District to Make Up Missed Days Minutes At a Time
Left, Director of Secondary Education Kehl Arnson (at the podium) and Superintendent Attila Weninger listen to questions about adding minutes to the school day. (City-Times photo)
By Brandi Makuski
The Stevens Point School Board this week agreed to add six minutes to each school day in an effort to make up for missed days caused by nasty weather.
Kehl Arnson, director of secondary education, said district leaders already had 3 makeup days built in to the calendar but needed to consider how to make up a fourth day in compliance with state law. The district has already cancelled classes on four days- January 6, 7, 26 and 27- due to extreme weather, leaving students one day shy of the 180- day calendar required by the Department of Public Instruction.
“What we realized when reviewing this with the DPI is that we have less than a full day left to make up, giving us the opportunity to perhaps address that instructional time in terms of minutes, rather than adding that additional day at the end of the year in June,” Arnson said. “Once we saw what our options were we wanted to check with the community and with our staff to see how they felt about the possibility of using instructional minutes rather than adding an additional day.”
Arnson said 72 percent of about 1,600 returned surveys indicated parents were in favor of adding six minutes to the school day.
“It’s too difficult for transportation to add time at the beginning of the day, so it makes more sense to add the six minutes on at the end of the day starting March 3 and remaining through the end of the school year,” he said, adding any additional school closing days would be made up at the end of the school year beginning June 9.
Arnson also said principals would review how to distribute those minutes and may add them during a lunch period or over a number of class periods.
Board Member Bob Larson said he liked the idea.
“I don’t get a lot of emails from teachers, but when I do I follow through. I received one from a lady three, four weeks ago and she said it would be very simple just to add on a few minutes to her schedule, which I did send Attila. And I’m kind of happy to see you guys follow through on that,” he said.
Board Member Lisa Totten said the district should have considered using early release days make up the time as opposed to adding minutes daily.
“I have a hard time with this being of any instructional value. I get that we’re making up the minutes, but I’m not really sure that’s the best way to do it,” Totten said.
“What is the academic benefit to six minutes,” asked Board Member Kim Shirek. “It seems like you’re saying there isn’t any because you could add it to the lunch hour. To me, we’re not adding any academic benefit.”
“The difficulty there is you’re trying to satisfy a rule that the DPI has for instructional hours,” Arnson said. “There’s been discussion of adding that full day at the end of June and that wouldn’t really have any instructional value either because after all the tests are done you’re getting ready for summer.”
“It’s just weighing how you can work that time in- it’s hard to say a minute makes a difference, but that class hour makes a difference,” he added.