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The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

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Kinley Gigous
Kinley Gigous
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Kinley Gigous is a freshman and a photographer for Free State Journalism. Outside of journalism she is involved in theatre, soccer, forensics, and Finer Things club. Outside of school, she enjoys crocheting...

BREAKING NEWS: Board Approves New Plan to Make Up Snow Days

Discussion sparks a set schedule for quarter four
BREAKING+NEWS%3A+Board+Approves+New+Plan+to+Make+Up+Snow+Days

After yesterday’s uproar following the district’s new schedule release aiming to offset this year’s snow days, Lawrence Board of Education President Kelly Jones called a special meeting of the USD 497 Board of Education at 4:15 today on Friday, March 8. After discussion, a set schedule was made for students to make up the instructional time necessary to meet the state-required minimum.

Graphic by Geneva Sabatini.

The full district plan: Wednesdays will remain early dismissal days for all students, elementary and secondary. Middle and high school students will instead attend a full week, Monday through Friday, for the final week of school, May 20-24. Middle schools will release students at 11:30 a.m. on the last Friday, May 24. Middle schools will start five minutes earlier, at 8:10 a.m., every day for the rest of the year. Free State will add six minutes to the end of each school day for the rest of the year, including on Wednesdays.

 

One of the many concerns expressed by Free State students and staff was the removal of Extended Class Time. After further discussion today, the final schedule will keep ECT as well as the nine minutes allotted to Second Chance Breakfast for students who need a morning meal.

Initially, Executive Director of HR Kristen Ryan said that a meeting on Friday, March 1 was called to discuss the deficit of hours due to the four snow days USD497 has called thus far. The verdict of the meeting was that five minutes would be added to school days and that four hours of “flexible personal development” would be implemented. After the snow days, elementary schools were in the green, and grades six through 11 were in a small deficit. 

Yesterday, a schedule was released for students; it included the removal of Extended Class Time and short Wednesdays. For junior Mason Toevs, he felt a lack of student input with the decision.

Screenshot of the original full schedule released by the district.

“With the first edition of the schedule that they proposed that was sent out to teachers that morning, it was a lot of shock. It seemed, at the time, very much an underbaked decision. It seemed to fly in the face of how they’ve managed to have too many snow days in the past, which was they would just add minutes at the end of the day, which is how they’ve handled it in previous years,” Toevs said.

To meet state requirements, the district met with a state auditor to count and analyze instructional hours. It was determined that the “Hopes and Dreams Conferences” could not be counted as instructional hours, casting the district even further back into the red. It was also determined that Free State’s Second Chance Breakfast module does not count as instructional time, throwing them further behind in hours. Additionally, Free State lets school out 15 minutes before Lawrence High. 

After Ryan and Jaina Craig-Hare, Director of Data and Assessment, counted the instructional hours, they determined that Free State was 21 hours and three minutes in the red, Lawrence High was 13 hours and 20 minutes in the red, and Lawrence Middle Schools were 17 hours and 32 minutes short. 

While the school board decided, members also stressed the effects the change would have on families, including parents who typically rely on younger children to be watched by older siblings who will now be in school longer each day.

“The reality is, yes we have came up with a plan that best serves everyone, however we have to recognize that it’s gonna create some hardships,” board member Bob Byers said at the meeting. “We do care and I want people to understand that we really do understand. We’re just in a situation where we don’t have much choice.”

According to Craig-Hare, members will revisit the options in future board meetings to improve the 2024-2025 school year calendar and address further changes such as a policy regarding snow days and increasing instructional minutes.

“Having that plan for if we have snow days — what happens at one snow day, two snow days, and go through that so we can be proactive in looking at it before those days are used. If we have that cushion in there, that should help,” Craig-Hare said at the meeting.

A full, intensive schedule will be released at a later time. For the most recent updates, follow @FSJournalism on Instagram. Last updated at 6:45 p.m.

About the Contributors
Lilly Wall
Lilly Wall, News Editor-in-Chief
Lilly is a junior at Free State and an Editor-In-Chief of the Free Press NewsMag and Online Website. Outside of journalism, she is involved in volleyball, the Free State Writing Center, Honor Moon Foundation, Project Pick Up, and NHS. You can find her watching horror movies and hanging out with friends outside of school.
Nick Sprecker
Nick Sprecker, Sports Editor
Nick Sprecker is a junior at Free State and is the Sports Editor on staff. Outside of journalism, he is a member of the boys football and soccer program. He is involved in multiple clubs, LINK, and NHS.
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