Thursday, January 26, 2012

Waiver or no waiver . . .

At Tuesday’s board meeting the calendar was revised to make up for last week’s lost days. As previously agreed to with the bargaining units, tomorrow will be a student day and the remainder of any lost days will be added to the end of the student year. There are some in the community who question why they can’t be made up during the mid-winter break so we share how the calendar is a condition of employment and the board does not have authority to unilaterally change it.

The other issue that is emerging both from community and staff is how the governor’s declaration of an emergency situation will play out. They are asking since it was an emergency why do we need to make up the days. Let’s just ask the state for a waiver. We know that this will be a possibility because OSPI has shared that districts can apply even though the official process required for emergency situations is not complete.  It could take weeks before it is official.

The bigger question for me is the importance to us of the lost instructional days. Recently, a coalition of of our school and community groups was prepared to lobby legislators to not cut the school year from 180 to 175 days to save money, one of the governor’s budget saving options. We believe that it was important to not lose the instructional time given the standards and expectations imposed on our students and staff. Does that change because an emergency was declared? If they were simply snow days we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Does the need for the days change because of the event that requires making up the days? Does being able to waive the days without loss of state revenue and potentially salary influence our choice? These are some of the questions that must be asked and answered before making a decision on a waiver request.

What are your thoughts on this choice that we face?


Scott Mitchell said...

Great questions. My response to this is not one representing the union but representing my personal opinion. I believe we need to be in school and teach students the 180 days. It was a declared a state of emergency but it was a snow storm and our schools were snowed out. We make up the days and we teach our kids. I think that just because we can and just because we would not lose pay doing it, does not mean that is the right thing to do. Our job is to teach kids and missing 4 days to snow does not justify waiving them.

So just to clarify again, this is not a union response it is my personal response. I may advocate differently if the members feel differently.

Jonathan said...

I believe we should see how the rest of the winter unfolds before deciding to request a waiver. If it remains just three days, I don't believe staying until June 20th would be a hardship for either the community or teachers.

If, on the other hand, a couple more storms roll in and another handful of snow days are issued, continuing school until the end of the June may be a hardship for some.


Rachel Cragar 5th Grade LWES said...

My personal thoughts are that I need my students for the full 180 days. I have so much to teach and precious little time with them bfore they are gone. If it comes down to us getting waiver days I would prefer as a teacher still being required to work. My budget cant take another three or more day hit.