DeKalb Schools was closed for 4 days. What is the plan to make that time up?
OCGA § 20-2-168 says the school year shall be no less than 180 days of instruction. It goes on to say that local school districts may, without the authorization from the state, elect not to complete up to 4 days if a school was closed for an emergency or natural disaster.
State BOE Rules
SBOE rule 160-5-1-.02 says that a school year will be a minimum of 180 school days or its equivalent.
Strategic Waivers School System (SWSS) systems receive flexibility in the form of waivers of certain state laws, rules and guidelines. Waived laws include maximum class size, salary schedule requirements and how much money is spent in the classroom.
In theory, it was supposed to be an exchange for accountability for student performance. For the first couple years, consequences for not meeting the SWSS contract meant a loss of governance, so nobody chose to be an SWSS.
More recently, SWSS consequences were modified such that if a SWSS school district didn’t meet student performance goals, all a school district had to do was put together a “School Improvement Plan”. Once that change was made, school districts across the state got on board.
Dekalb Schools now has permanent waivers and effectively no accountability.
OCGA § 20-2-168 & SBOE rule 160-5-1-.02
SWSS systems also have waivers for OCGA § 20-2-168 & SBOE rule 160-5-1-.02. Therefore, an SWSS is not required to have a minimum of 180 days of instruction. Garry W. McGiboney, Georgia DOE Deputy Superintendent of Policy and External Affairs, reminds us, “the decision to make-up school days missed for any reason is at the discretion of the superintendent and local boards of education.”
DeKalb Schools 2017-2018 Calendar
Aug 7, 2017 – First Day of School
Oct 5 – 9, 2017 – Fall Break
Dec 21, 2017 – Jan 2, 2018 – Winter Break
Feb 16 – 19, 2018 – Feb Break
Options – Make Up Days
The way I see it, we legally have the following options:
- Use the 1 designated inclement weather day in February
- Tack on days at the end of the school year
- Capture days from the breaks like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring, etc…
- Go to school on teacher workdays
- Go to school on a few Saturdays
- Make the school day longer
- Do nothing, keep same schedule and the school year would be 176 days.
Dr. Green and the Administration
My perception is that Dr. Green and his administration take academic achievement seriously. I don’t anticipate Dr. Green letting those 4 days go. I asked Dr. Green what his thoughts were about make up days.
Dr. Stephen Green
Superintendent, DeKalb County School District
Option 1: Use the (1) built-in day
• February 16 (Inclement Weather Day)
Option 2: Use the (3) students out days as “captured” days
• October 5, October 6 (Fall Break)[Columbus Day Weekend]
• March 9 (Teacher Workday/Professional Development)
***Options 1 and 2 provide a total of (4) days to utilize.
Option 3: Extend the instructional day with additional minutes
Parents and staff have already made plans for the designated breaks–some have nonrefundable fees associated with them, so taking away the students’ breaks is not a good move. True, these four days were a “break,” but they were a stressful break-not a break for taking a time to rest. Please do not consider taking the days out from our designated breaks.
We shouldn’t make the 4 days up. Just my opinion!
Easy stuff eliminate the long Columbus Day break.
No. Most people have already made plans and won’t be there anyway. That’s less than 3 weeks away??
With such short notice I imagine lots of kids would be gone those days. Maybe that would be a problem taking away any “vacation” days, regardless of timing. Shame for the teachers to plan if many students will be out.
Most families do not plan a trip for the Nov. Election Day. Why not use that day? It’s not a large election like a Presidential election. Might even be helpful for families with small children who have to find childcare for this day.
How many schools are on the Block Schedule? Makeup days in the second semester don’t help students taking AP Physics – or any other classes – in the fall!
They should just let the 4 days go since the state allows up to 4 days to be missed. Those breaks people have plans already and many won’t be there.
Knock off a few days of standardized tests to make it up. Lord knows we have enough of those in DeKalb County.
How would the extended school day work? How many minutes would need to be added to each day and for how long?
April, Not many schools are on the block schedule. DHS is one of the few.
If we end up canceling Columbus Day break, could teachers live stream their instruction and save on YouTube for viewing later? Esp for AP classes? For those who already have vacation plans
Extended school day – The day would be extended by either 30 minutes or an hour. I haven’t done the math, so I’m not sure how long that would last.
Those 4 days are not going to make or break those students. Our educational system needs an entire over haul.
Add 30 mins to the end of school days leading into testing for weakness focus
What difference does it make excused or not?
Truant: Any child who has more than five days of unexcused absences during calendar school year.
After 7 unexcused absences: by children 14 and older, schools and school social workers shall notify students that they have only three unexcused absences remaining prior to violating the attendance requirements contained in subsection (a.1) of O.C.G.A. 40-5-22.
After 10 unexcused absences: a letter will be sent from a school administrator to the parent or guardian regarding attendance. If the student is between 14 and 18 years of age and the ten unexcused absences are within one semester or two quarters, his/her eligibility to obtain or retain an instruction permit or diver’s license may be impacted
A referral shall be made to the school social worker using the school social worker referral form. If a referral is made, an administrator must sign the form and all relevant correspondence and documentation must be attached. The social worker will work with the student and family in order to address the attendance problems.
When administrative action is taken to correct truancy have proven ineffective, the school system may file proceedings in court and furnish evidence for the conviction of parents and/or child for non-compliance with state attendance laws.
This seems like a no-brainer. IF the county insists on make up days (and I agree that it may be a giant waste of time), they should only make up 1/2 of the time and use the inclement weather day and teacher work day. Vacation days should not be considered.
We are being told that there are 4 days built into the calendar already from our Admin and not to worry about the Fall Break….. so confused on this one
Fall break is going to be a really hard time considering it is less than 3 weeks away & families have already planned travel. It is the only free fall weekend for kids who play sports out of school so I can’t imagine we are the only family taking advantage of that. I don’t mind making up a couple days, but the Election Day & teacher workday in Feb I expect would not have as many parents planning to just have their kids take an unexcused absence.
Please, Stan, make a recommendation to utilize the teacher work days first since we have not even experienced cooler temperatures and possible closures due to snow, sleet, ice, power outages, and -remember this one? below-freezing temperatures/extreme wind chill.
With Fall break is less than 3 weeks away, this would be a very unreasonable expectation. I know parents many parents already have plans in place, and they would certainly object. But let’s not forget about the teachers here, who also have plans in place. The days lost were not a “vacation” or “break” by any means.
While I value teacher planning and work days, making up school on those days seems like a respectable compromise.
Longer school days won’t work well for the middle schoolers. Some of them don’t get home until after 4:30 as it is. A later school day would bump into evening activities, like sports practices, etc. I can imagine many kids would be up past midnight doing homework. Those late nights already happen for some as it is…
Utilize teacher work days… use the Election Day too. Do not shorten the Fall and Thank breaks when so many families and teachers have made plans. Tack on the last day of school. Extended days don’t work – tons of kids have afterschool activities and commitments and hello, the middle schoolers get home late enough as it is on a regular day. They are all hungry and tired. School days are long enough as is. Maybe better planning for ‘snow’ days next year…. clearly we have significant weather that causes disruption. We need more weather days built in for the future. I was expecting to see more from the last few years’ chaos.
It isn’t just block schedule schools that don’t benefit from extra days added on to the end of the school year. If semester 1 exams still happen before the new year, then those extra days that were lost in first semester just lengthen second semester. I imagine that elementary schools wouldn’t be affected the way that high schools are.
And PLEASE do not take the workday in January away. That is used in high schools for submitting first semester grades and preparing for the new semester.
I thought only two high schools in Dekalb we NOT on block schedules. IMO, if you are going to make up the days, do it with in the same semester.
And WHY do we have election day off anyways???
Why do we have off election day? A “calendar committee” said that was popular parent feedback. Also, schools are common election sites. There are always security concerns with that many unknown adults in the building.
Do nothing! It was a state of emergency!
I would enjoy helping some of your kids with their homework each night instead of the load my 2 come home with. Apparently some of your kids are at Romper Room or some such. And while I’m on the soap box, I’d be thrilled if they docked the teacher’s salary for the 4 days they missed this week. So long as they paid overtime for the hours worked outside of the scheduled work day.
Forget about it! These kids learned about hurricane effects this week and it’s not like 4 days are going change anything in the grande scheme. If we must- make Election Day a school day though just in case we get hit with snow this year. (Or cold rain in our case- lol)
The Georgia Department of Education provides up to four excused days for Georgia school districts due to inclement weather or emergencies that would not require make-up days. No need to make them up.
Plans already booked for Oct. break. Nonsense to cut the break less than 3 weeks out. Absenteeism will top 40%
I agree with many here that with it being just weeks away you will find a lot of families have paid for trips or paid for camps for their children to attend while they are working. A much better solution would be to get rid of the days off on 1/2 and 1/3! Gives everyone plenty of notice.
That is an excellent solution Hilary Wright Phillips, and days I haven’t seen suggested yet.
The academically challenged and deficient won’t show up for the make-up days anyway. Truancy laws aren’t enforced in the county. For those that care, Kumon.
The problem with not making any of them up and claiming “state of emergency” is that we might have 3-4 more days off this winter. Are we going to be ok with missing 8 (or more) days?
There’s always Saturdays!
I would be all about Saturday once or twice (as a former teacher). In NC we did that.
Jessica Falk This impacts the high schools the most. Scheduling days for HS kids on the block schedule is likely needed.
I agree with the high school kids having to makeup because of the block schedule.
I think the only real option is to tack on to the end of the school year.
There is no value in tacking at the end, all testing is complete, so you are not making up the learning that is supposedly why we are making up the days. Also, that pushes the end of the year past Memorial Day weekend and impacts multiple graduations.
You’re right. Just don’t add it on at all.
4 days won’t make or break the students. Sounds pretty cut and dried that the school system is allowed 4 days due to natural disaster -pretty simple stuff!
Yup. We have plans and I’m not changing them.
It would be just like the day of the Eclipse. Many classes did nothing all day because of the high absenteeism.
We have already made reservations for that time off – as a teacher I would need a sub!!!
Well, then any decision the school board makes will be unpopular. You can’t please both the people who think we should make up at least some of what we’ve missed already and the people who are fine with missing 8+ days with no consequence.
Tacking on days at the end of the school year is the absolute worst option for everyone. Making up days next semester for this semester’s loss is pointless for those on the block schedule. I’m in favor of using Election Day and teacher work day in November and then not worrying about the remainder. Then, if we have snow days this winter we will still have Feb day available.
I’m in the ‘don’t make them up’ category. If some of the random days off are used, we all know that there will be significant absences. That’s disruptive too. Let’s just move on.
Making up 1st semester weather days in 2nd semester is ridiculous, especially for high school. Semesters signal the end of a course (1/2 credit) or the absolute end for block schedules. ES are maybe different, but otherwise it doesn’t help the teachers who are finishing one semester of a course. There won’t be an easy answer. This is not something that should ever happen, so maybe the whole “act of God” thing may need to be enacted. Each school can figure out how to maximize education to get the time in before testing/end of semester. (as Kim Ellis Gokce mentioned. Yes, I’m agreeing with Kim!!)
The school calendar to some extent is a contract with the public. We agreed on which days are schools days and which days are not. The school district planned poorly having only 1 inclement weather day and now they might be possibly reneging on this contract. I have a hard time asking families and teachers to cancel vacations because of the district’s lack of planning.
For those of us with children in the high schools on the block schedule, make up days next semester do no good. I have been a pretty ardent opponent of the block and here is yet another example of why it doesn’t work. This semester already only had 88 days of class versus92 next semester. At a minimum, the November teacher workday needs to become a student day too.
Hmmmm…lots of good ideas here. Thank you Lynn for sharing my loathing of block scheduling, but that’s the topic of another entry.
I would use Nov. 7 (minor election day), Feb. 16 (designated bad weather day) and Mar. 9 (much needed workday, but that’s the way it goes.) Best op for a 4th day is to make Jan. 2 a workday (currently off) and start school Jan. 3. (parents ready to see kids go back to school).
The October holiday is too close for comfort and will result in miscellaneous teacher/student absences, defeating the purpose of a make-up day. Adding time to the day might help HS, but the MS day already ends so late that the kids and teachers would be burnt toast. High schools on block are a special case. Maybe a Saturday or two for them only? No easy answer there.
Or perhaps make up only two or three of the days and get forgiveness for one or two. Or all of them. Teachers are pretty good at cranking up the speed when they need to. Just show fewer videos and assign fewer lame projects.
I can assure you that prepaid Family Fall vacations will be carried on as planned, regardless of school being officially in session.
I say do nothing-it was a state of emergency; there was no choice but to close for the safety of all involved. If a choice has to be made, then add minutes on to the school day while we already have the students in the building. (If I can be honest here, too many people think attendance is a matter of choice not obligation. There are daily absences for a variety of reasons and too many of them are deemed unexcused. It’s very difficult for teachers to keep everyone caught up. But, that is a discussion for another day.)
Seems futile to make up the 4 days in the second semester of school when all middle and high schools have finals at the end of the first semester. Elementary schools have so many fluff days anyway once December comes, they shouldn’t have a problem catching up on their units. Would be nice if in the future, the teachers could utilize online communication and assignments when we have days when school is cancelled. My 10th grader sat at home bored the 2nd, 3rd and 4th days of the unexpected hurricane break. If an assignment had been posted on his class websites, at least he would of had some learning happening.
What was student attendance like today? This morning there were still areas of DeKalb without power.
Joy, I haven’t seen the attendance numbers for today. Your principal should know what the numbers are for their school. That should give you some idea.
Your teacher should have a web page and assignments posted online. If they don’t, perhaps you could ask them to do so. I believe DeKalb’s LMS (Learning Management System), aka VERGE, allows teachers to assign and collect homework online. Obviously that would have been challenging this past week given that half of DeKalb was without electricity.
Leave the fall break alone. Everyone already has plans!!!
They could take there October to make up there days. Just leave it alone and let it self work it out.
Our kids are already exhausted and stressed by adult systems and processes obsessed with grades and testing. This “break” was no break at all for many of our kids working to just catch up on the load and wondering how they would bathe and where their next meal would come from (yes, many kids get their only meals from school).
The discussion should be on what is best for our kids. Forget make up days. Instead, let’s focus on reducing stress by making sure our kids get the 9+ hours of sleep and physical activity they need to feel good and able to concentrate. Decades of research on this are clear.
Dekalb Schools can begin to do this by 1. Making every minute in class count. 2. Providing a syllabus for every class specifying what will be covered every week–on paper and Infinite Campus. 3. Providing links to online textbooks and resources. 4. Not allowing assignments due the next class period to be posted online after 4 pm. 5. Starting school at 8:30 for teens. 6. Incorporating physical activity into every school day. 7. Limiting homework to no more than two hours a day– total across courses, especially in high school. (See No 1) 8. Educating students, parents, and teachers on the physical and mental health needs of kids at different age levels, including strategies on how to reduce stress and where they can seek help.
Forget making up these days. We need to put the wellbeing of our kids at the center of discussions and decisions about their education.
Speaking from a teacher perspective, waive the pre tests for each section we are responsible for teaching and allow us to teach – that will make up most of the lost time! Have school on Election Day – it’s a wasted day off.
Stan, can you support your statement that most high schools are not on block schedule by providing a list of the schools on block? Info isn’t available on the DCSD web site or individual high school web sites. Thank you.
Agree with the folks on not fall break. We have flights and hotel booked to go out of town already like many others.
Extended days sound good.
Kids going on a teacher workday sounds good.
Perhaps shave a day off winter holiday break also?
I’ll see what I can find out on Tuesday
Thanks for all your work to keep us informed!
My 2 cents. Last day before Winter Break is Wednesday, Dec. 20th. What about making Dec. 21 the last day? I remember once when the last day was Friday with Christmas on Sunday! Just a thought. (I am an elementary teacher.)
So many options!
Extending the day for high school students is not a good idea. If you add an hour to the day, that’s adding 9 minutes to each class period (for those of us not on block–7 periods). Teachers cannot possibly cover the 4 days worth of material that was missed by adding 9 minutes to a class. If you choose to add an hour to the day, high schools will not get out until 4:10 or 4:15. What about students with jobs? Are they just supposed to leave school early every day and miss their last class? Or should they just quit their jobs? What about football practice? band practice? softball? volleyball? tutorials? Students involved in sports already have to leave before school ends (sometimes 2 or 3 hours early) because DeKalb doesn’t have enough buses to transport them and run the bus routes to take students home. I hate to say it, but if you are going to add time to the school day, at the high school level, you would have to add the time BEFORE school. It would not be popular, but it would be the only reasonable solution. Adding days works best…take election day, the teacher workday. If you take any of the scheduled holidays, you would probably have a 50% absentee rate. That’s what several schools had on the day of the eclipse. Teachers would be unable to teach due to a high number of absences, so the day would be a waste. There is no easy solution…this time. In the future, we need to add more days to the calendar that could be used as make-up days, if necessary, during first semester and second semester. Parents would then be told up front that these days could become school days if necessary, and then if they decide to plan a vacation, their child may miss school.
Let the days go! My daughter is at Kittredge Magnet and was horribly disappointed to miss any days, especially days spent with no power and worrying.
It will be more a waste so they can say they did it than help the student’s education. The breaks are important already. If they must add, add to the end of the year. That is silly, though, for the upper grades who will already have tests taken.
I think adding the days, if done, will be a case of putting perception over the children’s well being and education. It is a shame if we lower ourselves to that.
Also, teachers are already jam packed with training on work days. If we send children those days, will we excuse the poor already overworked and overlegislated teachers from that training and those responsibilities?
Add five to ten minutes to every school day left to. And up for instructional minutes missed. Problem solved. (Students did not miss the equivalent of 30-60 minutes per day for the remainder of the school year.) It costs millions of dollars to have school, run buses, etc. on a school day, our system is operating on a deficit budget, and it is counterproductive to teach half a class and then reteach when everyone comes back from their vacations. Three great reasons to keep the calendar of school days unchanged.
@CD: deficit budget….only because we have close to $200 million in reserves.
Remember this calendar debacle and ask to be on the next task force -same people are on it over and over – make it a transparent task force so we know who recommended the calendar to the BOE going forward. DCSD only invites “yes” people to be on their many “task forces” – the parents on these should be representing all of us, have their names/contact info and task force easy searchable on the DCSD web site along with each meeting’s minutes so we can give input. And demand your BOE members vote down any future calendar that doesn’t have built in days instead of rubber stamping what the superintendent presents.
Block schedule: 90 minutes teaching (although most teachers don’t teach that much and time is allowed for homework) times 90 days (this semester only 88) equals 8100 minutes of instruction.
7 period day: 180 days times 50 minutes equals 9,000.
Block schedule students already receive 900 minutes less instruction per course assuming the teacher teaches all 90 minutes. Something to think about when discussing failing/low performing high schools.
Education is the #1 thing we can do for our children. Accepting the minimum standard of day or work should never be a decision we have to make. If we miss 4 day or 20 day. We should not consider it a make up day. We should consider it our duty to give the children the education they need to be successful.
My family is new to the Dunwoody system so I don’t know how things work, but I’m the mom who LOVES lazy non-school days as much as the kids so I vote to not makeup days!
I think it would be tough for people to alter fall break plans considering it’s only a few weeks away – most people have made plans by now that can’t be altered. I would just scrap the days but if they have to be made up – use the February date and maybe the November teacher workday and maybe push winter break a couple days since they get out that Thursday.
Learn from the mistake. Plan on adding inclement weather days to next year’s calendar. If GA is like other states, it’s actually minutes in a school year (which are then calculated to reflect the number of days school is to be in session). Do the math add the minutes/adjust the daily schedules. Yes, it will require everyone doing his/her part, but this was an unexpected occurrence. Let’s not whine. Let’s just set a good example for all students and just do it (to borrow from Nike!)!
Nov 7 (Election/work day) and Feb 16 (inclement weather day) are low hanging fruit. I think we can all agree on those two days at the very least.
Teacher here. Don’t extend the school day. The kids are fragged, and the teachers are toast at the end of a regular day. The goal is to benefit the education of the kids. Scavenge the days from available holidays and work days. The upcoming October holiday is probably a bad idea, given the short notice.
Just one teacher’s opinion.
Oh, and thanks for being far more informative than anyone else in the DCSD.
Thanks Edugator. Since I’m philosophically opposed to many of the decisions the board makes, the least I can do is be the documentarian to the failures in DeKalb.
I don’t mind using teacher work days because we do not get to do our work on those days. In my school we have meetings all day. Take the teacher work day because I hate those meetings.
I’ll let the Superintendent know that we’ll be doing the teachers a favor by using the teacher work days.
Thank you for all the information that you provide. I really hope that the decision concerning Make Up Days will be made as soon as possible. There is no way to please everyone. Some school systems have already announced plans. We are very blessed to be in education. Many parents have to make plans concerning their children. Extending the school day or school year will require some parents to make changes in their work or home schedules.
This next comment is not directed towards you. It seems like it takes our system a very long time to make a decision.
1. How many years has Region I been without a superintendent?
2. How long has DeKalb been without a Chief of HCM?
I know these are hiring decisions , and they are important decisions. How DeKalb plans to handle the days school were closed for Irma is also an important decision.
They have people in those roles. Those job openings are posted and they are interviewing. I’m guessing they are relatively happy with the interims and they don’t feel it’s an emergency to replace them. It’s just a matter of time before they make these temporary assignments permanent.
I am sorry. I have been working today trying to make some plans. I was not complaining about the people in place. I just used that as an example of taking a long time to make a decision. I am just hoping that a decision about the days we missed will be made as soon as possible. I am sorry that I did not express myself better.
Thank you for all you and Nancy do to keep people informed
Making a decision on the makeup days is more urgent.
Let’s be clear. You are never doing the teachers a favor by taking away a workday. What the previous poster meant is that often “the powers that be” schedule meetings on those days and teachers don’t actually get the time to WORK. Is making up days on a workday a better option than some others (Saturdays, extending school days, etc)….yes, probably. But teachers get few workdays as it is.
By the end of the week week we should know what the plan is for Make-Up days.
The AJC keeps reporting that the district says it built in 4 days for inclement weather but they don’t say what those days are. The days are not obvious on the calendar on the web site. Only one is identified as an inclement weather day if needed. Can you find out from the district spokespeople what days they are referring to and report to us? Thanks!
They are still looking at the days Green mentioned here.
Forgive me. You are our only source of information. I feel you understand. BUT, the longer the county takes in making a decision the more difficult it is for staff, students and parents. I believe at this late date people who have made plans for the days in October will keep those plans.
Link to AJC article below.
I agree. I asked Green if those dates were on the table. He replied ‘yes’. I emphasized that those dates were only a couple weeks away and that we have to know ASAP. He said the dates will be finalized this week.
I know people who already have plane tickets for that period, and I have reservations for Thanksgiving week that I cannot get a refund for. Taking away October break and Thanksgiving for many would cause undue foinancial and emotional stress for many families-including faculty and staff of Dekalb County Schools. I hope this is taken into consideration when a decision is made.
Right … and not just families and employees, subs are going on vacation as well and will be hard to find.
That November teacher workday should be the first thing that goes. It’s a Tuesday. Unlikely many families had made plans to leave town.
Agree! Go to school on Election Day in November & weather day in February!
Lynn I thought there was a push not to be in schools on Election Day due to polling locations? Schools can’t be secured with people coming and going??
Amanda for generations we’ve been having elections in the schools and for the most part schools have been open, the only consistent exception has been presidential actions because of the voter turn out level.