Decision Delayed On School Snow Waivers

SPOKANE – The Spokane school board held more discussions Wednesday night on whether to use a waiver granted by the state, but made no decisions.

The waiver would not require students in District 81 to make-up the four school days lost due to last month’s winter storms.

The school district wanted parents’ opinion to help them decide. An overwhelming number of parents polled said they were in favor of the waiver. In fact, 86 percent of parents polled said they favored using the waiver.

But school officials are torn, because they say four days is a significant loss of instructional time for students.

Parents received an automated phone call asking them to call in or go to the web and vote, where they had three options to choose from. One was to use the waiver.

Then, if parents were in favor of making up the canceled school days, they had the choice of either adding 15 minutes to the beginning of each school day, not counting Thursdays. The other option to add four days at the end of the school year.

Ken Brown, the executive director of technology and information services, collected and organized the data. Despite some questions Wednesday night of the margin of error in this non-scientific poll, he believes it does reflect what families want.

“It achieved our goal of trying to solicit information from the community,” he says, “and it provided valuable feedback in that respect.”

Close to 8,000 people responded. The poll results, cost factors, and considering what the union has to say will all weigh on the mind of the superintendent, Nancy Stowell. She will have the final say.

The Spokane Education Association, which represents over 3,000 teachers, says it favors the waiver because it falls in line with its contract in terms of working conditions and benefits.