Local School Districts Start Receiving Snow Waivers

SPOKANE — The snow may be gone for now, but local schools are still trying to play catch up from the big winter storm last month and on Monday four local districts learned they won’t have to make up days lost to the snow. 

Spokane, Central Valley, Orchard Prairie and the Freeman School District all found out Monday they would not have to make up some days lost to the snow storm. However with the first list of school day waivers out, districts still aren’t sure if they’ll use them.

School boards, administrators and parents will determine how they get around the snow day scheduling dilemma.

Orchard Prairie is, geographically speaking, the smallest school district in Washington. The district, which teaches kindergarten through seventh grade, has just 65 students. Several weeks ago the five square miles the district encompasses was buried in snow.

“It was really bad. We could hardly get any cars into the parking lot,” Duane Reidenbach with the Orchard Prairie School District said. “It wasn’t safe for the students or the parents to come.”

Like many districts in eastern Washington, Orchard Prairie had to cancel school after the snowstorm. The district was shutdown for five days.

“We hadn’t closed school for many years,” Reidenbach said. “We do have flat spots on our prairie and the wind was blowing so we had a lot of drifting.”

Students in Washington have to be in class for 1,000 hours but if there’s a state of emergency declared in an area, the state can waive that requirement. Orchard Prairie had its five day waiver approved.

“We won’t be making up the days with the students. We will ask staff to make up the hours they lost,” Reidenbach said.

In addition to Orchard Prairie, Spokane Public Schools was granted three days in its waiver and recently finished a poll to find out how parents want to proceed. Central Valley’s school board will make its decision Monday night.

“What the waiver will give us … is a lot more flexibility,” Melanie Rose with the Central Valley School District said. “The school board will be able to say we make up all three days, or we don’t, or we might do some combination.”

There will likely be more waivers for other districts in the area hit hard by last month’s snow storms coming from state officials in the days ahead.