Classroom instructional time that was lost when schools closed during the recent snowstorms will be made up without having to use Spring Break days, alter high school graduation, or extend the school year deep into June.
During a special meeting March 4, the Tahoma School Board approved calendar changes to recover 40 hours of lost school time, which meets the state requirement of 1,027 instructional hours. To do that, Tahoma will add 20 minutes to each school day, extend the last day of school one day to June 20 (instead of June 19), and cancel eight early release Fridays.
The changes begin on March 18, when school will begin 10 minutes earlier and release 10 minutes later than the current schedule at each building. Bus schedules will reflect those changes, with pick-up and drop-off times moving 10 minutes earlier in the morning and 10 minutes later in the afternoon. For new bell times, click here.
Early release Fridays will be held on March 8 and 15. The remaining early release Fridays are canceled, with the exception of half-day release for grades 6-12 on May 24 and half-day release on the last day of school, June 20.
The board’s decision also allows the district to request five waiver days from the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, which were authorized under an emergency declaration by Gov. Jay Inslee in connection with the snowstorms that led to seven canceled school days. The office of state Superintendent of Public Instruction approved the waiver request on Thursday.
The first round of snow led to school closures on Feb. 4 and 5. School started two hours late on Feb. 6 and 7. The second round of snow resulted in five more closures, Feb. 11-15. Two of those days are being recovered by using makeup days on May 24 and June 20. Another built-in makeup day on Jan. 28 was used to make up the day missed on Jan. 7 due to the windstorm. The other snow days will not be made up but the instructional hours still must be restored. Waiving five days creates scheduling flexibility that is needed to add 20 minutes to each day to recover lost instruction time, instead of extending the school year.
The makeup plan was created as a result of discussions with representatives from administration, teachers, classified staff, PTA/PTO, bargaining unit leaders and members of the Human Resources and Payroll departments. A final proposal emerged on Friday after meetings with administration and bargaining unit representatives. The proposal was presented to the School Board on Monday.
In addition to restoring instructional hours, discussion included how to best accommodate Tahoma High School’s graduation schedule, AP and state assessments, and families and staff who have vacation and travel plans in place for Spring Break and the days immediately following the last day of school.
The changes approved by the school board will not significantly affect the school district’s finances, since few additional costs are incurred.