It’s been a brutal winter, with record cold and mountains of snow. Area schools were forced to dismiss students early, start school days late and cancel school outright.
Bettendorf, Davenport, North Scott and Pleasant Valley have each canceled seven days of school, had at least one early dismissal each and at least two late starts.
Monday night, Pleasant Valley’s school board approved a plan to address missed instructional hours.
“We’ve had an unprecedented amount of snow days, so all options were on the table,” said Nikhil Wagle, school board president. “We looked at possibly Saturdays, President’s Day, Good Friday.”
According to a news release from the district, 40 minutes will be added to the end of the elementary school day and 30 minutes to the end of the junior high and high school day, beginning March 4. The extended schedule will run Monday through Thursday, during the weeks of March 4, March 18 and March 25; Fridays will be unaffected.
“We couldn’t do it on Friday because we’re contractually obligated not to with teachers,” Wagle said.
Wagle said adding extra time in March offered “the most flexibility” with how spring break and sports seasons line up. The board also considered when the additional time would be most effective for student learning.
“If you add them at the end of the year, it becomes more difficult because students are ready to be done,” he said. “We wanted to make the instructional time effective.”
Elementary schools will release at 3:40 p.m., the junior high at 3 p.m. and the high school at 4 p.m. on the noted days.
The last day of school, June 7, will be a full day for elementary schools, rather than releasing at 11:30 a.m.
Additional snow days would have to be considered if they’re called, Wagle said, but the board was trying to avoid going into the second week of June.
“You’re getting into some of the teacher professional learning time … so we wanted to try to take that into account,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Davenport Education Association (DEA) heard a proposal from the district’s administration to address their lost educational time Monday. Union representative Toby Paone said the membership would vote Friday.
“There is a proposal that’s going to be voted on by DEA membership that has about five different components to it,” he said. “It would include no early-out Wednesdays starting March 6. There would be no, what we call, ‘second spring break.’”
That “second spring break” is the long weekend surrounding Easter; currently, the Friday before Easter — April 19 — is a teacher in-service day, and the Monday after Easter — April 22 — is a day off. Under the proposal, both would become normal school days.
According to Paone, school would begin 20 minutes early starting March 4. The last student day would be June 5; June 6, 7 and 10 would be full professional development days for teachers, to make up the professional development lost by eliminating early-out Wednesdays. June 10 would be the last day for teachers.
“This plan was given to us by the administration,” Paone said. “It wasn’t unilateral, though. We had had discussions about it.”
If the DEA vote supports the plan, it will still need approval from the school board.