Marshfield School District deals with harsh weather conditions
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield School District does not yet have a definitive plan to make up missed time due to the snowy and cold weather.
Superintendent Dr. Ryan Christianson said he and his staff have an idea on how to make up for lost time, but they’re waiting to see what future conditions develop before making things more concrete.
“We are going to have to look at a number of different options on how to try to get that made up,” he said, “and that could be adding a day to the end of the calendar. It could be we are going to consider (that) we have a number of half days right now or early dismissals built into the calendar that we may consider making those full days to make up some minutes. Then, third and finally, we are going to potentially consider adjusting the school day as we get closer to the end of the year to try to make up some additional minutes and get us to that 1,137 hours.
“While we’ve discussed some preliminary plans on how we might do that, that plan could be out the window by the end of the week, if you look at the forecast we have a potential of 8-12 inches of snow coming (Feb. 6 night into Feb. 7), so we have a lot of Wisconsin winter left ahead of us and if you just think of last year alone, we had closure dates due to an unusual amount of snowfall that happened the month of April.
“So, we’ve got a ways to go yet. We could easily have more closures, so we don’t want to get too far down the tracks on a make-up plan just yet.”
With the state getting rid of its 180 day requirement a few years ago, Wisconsin school districts have a certain number of hours and minutes of instructional time to log in the classroom. For grades 1-6, the state requirement is 1,050; for students in grades 7-12, the requirement is 1,137 hours.
Christianson said that there are 2.5 days of flex days built into the school calendar.
“So, we can comfortably sustain two-closure days without having to talk about starting to make things up,” he said. “Once we hit day three, and obviously in this case we are already at four; so, we are in territory that we call ‘make-up territory.’ So, we are going to have to come up with some plan to adjust our calendar a little bit.”
Christianson does not have a hard-and-fast date in mind for putting a makeup plan in motion.
“Once we get into the month of March, we are going to need to start game planning for the hopeful projection of not having additional closures. The reason for that is we have staff that needs to plan, but more importantly, our parents need to have an idea on what we are possibly looking at if we are looking at needing to extend the end of the school year.
“Right now, even if we have an additional day or two, I am relatively confident that we can get things wrapped up by the end of that first week in June. If we get past two additional days, well, now we might be needing to talk about extended into that second week in June.”
Many Minnesota schools are faced with the same situation as Marshfield and a number of other Wisconsin districts. In the wake of an unprecedented fourth day of closures last Thursday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walkz issued a statement that said Gopher State schools would not be punished if they fall short of the state’s instruction time laws because of the dangerous weather. Christianson says that will not be the case in Wisconsin, where we says they are not providing an instructional-minute waiver.
Christianson said that the decision to close school ultimately falls on his shoulders, but says it’s a collaborative effort between his office, District Buildings & Grounds Director Ron Sturomski, Marshfield Bus Service, and input from a network of area superintendents.