Superintendent: Gillett school year still OK

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No need to add makeup days yet

Warren Bluhm,

The Gillett School District’s decision to maintain a slightly longer school day after last April’s record snowstorm is paying dividends.

Superintendent Todd Carlson told the Gillett School Board on Thursday that despite seven snow days this year, the district is still within state requirements for annual student instruction hours.

“I cannot remember two years in a row – and even one year – that we have used so many inclement weather days,” Carlson said, reflecting on more than three decades as an educator. This is the second consecutive year that as many as seven days were lost to snow and ice.

He reminded the board that while the state once required 180 days of class, that was changed four or five years ago to measure class time by a certain number of minutes over the course of the year.

After the mid-April blizzard wiped out several days of class, Gillett was in a position where the school year would fall short, so they added minutes to every school day.

“Really, you don’t notice that,” Carlson said. “The schedule that we had last year worked out pretty well. So what we did was just continue that this year, and that really worked for us.”

The start of the day was moved from 7:59 to 7:55 a.m. The district eliminated a four-minute “passing time” before lunch, and a couple of minutes were tacked on to the end of the school day.

The adjustment added a total of 11 minutes to each day.

“Now, if you add that up over 177 days, it comes to over 34 hours of instruction time,” Carlson said. “So right now Gillett, even with seven inclement weather days, we’re still within the guidelines of the state.”

He made a point of double-checking with the state Department of Public Instruction, which verified that Gillett does not need to add any days at the end of its calendar, and the last day of school is still June 6 – for now.

“I’ll be honest with you. I dread March, because you get those icy days, and that scares the heck out of you,” Carlson said.