School Day Extended 30 Minutes – Starting February 11, 2019
Central DeWitt Students, Parents, Staff, and Constituents, ‘Read more’ for the letter from Superintendent Dan Petersen
As you well know, we’ve experienced quite a stretch of winter weather lately, where I’ve made the decision to either not have school, or dismiss early because of an incoming weather system. Today is a perfect example of that. I have received a lot of feedback about what our school district should do in this situation, whether we should start making up school hours, and when that should take place. To be honest, I have resisted these ideas, and was ready to simply ride it out with our current calendar. However, given we’re not even through our first week of February, and we’re looking at getting out of school in the middle of June already, it’s time for me to make some changes.
I have had conversations with our school board members, and I have also presented my proposal to our all of our school employees yesterday, and asked for their feedback. I received approximately 160 responses, and 93.5% of the responses support this proposal. I want you to know that I don’t take this decision, and a change in our schedule, lightly, and I certainly wanted to gather feedback from our staff before doing so. They not only serve as school staff members, but they are parents, grandparents, and community members, and I appreciate the feedback I receive from them a great deal.
With those things in mind, I have decided that starting on Monday, February 11, 2019, all of Central DeWitt Schools are going to be extending their school day by 30 minutes each day. We will be starting school 15 minutes earlier each day, and ending 15 minutes later. We are no longer in the days of counting school days necessarily, although we haven’t chosen to reduce our days in the past for any reason. This school year calls for something different, given the weather we’ve experienced. The following are the changes that are being made:
- Our current normal school day runs from 8:15 – 3:00. On Monday, February 11, our school days will begin running 8:00 – 3:15.
- Early dismissal days, typically for professional development, have been 8:15 – 1:00. They will now be 8:00 – 1:15.
- On Thursday mornings, we have started school later in order for our Professional Learning Communities to meet. This will continue, and instead of going from 8:30 – 3:00, we will have school from 8:15 – 3:15. Morning buses will run at normal times.
What this does for us is adds 30 minutes of instructional time each day, and since we count hours instead of days, when reporting to the Iowa Department of Education, this helps us in the end. I have attached an updated calendar, showing where we are as of today with days and instructional hours. I have changed the hours, starting on February 11 to show the increase of 30 minutes per day. We are required by the State to have 1080 instructional hours with our students. You’ll see the result at the end of the calendar. We are currently scheduled to end the 2018-2019 school year on June 13. By extending our school days by 30 minutes, starting on February 11, we will be done seven days earlier, ending our school year on June 4. As you’ll see, this give us 1088.75 instructional hours with our students. This may, however, continue to change based on winter weather, and we will continue to adjust and communicate calendar-related decisions as they happen. I believe this is our best solution for now.
I fully realize that with this change will come some reorganization of schedules for our families, and I apologize that we need to do that mid-stream. However, this seems like the best option to finishing our school year earlier than currently scheduled. Our school staff members are in the process of changing daily schedules for next week and beyond.
A few things to note with this change. All morning buses will run 15 minutes earlier than normal. All afternoon buses will run 15 minutes later than normal. Mid-day bus routes for preschool will remain at the same time. Our staff hours will be changing as well, based on these daily schedule adjustments, in order to serve our students as we have.
I’m sure there will be questions and comments. Please feel free to send them to me at [email protected] or call me at (563) 659-4705. As always, I welcome the feedback. I have only done this once before, as a superintendent, while at another school district, and it worked quite well. Again, I thank you in advance for your flexibility with this change, and be sure to contact me for additional information. I will be sure to communicate any future changes. Please stay safe out there this afternoon.
Dr. Dan Peterson, Superintendent