On Feb. 7, IDOE issued guidance to school corporations regarding snow day makeup options. The guidance included non-waiver options, including: 1) attending school on a Saturday, or 2) adding a day to the end of the calendar. According to the guidance, non‐waiver options could be fulfilled through virtual learning, with the exception of end of school year calendar days. The guidance also included a conditional waiver option of adding additional instructional time to the end of an instructional day.
We were approached last Wednesday, Feb. 12 by EVSC regarding their desire to use the extended day option. We received an opinion from the ISTA attorney and gathered feedback from our Board of Directors on Wednesday and Thursday which allowed EVSC to issue appropriate public notice on Thursday afternoon for the school board meeting. In part, the legal opinion reads,
“…the scheduling of an additional hour of instructional time to make up for missed student instructional days will not violate a regular teacher’s contract because the additional time is for a different day for which a teacher has already been paid. However, if a school corporation unilaterally decides to add the hour a day without entering into a Memorandum of Understanding or a Letter of Assurance with a local association, teachers could either refuse to work the additional time because it is not being rescheduled to comply with IC 20-30-2 or teachers could demand additional pay after the fact, which is what occurred in South Newton.
Since the adding of instructional time prior to testing periods will benefit students, teachers and school corporations, local associations should be encouraged to explore such opportunities and enter into agreements with school corporations that benefit all parties. The alternative is to have the days scheduled on Saturdays or the end of the school year during which teachers will be required to work the 7.5 hours in their regular teacher’s contracts as opposed to the 6 hours it takes to get a waiver from IDOE. I think adding additional hours to a school day as suggested by IDOE is a good solution to make up the missed days, but there first must be agreement by a local association before a school corporation can make this decision.”
Throughout the day on Monday, we negotiated the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding between ETA and EVSC, which is consistent with both the IDOE guidance and the legal opinion. It is our understanding that building principals will be provided some guidance from the Office of Academic Affairs regarding use of the additional instructional time, but the ultimate decision will be at the building level. EVSC is also aware that the extended day will cause some conflicts that will be handled on a case by case basis.