School calendar similar to last yr.

By Marcie Klomp

Although the 2014-15 calendar will follow the 2013-14 format, there are a few changes. The biggest change will be going from a set number of days to hours.

In the past, students attending Howard-Winneshiek School District were required to attend school for 180 days. That is changing for the 2014-15 school year as the board approved the alternative of attending for 1,080 hours at its monthly meeting on April 14.

A regular school day consists of 6.5 hours. Multiply that by 180 days and it equals 1,170 hours—way over the State’s requirement of 1,080 hours. But take away the three-hour early outs every-other Wednesday for professional development, which is state mandated, and other early outs, and the district has a grace period of around 13 hours. That can easily be eaten up by late starts and early dismissals due to weather, not to mention the cancellations. Hey, it’s going to happen. This is the midwest after all!

The major reason the state’s third largest district (by area) is going for hours versus days is because of a change in the Iowa law. A minimum of six hours constitutes a day. So if school started late due to ice or snow, it would have to close since it wouldn’t count anyway.

Supt. John Carver explained, “We’re having ongoing conversations for having virtual days. So far the statute says school time is still face-to-face, but I have asked for a waiver.” The students all have computer devices that would allow teachers to assign homework over the Internet.
Fall parent-teacher conferences will be held Nov. 17 and 20. A comp day has to be given within seven days, so the administration is giving that on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, providing for a five-day weekend.

Carver continued, “We are having discussions about needing the traditional parent-teacher conference. We want to revisit that in the future.” His explanation was that with all the opportunities parents have of contacting the teacher and reading about what is happening in class through weekly updates, parents can be updated more than twice a year.

In addition, teachers welcome input from parents about their students at any time. Parent-teacher conferences may be a thing of the past in the near future.

Other dates on the calendar are Dec. 19 as the end of the first semester, May 17 as graduation and May 21 as the end of the second quarter, barring no snow days.

The entire calendar can be seen on the school’s website at http://www.howard-winn.k12.ia.us/

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