Source: Sherman Publications

Snow days take school year ‘till late June

March 26, 2014

By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

The extra ‘winter-vacation’ Lake Orion students have received this school year because of snow days will keep kids in school an extra week this June, according to Lake Orion officials.

All Lake Orion Schools, apart from Oakview Middle School and year-round Carpenter Elementary, have missed 11 days in total for winter conditions and power outages. Oakview was off 12 days in total, and Carpenter 9 days.

Oxford Schools are down 9 days, Clarkston 10, and Rochester schools are down 7 days in all buildings apart from the International Academy which is at 8. Most buildings in the Troy district are out 5 ½ days with individual buildings out 6 ½ to 7 ½ days due to power outages and a pipe break. Holly is one of the closest to Lake Orion in terms of snow days, with 11 days off in most buildings, and 13 in another building for a pipe break.  

These other districts are still in the process of determining a make-up plan for their districts, which Lake Orion has just hashed out.

LO students are required to be in school another week because only six days are forgiven in the school year, or 37.02 hours, by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) for the unpredictable incidents that close schools.

The good news for seniors is that they will not have to make up any days. School gets out for them May 30.

Students from Blanche Sims, Orion Oaks, Paint Creek, Pine Tree, Stadium Drive, and Webber Elementary, along with Waldon and Scripps Middle Schools, will have a full day June 13 instead of a half day, with additional full days June 16, 17 and 18. June 19 and June 20 will be half-days.

Carpenter Elementary students will have a full day on June 18 and June 19 and a half-day on June 20. Because of their full-year calendar, school was already in session for full days on June 16 and 17.

Oakview Middle will be in session all day June 13, 16, 17, 18 and 19 with a half-day on June 20. Students will also have to attend a full day Monday, June 23 unless an appeal to the MDE is approved.

High schoolers, except for seniors, will have the following schedule: June 12 and 13 are now full days (instead of half-days) along with June 16 and 17. Wednesday, June 18, will be a late-start day. June 19 and 20 will be half-days for exams.

Learning Options will follow the high school schedule.

If Lake Orion Schools do not have at least 75 percent of their students in attendance for the additional school days, the state will deduct funding from the district’s foundation allowance for 2013-2014.

Proposed legislation (HB4295) currently sitting in the MI Senate may have a favorable impact on the number of school days students will have to make up but there is no guarantee, even though it passed in the House of Representatives. Although the House eliminated stipulation language from legislation which would allow schools with extra days already built into their calendar to use those days in lieu of the snow days, the Senate tacked that legislation back on March 21.

Lake Orion is “stuck,” according to Superintendent Marion Ginopolis, in legislation from 2009 stating: “a district shall not provide fewer days of pupil instruction than the district provided for 2009-10.”

At that point in 2009-10 Lake Orion School’s calendar year included 176 days for elementary schools, 178 days for middle schools and 180 for the high school, so although the current state requirement is 170 days and 1,098 hours, Lake Orion must use figures from the earlier years.

The extra days tacked onto Lake Orion’s calendar would make a built-in-snow-day approach unthinkable, Ginopolis said, because it might take them into July considering the winter.  

Many parents have asked questions on Ginopolis’ blog, which can be found at http://lakeorionschools.blogspot.com/, on why Lake Orion cannot use vacation days, such as spring break or mid-winter break, as make-up days for students.

“Winter break next year is only going to be two days,” Ginopolis said, because it varies from year to year. Last year was the first year winter break was a full week, she said. “We look at the combination of winter break in December, mid-winter break, and spring break, so it wouldn’t be the same impact,” she said.

Spring break is already mandated for the first week in April county-wide, so all Oakland schools are off on the same time to correlate athletics and other scheduling issues.

Another person asked why LO couldn’t use a “main-roads-only” transportation system, eliminating bus stops on the back roads so buses only had to drive the more passable main roads.

“What about families that can’t get to the main road if the back roads are bad,” Ginopolis asked. “That’s just a transportation nightmare quite frankly, as well as using a late-start or two-hour-delay. You can’t predict that,” she said.

Next year schools will be looking at a few more changes as well. This year the 38 hours of professional developmental days—those where teachers work and students don’t— were allowed to be counted as part of the district’s total hours. Next year those hours will not be transferrable.

Also next year the state is changing the amount of days required in attendance from 170 to 175, which won’t affect Lake Orion that much anyway because students already go to school more days than most districts.

“I think 180 days is what everyone’s going to be required at some point. Actually I’m for it,” Ginopolis said.  “I think kids should be in school longer anyways. We’re still on the old agricultural calendar. What we are required to teach kids, the more days we can do that in, I think it’s more beneficial to kids.”