The slippery layer of ice that coated Johnson County roads overnight led to the cancelation of classes at Shawnee Mission Schools, and pushed the district to the brink of needing to extend the school year to meet state requirements for time in class.
Shawnee Mission has now canceled classes on account of inclement weather eight times this year. It had four snow days built into the school calendar.
Kansas State Department of Education policy requires students be in school a minimum number of hours during a school year — but it retains the right to forgive hours for every cushion day a district builds into its schedule.
“In other words, for every snow day that the district schedules, the state will forgive an equal number of days,” said the district in a message this week. “Since the district built in four snow days, up to eight snow days can be used without having to adjust the calendar.”
That means that, as long as there are no additional inclement weather days, the district could keep its last day of school for grades K-11 set as scheduled for Thursday, May 23.
It appears that three Shawnee Mission elementaries, however, may already need to look at adding time to their schedules. Power outages caused by Winter Storm Gia in mid-January forced an additional day of canceled classes at John Diemer, Tomahawk and Brookridge, meaning students at those buildings have now been out of school nine days due to weather this year.
With the prospect of additional bad winter weather still on the horizon, the district will likely not be able to make a final determination about potential changes to the school calendar for the year until after Spring Break.
The combination of federal holidays and bad weather since the start of the third quarter have posed a scheduling challenge for many parents. Of the eight weeks since school reconvened Jan. 7, only the first two have been full five-day weeks (and the week of Jan. 14 was shortened for the families at the three elementaries mentioned above). Students have not had a full five-day week at school for the past six weeks.