Shawnee Mission Schools will end year two weeks earlier than planned, graduations adjusted

SM East COVID-19 signs

COVID-19 has forced teachers and students in SMSD to spend much of the year in some form of remote learning. The district says the school year will now end two weeks earlier than originally planned. Photo credit Holly Cook.

A revision in Shawnee Mission Schools calendar means students and staff will be starting summer two weeks earlier than expected.

The board of education on Monday approved a plan shortening the school year by two weeks.

The final day of classes for students K-11 will now be Thursday, May 27, instead of Thursday, June 10, as originally planned. The final day for pre-K students will be Wednesday, May 26.

View the revised calendar here.

The dates for high school graduations will also be adjusted with the amended calendar.

Graduations will now be scheduled for the following dates:

  • Monday, May 24: SM East and SM South
  • Tuesday, May 25: SM North and SM West
  • Wednesday, May 26: Horizons and SM Northwest

A ‘reward’ for a difficult year

The Shawnee Mission Schools calendar adjustment is a response to the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is an opportunity to reward our teachers and staff that have worked hard all year under difficult circumstances,” Deputy Superintendent Rick Atha said Monday.

The teachers union NEA-SM signed off on the calendar revision.

NEA-SM President Linda Sieck said getting out before Memorial Day will allow for a “more traditional summer” that will give teachers “time to recuperate and reflect on what next school year will look like.”

No room for snow days

A one-time waiver issued by the Kansas Department of Education accommodated the schedule change.

The waiver allows public school districts to count some teacher professional development time towards a state-mandated minimum of “student contact hours.”

Atha told the board Monday that there is no room in the revised Shawnee Mission Schools calendar to accommodate any cancellation of classes between now and the end of the year, for example, if an ice storm knocked out power to the district for a day.

He said if that were to occur, they would have to “revisit” the new calendar and make up that lost time, potentially by adding a day to the end of the year.

Classified workers covered

Classified employees, including custodians, food service workers, classroom paraprofessionals and secretaries, will also be impacted.

Some of these workers, who are paid hourly, lost some days at the start of the year after the beginning of the academic calendar was pushed back to after Labor Day.

The district at that time committed to extending the school year into June in order to allow those workers to make up their lost days.

With the revised calendar now shortening the end of the year, too, the district said it will commit to paying classified workers for their lost time out of funds already budgeted for hourly wages.