NDIANAPOLIS — Indiana schools won’t get a free pass for the mounting number of days lost to weather cancellations this winter.
The Department of Education announced Thursday that schools can reschedule holidays, hold classes on Saturdays or extend the school year without seeking a state waiver.
They also can extend the school day and seek a conditional waiver when they’ve made up the equivalent of one day of instruction.
Despite the offer, officials in three of the four county districts say they have no plans to alter their current makeup schedule.
Only Greenfield-Central officials say they will discuss the DOE option with their teachers association and principals before making any decision.
Greenfield-Central has tentative plans to make up snow days during the first week of spring break Monday, March 17, through Thursday, March 20. That’s the same plan for Mt. Vernon schools, while Eastern Hancock has listed Monday, March 17, through Friday, March 21, as snow makeup days.
After using the spring break option last year, Southern Hancock officials received plenty of grief from parents who had planned spring break trips. That prompted the SH school board to move any snow makeup days this year to the end of the school year.
The SH calendar currently has students going to classes through Wednesday, June 4.
Superintendent Jim Halik said while some districts will take the DOE up on its offer to extend days or go to school on Saturdays, he is not in favor of that idea.
“How is that good for kids?” Halik said. “Think of an elementary-aged child in kindergarten through third or fourth grade. After they’ve had their lunch, they get tired.”
He said putting younger students on a bus at 7:30 a.m. and then extending the day by an hour or more wouldn’t get many students home until well after 5 p.m.
“You want to do that how many days in a row?” Halik said. “How academically is that good for kids?”
He said adults, who are coming up with these types of ideas, are not putting the needs of the student first.
“I have to think about kids, and normalcy is the best policy for them,” Halik said.
The state has already offered unconditional waivers for two days missed during a paralyzing winter storm in January that also brought subarctic temperatures. Even with those waivers, many school districts expect to extend classes into June.
That has forced many districts to move final exams and graduation dates.
Districts that don’t complete the state-mandated 180 days of instruction can face financial penalties.
Kristy Deer of the Daily Reporter staff and The Associated Press contributed to this story.