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SNN: Minimizing Polar Vortex affect

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Two weeks ago school administrators made it to work every day while snow-clogged roads and sub-zero temps forced them to call a week-long snow day event for students. Last week, ice is hampered efforts to dig out of a learning-time deficit.

Of Kent ISD’s 20 districts, only East Grand Rapids held classes at all last week during the polar vortex, and East was only open on Tuesday. It was the longest period of time school has been called consecutively, according to Rockford’s Mike Shibler, West Michigan’s longest-serving superintendent.

Now, principals and teachers are scrambling to make up for the lost week. Districts are required to provide 180 days and 1,098 hours of instruction time. If they fall short they will not receive their full state funding from the School Aid Fund. They are automatically forgiven six snow days, and up to three additional three with a waiver, for circumstances beyond their control.

With five missed days last week, another day off for ice this week and days missed in August for extreme heat and a power outage, Rockford has already reached the state’s legal limit for missed instruction days.

Shibler says he’s talking with other superintendents in Kent County to craft a request for legislators to provide additional relief from the snow-day regulations, so districts don’t have to extend the school year further into June.

School leaders in other parts of the state are working on similar requests, according to Chris Glass, a lobbyist for the West Michigan Talent Triangle.

Meanwhile, principals are working with teachers on how to best make up for the lost days and get the most out of the instruction time remaining.

Joy Walczak for School News Network