Government

Iowa schools might get reprieve on making up snow days

Students make their way to buses during an early dismissal for expected deteriorating road conditions in the College Community School District in southwest Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Students make their way to buses during an early dismissal for expected deteriorating road conditions in the College Community School District in southwest Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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DES MOINES — School districts struggling with making up instructional time lost to snow and cold might get a break from Iowa lawmakers.

A bill introduced in the Iowa House on Thursday would put a cap the time local school public and accredited non-public schools must make up at no more than five days, or 30 instructional hours.

“I think you reach a point of no return on any kind of learning opportunity,” said Rep. Cindy Winckler, D-Davenport, lead sponsor on House File 492.

Many people have wondered if Gov. Kim Reynolds could “pardon” students of their lost time, but she doesn’t have that authority. State law requires schools to hold class for a minimum of 1,080 hours or 180 school days per school year.

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With about 14 weeks left in the school year, Winckler said schools, parents and students “need to know when the end of the makeup is so you can plan out the rest of the year.”

The number of cancellations, late starts and early outs this winter has been unusually high, Winckler said.

“It might be another 10 years before we have another winter like this,” said Winckler, a retired teacher. “But we don’t know how much longer this snow will happen.”

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Already school districts are adjusting schedules to make up for days classes were canceled either for snow or cold temperatures.

Winckler’s bill would take effect “upon enactment” — as soon as passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor — and would give districts certainty in planning the rest of the school year.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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