As any resident of Colorado knows, the weather along the Front Range is unpredictable.
After two school years that saw no cancellations due to weather, the Cherry Creek School District has had to call an unprecedented five snow days so far during the 2015-16 year. The decision to call off classes on those days were not made lightly – the safety and security of students, teachers and staff is always our top priority, and canceling district operations was the best option as we faced brutal weather conditions.
Every decision has implications, however, and we are now facing the impact of five lost days of instruction. State law and district policy mandate a specific number of teacher-student instructional hours for elementary, middle and high school students.
Bell schedules and the length of school days at middle and high schools across the district have given us the flexibility to make up the lost instructional time. At elementary schools, however, we are facing a more complicated picture.
Since school autonomy and community needs are important to us, elementary schools are different when it comes to specific schedules. Every school offers more than the minimum of instructional time during a given year, but schedules vary. Falling short of meeting the requirements is not an option for several reasons. The failure to meet mandated instructional hours could have serious impacts, including a reduction of state funding. This makes our work in meeting the required instructional time a building-by-building effort.
For that reason, at 16 elementary schools, seven minutes will be added to the beginning of the school day, five minutes will be added to the end of the school day and minor adjustments will be made to lunch and/or recess schedules. You will receive more information from your school's principal regarding how specific buildings will be impacted.
Again, as of now, no changes will be necessary to middle and high school schedules, but additional closures due to severe weather could require further adjustments.
As we work to meet the necessary requirements, be assured that we recognize the potential impact on personal schedules. We believe this plan appropriately balances the requirements of instruction with the individual needs and plans of our community.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Dr. Harry C. Bull, Superintendent, Cherry Creek Schools