I want to let the staff, students, parents, and community know where we are in regards to our missed instructional days. We missed a day back in November due to having no power at Thompson Elementary and Lewis Cass Jr/Sr High School and we have missed 14 more days due to weather and road conditions. So, we have missed a total of 15 instructional days. I applied to the Indiana Department of Education for a waiver for that day and it was approved. I also applied to the IDOE for a waiver for the first 5 days we missed when we were to be back in school after our Christmas break. I received notice we were approved for 2 of those days and the other 3 are being evaluated and I am waiting word.
So, with a total of 15 days missed, we have 3 that have been officially waived by the Indiana Department of Education, leaving 12 to make up. We used January 22nd, February 14th, and February 17th as make up days, which were all initially non-instructional days. That leaves 9 days to make up. The IDOE gave guidance on ways to make up the lost instructional time. Our options were, 1) have eLearning days, which SESC does not qualify for since we are not 1:1; 2) attend school on Saturday; 3) add 1 hour to the end of each day (6 hours = 1 day); or 4) add all the additional days to the end of the calendar.
We polled the staff, e-mailed the options to the board, and had an informal parent poll at a Thompson PTO meeting and the opinion was overwhelming in support of the additional 1 hour to the end of the school day for however many days were needed. Comments related to school on Saturday were related to students who work, student and family activities on Saturday, childcare issues for staff, athletic events, no “down” time for students if they attended school 6 days a week, as well as other concerns for school attendance on Saturday. Comments related to extending the school year related again to students who work, summer camps, 4-H activities, family vacations, etc.
There is no option that suits everyone due to the individual student and family needs so the option to extend the school day had the most support and was chosen as the option for SESC. We intended to begin our additional hour on February 17th, which was cut short with an early dismissal due to weather approaching that would cause difficulty for our students to get home. Then on February 18th, we had to cancel due to the majority of our county roads drifted shut so our additional hour to the end of the school day will begin on Wednesday, February 19th. The initial intent was to have this extended day schedule until Wednesday, April 30th, however now we will re-evaluate and determine which date the extended school day will end.
Other information related to the spring ISTEP+, the IDOE has extended the Applied Skills portion of the ISTEP+ due to missed instructional days. We now have a window of administration from March 3rd – 21st. The ISTEP+ Applied Skills portion will be administered March 10th – 19th. This gives our students and staff an additional 5 days to cover standards.
Parents, if you would like to assist your child to be better prepared for the ISTEP+, I would ask that you look at your child’s teacher’s website for instructional material or contact the teacher directly to ask for ways you can assist your child. The education of our children is a team effort. I appreciate all you do as we work together toward the academic success of our children.
Your partner in education,