News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 3, 2014

Vigo Schools to have long days in April

VCSC schedule compensates for 8 missed winter days

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County School Corp. has announced its plan for snow makeup days.

In April, students will start school earlier and end their days later to make up two days of school lost to severe winter weather.

The extended school day schedule for April 7-May 2 will be:

• Elementary students will attend from 7:55 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Secondary students will attend from 7:40 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.

A third day of missed school will be made up on June 6. (According to the original school calendar, students’ last day was to have been June 5.)

With the makeup day plan, students won’t have to attend school after Terre Haute North Vigo, South Vigo and West Vigo high school graduations, which take place on June 8.

“We really feel [the makeup day plan] is one that meets the needs of students and the concerns of staff,” said Superintendent Dan Tanoos.

The school district has missed eight days of school to inclement weather, and the state of Indiana is requiring the district to make up six of the eight.

Three days — May 9, May 12 and May 23 — were already built into the school calendar for snow makeup days, if needed. Students will attend school those three days.

By extending days in April and adding one day at the end of the school year on June 6, the schedule “will not cause a drastic change that would interfere with students and families,” Tanoos said.

The extended days will begin after spring break.

Tanoos said that he met with several groups and received more than 2,000 Tweets, emails or letters — feedback that was used to help make a decision.

He also consulted with Mark Lee, president of the Vigo County Teachers Association; leaders of middle school and high school student councils; the superintendent advisory council; the school board; staff; and other groups.

One goal was to finish the school year so students, and graduating seniors, wouldn’t have to return after graduation. Several students, and seniors in particular, “did not want to go after graduation,” Tanoos said.

Also, by starting the school day a little early, and ending a little late, the plan won’t interfere with high school students who have after-school jobs, he said. Some of those students help pay family bills.

District officials — and many of those who provided feedback — did not want to use spring break, Good Friday or Saturdays to make up the missed days.

Another positive to the extended-day plan, Tanoos said, is that school bus pickup times will remain the same at the secondary level and will run just a few minutes earlier for elementary.

Elementary children who normally eat breakfast at school will receive it in a sack and take it to class; they’ll be able to eat as the school day begins. Similar accommodations could be made at the secondary level, if needed, Tanoos said.

Mary Ann Etling, the Terre Haute North Vigo High School student council president, said Tanoos sought feedback from student council leaders. “We’re thankful that he listened to our ideas,” she said. “He really took our thoughts into consideration.”

Most students she’s talked to are happy with the snow makeup day plan. “I think it’s a great option,” she said.

She’s a senior, and one thing seniors did not want was to return to school for exams after graduation on June 8.

Those with after-school jobs that start at 4 p.m. had concerns about being late for work if the school day extension occurred only after school, she said.

For some students, it will be a struggle to get up earlier to make it to school by 7:40 a.m. “We have good intentions, but it’s so hard to get up before 7 a.m.,” she said.

But she believes the plan is the best option, and students need to remember they did get an extra week off in January because of weather. “We had to come [to school] extra at some point,” she said.

Parent Marla Petit, who has a son in second grade, said she would rather have added days at the end of the school year. She fears her son may have trouble paying attention with an extended day. “It’s a long day for him as it is,” she said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.