APS talks snow-day make-up

ALPENA — Alpena Public Schools Superintendent John VanWagoner updated the district’s Board of Education Monday about the district is in relation to snow days.

The district has already called 16 snow days this school year, VanWagoner said. To help make up for the lost time, Wednesday was changed from a half-day to a full day of school and VanWagoner said that doesn’t really do anything because a half-day already counts as a full day, but it does add minutes.

The state requires schools to complete 180 days of school and 1,098 hours of instruction each school year.

“The biggest thing to that is a real kudos to our teaching staff because they just wanted a day with kids,” VanWagoner said.

The state allows each district to call six days for snow days and can grant a waiver for an additional three days. VanWagoner said Sheila Alles, interim state superintendent, has said that, if a district has 180 days scheduled originally, they can apply for the waiver and most likely get the waiver. He said 150 districts have already applied for the waiver and Alpena has not because there’s no hurry for it. Alles said to wait until April to seek the waiver since so many have already been submitted.

That’s nine days accounted for, so, as of right now, seven days would have to be made up in June, VanWagoner said. That would make the last week of school being the week of June 17.

Legislation is pending that would forgive schools for any snow days called during a state emergency declared by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, though passage of that legislation is far from certain. The emergency lasted five days, between Jan. 28 and Feb. 1.

Discussion was held Monday about adding a half-day of school on Good Friday to take a day off in June. Good Friday is April 19. VanWagoner said some districts in northern Michigan already have a half-day of school on Good Friday.

“That’s the only flexibility we really see in our calendar to be able to gain a day moving forward,” VanWagoner said. “We do not have an extra day Memorial Day weekend like sometimes we do in the past.”

VanWagoner said there’s no possibility to add school during spring break in March, since families have already made plans and Alpena High School is hosting back-to-back robotics competitions at that time.

“Things could still get ugly here, and we are then pushing to Fourth of July weekend, it is not out of the realm of possibility at all,” VanWagoner said, noting there’s still three months of winter.

VanWagoner said he doesn’t need board approval for the Good Friday change, but he did receive feedback from the board about the idea of school on Good Friday.

Trustee Stacey Parr said it isn’t ideal to have school on Good Friday, but nothing about this situation is ideal. Parr said the district should be courteous of people who want the noon to 3 p.m. block for Good Friday services.

VanWagoner said he will continue to look into the idea of having school on Good Friday and he said it’s something the district should consider.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.

In other business

The Alpena Public Schools Board of Education on Monday also approved:

∫ the first day of school as Aug. 26 for the 2019-20 school year.

∫ a forklift purchase for $25,750 and a $500 preventable maintenance plan from Andersen Material Handling of Traverse City.

∫ the 2019 summer tax collection with the City of Alpena at 80 cents a parcel.