This winter, there have been a large amount of snow days. Because of this, there are also a large amount of makeup days. Two of these are built into the school year, and the rest are built onto the end of the year, meaning that summer becomes shortened.
There have been some rumors going around recently about alternative methods of making up these cancellations, such as cutting spring break, lengthening the school day, or Saturday school.
Dr. Dave Benson, the superintendent of the Cedar Rapids Community School District, spoke recently with the Board of Education.
“We’ve found out from the Board of Education that they’re not going to grant any alternative methods for making up the days,” Benson said.
Benson explained that the reason behind this decision is so that the school district will follow its pre-approved calendar.
“Once you exhaust your published calendar, then you can look at Saturdays or Spring Break or some other configuration,” Benson said. This means that if the winter continues to be bad and the snow days pile up, then other methods of making up snow days will be considered.
“The bottom line is, we’re following the published calendar because that’s what’s required of us at this point,” Benson said.
The reason it’s so important for the school district to follow the calendar, Benson said, is because of the process that goes into approving the calendar. It’s approved by the Board of Education following a publicized public hearing. During this hearing, anyone can come in and express their opinion on the calendar, following which the Board can vote and approve the calendar.
Another idea some at Kennedy have been talking about is the pushing back of the end of the term, so that the second trimester would end a week later. However, Benson said that this is not currently being considered.
“That’s been somewhat discussed and brought up in administrative circles but we’re waiting to see what happens in the next few weeks, so right now, no [it’s not being considered],” Benson said.
David Liscum, sr., said that if presented with the choice, he would rather have alternative makeup days now than make them up during the summer.
“I think we should get all of them made up now so that we don’t have to go too far into the summer,” Liscum said.
Brenden Jacobs, so., disagrees with Liscum.
“Extending into summer would probably be the best idea because you have three months to do all your plans,” Jacobs said.
Kennedy’s principal Jason Kline shared both his personal and his professional opinion.
“Personally I’d prefer to give up days in spring break, but as a principal I would rather have school on days where students are more likely to come,” Kline said, “and I think Saturdays would probably be better.”
Kline also is in agreement with the Board of Education’s decision.
“The district puts a lot of effort into making sure the calendar is out early so people can plan around it, so it’s better to use up those plans before you start surprising people,” Kline said.
One important consideration the district must take into account, according to Benson, is the large amount of land which the Cedar Rapids School District takes in. This includes most of Robins and most of Hiawatha, as well as Bertram and Palo, and much surrounding rural area as well, extending to the Linn-Benton County line.
“So what most people in the heart of the city consider the Cedar Rapids School District is not the total picture of what I have to deal with in making weather decisions,” Benson said.