School districts start to weigh options to make up school days

School districts start to weigh options to make up school days

WEST SALEM, Wis. (WKBT) - School districts across the state will now have to figure out how to make up for lost time after dangerous temperatures forced schools to close all week. 

West Salem Superintendent Troy Gunderson said they built a day into March for this type of situation.

"As of today we will be going to school on March 15, June 6 and June 7," Gunderson said. "Each district sets their calendar a little different and each district has their own commitment as to whether or not they are going to make up every minute lost." 

Wisconsin law used to require 180 days but now it's based on hours. Districts are required to give 437 hours for kindergarten, 1,050 for first through sixth grades and 1,137 for seventh through 12th grades. 

That gives more freedom to districts to decide how they will make up for lost time. 

Onalaska Superintendent Fran Finco said his district will make up days in June.

"We don't build snow days into the calendar," Finco said. 

They could add time at the end of each day but Finco said it's not the best answer. 

"The problem with adding time at the end of the day, is it's not the same as having a full day of instruction," Finco said. 

Gunderson said that's not the only problem districts face. 

"It's the fact that I have 275 employees, some are salaried, some worked overtime when it snowed, plowing and shoveling and answering the phone," Finco said. "Others sat idling because there weren't children here." 

Gunderson said it's not fun to have school in the summer time, but a lot of tax dollars go into schools and districts need to justify the aid they receive.

"If they are sending you money and in my case and the school district of West Salem's case, they are sending us $11 million worth of aid, it's probably not unreasonable for them to think that we are going to school," Gunderson said. 

The days that have been canceled were canceled for a reason. 

"If we have to make a mistake, we make a mistake to the point where we could have had school and we look foolish," Gunderson said. "That's better than having children here and not be able to get them home or someone gets hurt." 

There could be more days that are called off in the future so districts will not know for sure how many days they will have to make up until winter is over. 

The La Crosse School District adds minutes at the end of each day after more than two days are missed. 

School districts could potentially be forgiven the hours they missed this week because of Tony Evers' State of Emergency declaration earlier in the week. 

Schools in Minnesota will not have to make up the time due to its governor's state of emergency declaration. 

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