After a mild start to winter, the snow and Arctic temperatures that rolled through the region in the past few weeks have put the Stoughton Area School District’s allotted “snow days” on ice.
After canceling school for two days due to snow and two days due to subzero temperatures in the past two weeks, district superintendent Tim Onsager said any more weather cancellations would force the district to make up those minutes somehow.
“This is unprecedented since I’ve been here,” he said. “We’ve had four (canceled) days in two weeks, two with snow and two with cold.
“It’s been a wild two weeks.”
Onsager said there are three options on how to deal with that situation if it arises.
The first is adding 7-10 minutes to the school days until the time is made up, though he said “as an educator, I’m not too keen on that.”
“We’re really not going to get much instructional time out of a minute or two added to class, and we’ve already missed four days of interaction time,” he said.
A second option is to add a day at the end of the school calendar, something Onsager said would have an impact on staff and students, since it would mean returning to classes on a Monday,
“The last day of school is Friday, June 7; a full day,” he said. “If you add it on, you have to have staff and students come back on Monday the 10th, which is problematic because of trip schedules, and families and staff’s airline tickets.”
Onsager said the “best option” would be to switch a planned professional development day for staff on Monday, April 1, to a regular “student contact” day.
“To me, that makes the most sense if we have to add or make up time,” he said. “The weather people tell me February is supposed to be colder and snowier than normal. Unfortunately, it’s the time of year where weather seems to be hitting us every week.
A group of Dane County superintendents has sent a letter to Gov. Tony Evers asking him not to count two of the cold weather cancellation days last week because he declared a state of emergency.
Onsager said he does not expect that will happen, based on state laws and also what he’s hearing from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, which Evers had led until being sworn in as governor last month.
“(They) made it very clear they are not going to waive those two days,” he said.