 p.m.

“I like it for the first three periods, but then it gets to fourth period and it just seems to drag,” senior Kylan Higgs said.

Makenzie Caldwell is a senior at Jennings County High School.

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