Making up snow days will lengthen school year

South Kitsap School District will have its schedule extended by four days to make up the school days canceled during last week’s snowstorm.

Superintendent Dave LaRose told the Independent on Monday that SKSD does not “have days built into the calendar that could be substituted for snow days.”

That means the last day of school for SKSD will be June 21.

LaRose said extra days off used to be in the district’s calendar, but they primarily were used for “professional development” for educators. But he said those days no longer are viable because of funding cuts.

He said that adding extra days into the calendar for snow make-ups also would extend the year, which would negate the benefits.

SKSD athletic director Ed Santos said last week marked the first time in his 29 years in the district that schools were closed for an entire week that was not designated for a break. The Martin Luther King holiday was Jan. 16.

LaRose, who has served in his role since 2008, said superintendents in neighboring school districts also had not experienced a week-long shutdown. Some of that simply relates to timing. For example, a snow storm in November 2010 came during Thanksgiving week. In December 2008, eight inches of snow fell on parts of the South Kitsap area that resulted in schools closing two days before winter break was set to start.

Whether he elects to delay or close schools, LaRose said he takes criticism. He said he just hopes parents understand that there is plenty of research and collaboration that is done before any decision is reached. LaRose said it begins with conferring with a meteorologist from Northwest Weathernet and extends into discussions with superintendents from neighboring school districts. Because the South Kitsap area is vast, he said he also must consider that conditions in Olalla might be different than Manchester.

“It’s a tough decision,” LaRose said. “The emotion behind it is student safety. At the end of the day, we will articulate a very extensive process.”

Decisions also must be made early because first period at South Kitsap High School begins at 7:25 a.m.

“When in doubt, we’ll side with safety,” LaRose said.

Last week’s school-board meeting also was postponed. When that occurs, LaRose said they simply take the previous week’s agenda and roll it into the following week.

South Kitsap High School’s boys and girls basketball games against Olympia and Shelton have been moved to Monday and Feb. 6, respectively.

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