Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the date of the second makeup day.
Many would agree, spring cannot arrive soon enough. With weekly winter weather events forcing the closure of businesses and nonprofit agencies at times this season, perhaps no one will be more grateful to see the end of winter than area school superintendents.
"A lot of factors go into determining if we will have a delayed start for the school day or cancel classes for that day,” Sedalia School District 200 Superintendent Steve Triplett explained. “We take a look at current conditions and consult weather forecasts.
“Central Office administrators and First Student bus service managers drive the bus routes to see if students can be transported to and from school safely,” he continued. “We always keep in mind the temperature and the conditions of sidewalks for our many students who walk to school, as well as road conditions for our student drivers. We do take into consideration what surrounding districts are doing, but our decision always comes down to what is best for our students; their safety is always our first priority."
Legislation signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson last year allows school calendars to be based on total student hours in attendance and not the number of calendar days.
The law will benefit many districts including Sedalia 200.
“We have two snow days built into the calendar,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Nancy Scott explained. “Since our calendar reflects hours, we do not have to make up any more than these two snow days due to the amount of hours we have in our calendar.
“This is the first year we don’t have to figure days into the calendar,” Scott continued. “Sedalia 200 had already built more hours into our calendar in previous years so this didn’t affect our calendar development.”
As Scott explained, the district didn’t have to put snow days in during the year, but the calendar committee believed some makeup time was necessary for learning.
Beginning with the 2019-20 school year and all subsequent years, the school term shall consist of 1,044 hours of student attendance with no minimum school days required. According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, a “school day” is defined as any day in which for any amount of time, students are under the guidance and direction of teachers in the teaching process.
For pre-kindergarten and kindergarten grade levels, a district is required to provide a minimum of 525 hours of actual pupil attendance in a term.
“In order to assure that the district has complied with the statute (RSMo 171.0311.1) the planned calendar will be submitted to the Department of Core Data Screen 10 by Aug. 15 of each year,” according to DESE.
Submitted calendars must meet the minimum requirement of providing at least 1,044 hours of instruction as well as including 36 make-up hours for possible loss of attendance due to inclement weather.
School districts seek input from a number of individuals when planning their yearly calendars, according to Triplett.
“Our calendar committee is set up with staff members from each building, a (school) board member, and a few parents,” Triplett said. “The committee develops two calendars for a staff vote. After the staff votes, a calendar is presented to the board for approval.”
During the 2018-19 school year, Sedalia 200 missed six days of school. Thursday marked the eighth missed day for Sedalia 200 this school year.
District administrators have announced they will be in session Tuesday, Feb. 18 and Monday, April 13 as make-up days.
Scott added if the district were to miss seven more days, those would be made up the week of May 25.