School system exploring options for missed days
by Celia Shortt
Coweta School System students missed another two days of school this week because of winter weather, and Superintendent Dr. Steve Barker is exploring options to find the best way to make up the lost instructional time.
“The lost instructional time concerns me,” Barker said. “I know it concerns our teachers and parents. We want to do what is best for students and everyone else involved.”
With the two days missed this week, Coweta students have missed a total of eight days since the beginning of January because of inclement weather. It is still unclear how the two days from this week will affect the school year.
Barker said he will be talking with the Coweta Board of Education ”about those two days — whether to make them up for students.”
This year, Coweta has stayed above the state’s requirement of 180 school days or its equivalent number of instructional minutes — 300 minutes of instructional time per day for elementary school students and 320 for middle and high school students.
The state also has an emergency day rule that provides four emergency days to schools fulfilling those state requirements.
With those four days and because they exceeded the state’s requirement, Coweta does not have to make up the first six missed days.
Barker maintains that Coweta’s goal in everything, including the number of school days, has always been to exceed the state’s minimum and not simply meet it. This time, however, he knows other variables exist that can make the decision more difficult.
He said the challenge is that the school system is limited in how much time it has left to make up those days — where they can put a full day of school, and, even more so, a fully attended day.
“We are not putting any next week at the last minute,” he said, as students are out for winter break next week.
In the past, the school system has increased instructional time by adding several minutes to the day, but it is questionable how effective that solution is.
“Can you gain the benefit you’re after with adding instructional time?” he asked.
Another challenge is the different tests required at different grade levels. Both elementary and middle school students are preparing for the CRCT tests in the spring.
High school students do not have the CRCTs, but they have requirements to meet for college and career readiness as well as dealing with a block schedule. Each semester is a set of new classes, so they have more to make up in less time.
Barker plans on working with the school board in the next few weeks to determine how best to proceed for every grade level with making up these missed days.
“We are all concerned with instructional time,” he reiterated. “We want to do what is best for students and everyone else involved. We want to make the best decision we can.”