The Smyrna School District will not add days to the end of the school year thanks in part to the State Board of Education’s approval of forgiving up to six school days lost due to inclement weather this year.
The State BOE made the decision Thursday following a recommendation by Secretary of Education Mark Murphy. Smyrna only requested five days to be forgiven – Jan. 3, Jan. 22, Feb. 13, March 3, and March 17. Each of these days was declared a State of Emergency or state offices were closed by Gov. Jack Markell.
Smyrna School District Superintendent Debbie Wicks said she wasn’t surprised by the state’s decision to forgive some of the snow days.
“The state and county offices were closed those days so I would think school’s that were closed those same days would be forgiven,” Wicks said.
One day before the State BOE’s decision, the Smyrna School Board met on March 19. At that meeting, the school board voted to add two more full pupil days to deal with the time missed from snow; these two extra days along with the board’s previous decision to use the March 28 and May 2 inservice days as student days would’ve enabled the district to make up four of the 10 days missed from snow in the district. The four days would’ve made up 26 of the 74.5 hours lost from inclement weather.
“We asked for those two extra days in case the state didn’t forgive the snow days,” Wicks said.
Now that the state has forgiven five days, the district won’t add two days to the end of the school year; however, students still have school on the inservice days that were made pupil days. Using the inservice days gives back 13 hours of instructional time to the students.
The last student day will be June 6.
As for the teachers in the district, Wicks said principals at each of the district’s respective schools will explain how many days the teachers need to make up.
In a statement released by the Department of Ed, Murphy said his decision was made after balancing the significant need of quality instructional time with the safety challenges faced this winter due to the weather. Murphy said students and educators were robbed of instructional time this year because of the weather.
“The need and deserve to have it returned. Our educators need it, and our children need it,” he said.
He urges better planning in the future to end the need for state "forgiveness" of weather delays.
State law requires students in districts and charter schools to receive the minimum number of hours required: 1,060 hours for kindergarten through 11th grade and 1,032 for grade 12.
The Smyrna School District was in a unique situation this year in that students in the district actually have a longer school day; therefore, upwards of 75 hours were banked. A total of 74.5 hours were lost from school closings and weather delays so the district technically didn't have to add make-up days into the school calendar.