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Snow Make Up Day Decision – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Posted by L Michelle on March 22, 2019

To our Issaquah School District Community:

We would like to take this opportunity to provide more detail regarding how we arrived at the decision to add the snow make-up days to the end of the school calendar. Below are answers to the questions we’ve received most frequently.

We recognize that our decision to add the snow make up days to the end of the calendar impacts each family in a unique way. We encourage you to speak with your student's teachers or building administrator about your family’s situation if you need special accommodations.

Did the Issaquah School District consider non-student Wednesday time?

Yes. Both the District and the Issaquah Educators Association Executive Council did consider converting our non-student time on Wednesdays to student time in order to gain back instructional hours. This could have allowed us to request a waiver from OSPI for the 180 day requirement.  

However, this approach would only have gained us about two days. Wednesday time is important to our school system as it supports staff collaboration, preparation, as well as time set aside for IEP team meetings, individual and small group student tutoring, and other student support activities.

We looked at the Wednesdays remaining and, with an average of about one hour and forty five minutes of Wednesday time across the system; we could only gain about 18 hours or just over two days.

Note: OSPI can waive days, so a district does not have to have 180 student days. However, districts must still have a K-12 average of 1,027 hours annually. The ISD was very close to 1,027 hours. Therefore, our district would have had to re-capture hours in order to be eligible for a waiver.

Further, if we had agreed to use our current Wednesdays differently, or reduce the number of school days for students, several of our classified employee groups could have lost work days as well.

Finally, had we taken this approach, the last day of school in the ISD for the current school year would still have been June 25 or 26. It was felt that ISD would not have recouped enough to outweigh the negative impacts stated above.

Why didn’t the ISD apply for a waiver from the state?  

We weren’t eligible to apply for a waiver unless we recaptured non-student hours. As stated above, OSPI can waive days, so a district does not have to have 180 student days. However, districts must still have a K-12 average of 1,027 hours annually. The ISD was very close to 1,027 hours.

Why did the ISD decide to not add minutes to each school day?

We considered adding minutes to the school day and its impact on student learning and instruction. We determined it would require adding significant minutes to each day to be of instructional value.

In our most recent conversations with the community around Bell Times, there was a strong desire to keep our start and end times within certain time frames. Adding significant minutes to the start or end of the school day would have impacted our ability to have a start time that was not too early in the morning or a dismissal time that was not too late in the day.

Did the District consider canceling all or part of spring break?

We provide school calendars to families  in advance so they may plan ahead. Our published calendars stated that we would make up snow days by adding them to the end of the year. Because this is what we had communicated to families, we felt it was important to honor that.

What is the District doing to build in additional days due to snow closures for future calendars?

We are currently working with our employee groups to determine how we may build in “snow days” for the 2019-2020 calendar that could mitigate some of the impact of a severe storm cycle (like we experienced this year). Once finalized, the 2019-2020 calendar will be shared with our community as soon as possible.

We are also looking at the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 calendars. Please watch for a community survey coming later this spring regarding these calendars. The feedback we receive will be used to inform future calendar development going forward.