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Dowagiac Union Schools to extend school year

Published 9:09am Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Local students are going to have to postpone their summer plans for a few days this year.

The Dowagiac Union School District has announced that it will be extending the remainder of the school year in order to make up for the 10 school cancelations earlier this year due to freezing temperatures and massive snow accumulation the region experienced during winter. School will be in session all-day on Monday, June 9, as well as two half days on Tuesday, June 10 and Wednesday, June 11.

The decision to extend the school year was formally made before the schools closed for spring break at the beginning of month, said Superintendent Mark Daniel. Per state law, the district is required to hold 176 days of classes in order to receive full state funding for the year.

“We were unsure of what the state legislature was going do, but we couldn’t wait any longer,” Daniel said. “We can’t afford to not make up these days because we need our state aid funds.”

Michigan allows for up to six cancellations per school year due to weather or emergency related cancellations,

requiring districts to make up days past that amount.

“One of our teachers said, ‘look at it this way, at least we don’t have to make up all 10 days,’” Daniel said.

The district has already fulfilled one of the four days it needs to make up the difference, holding a full day of school on April 7, which children originally had off.

In addition to the mandated number of days, the district is required to have 1,098 hours of school.

In order to reach that number of hours, the administration will extend classes on Thursday, June 5 and Friday, June 6 from half to full days. The teachers will also hold a half day for professional development on Friday to make up additional hours, Daniel said.

Another thing the district has kept in mind is Department of Education’s requirement that at least 75 percent of students must be in attendance for make up days to count, Daniel said.

“If you don’t have 75 percent attendance, we only receive a percentage of school aid funding for that day,” he said. “With budgets as they are, we can’t afford to not receive full aid.”

The superintendent doesn’t believe this will be an issue for Dowagiac though, as around 90 percent of students were in school on the first make up day this month, he said.

This is the first time that Daniel and his administration has extended the school year in his fours years as superintendent, he said. The district exceeded the number of allotted cancelations last year as well, though the state gave them a special waiver for the last cancelation following the student suicide outside of Dowagiac Middle School last June.

 

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