No matter how brutal Old Man Winter is during the coming winter of 2014-15, students in the Lonedell R-XIV School District will finish classes on May 15.
Superintendent Jen Ulrich said the kindergarten through eighth-grade district will try a new approach to its academic calendar next year by building snow days into the schedule. That means that whether there are zero snow days or 10, an adjustment will not be made to extend the school year because of time missed due to inclement weather.
“We built the calendar to absorb any snow days,” Ulrich told The Missourian. “We wanted to lock in our calendar so everyone knows what days we will and will not be in session.”
The superintendent said this is the first time Lonedell has taken this approach with its calendar.
“We feel we have a good thing here,” she said. “But, obviously it’s not field tested.”
Ulrich said she and her leadership team put together the calendar that was approved by the board of education during its April meeting. Before the school board approved it, Lonedell staff also had the opportunity to review it.
“Everyone is happy about being able to lock in the calendar,” Ulrich said.
This year, the 300-plus student district experienced 14 snow days and had to extend the academic year by more than a week. The last day is May 29 after six snow days were tacked on to the end of the year.
Lonedell students are scheduled to be in school 172 days during the 2014-15 academic year. But, more importantly, Ulrich said, children are scheduled to be in classrooms for well-over the state-required 1,044 instructional hours.
“DESE (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) requires us to turn in 1,044 instructional hours,” Ulrich said, adding that if there are zero snow days next year, students will have 1,186 hours, or 142 more than the state requirement.
Ulrich said Lonedell students are in class 6.9 hours per day, from 7:40 a.m. to 2:57 p.m. on a full day that includes lunch. Ten snow days, or 69 hours of instructional time, still allows the district to be in session for more than the required amount of time.
“We really wanted to avoid extending the calendar at the end of the year,” Ulrich said. “It’s so tough at the end of May to make up days from an instructional standpoint. This also gives us that little break from the end of the year until the start of summer school.”
In order to help make the new calendar work, the district limited the number of long weekends during the coming year.
Lonedell students will start the 2014-15 academic year on Thursday, Aug., 14.
The district’s two-week Christmas break will start at the end of the school day on Friday, Dec. 22. Classes will resume on Monday, Jan. 5.
Other extended breaks are Friday through Monday, Oct. 24-27; Wednesday through Sunday, Nov. 26-30, for Thanksgiving; Friday through Monday, Feb. 13-16; and Thursday through Monday, April 2-6, for Easter break.
The October and February long weekends include professional development days for teachers. In all, the R-XIV calendar has eight professional development days in it.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Jan. 19 and Presidents Day is Feb. 16.
Other no school days include Monday, Sept. 1, for Labor Day; Friday, Sept. 26, as a professional development day; Monday, Nov. 17, as a professional development day; and Friday. March 20, for a professional development day.
There are two professional development days at the beginning of the year before students arrive and one on Friday, Jan. 2. Teachers work on those days.
October and March have the most days in which school will be in session with 21. September features 20 days.
On the other end of the scale, there are 11 school days in May and 12 in August.
During the required public hearing before the calendar could be adopted, there was no comment.