PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles School District Superintendent Martin Brewer said he is committed to holding Port Angeles High School’s graduation on June 14, even if it requires some creative thinking.
On Thursday he told the school board that he recommends asking the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to waive two days of school after the five snow days last month and two strike days in November extended the school year to the last week of June.
“I’ve gone on record that we’ll do whatever it takes to graduate on [June 14],” Brewer said.
“If we were not to get a waiver, we would scramble and make it up. There are some options.”
With the five snow days and two strike days, Port Angeles School District’s last day of school was pushed from June 18 to June 25.
State law allows OSPI to waive missed school days and school districts can apply to waive days that were missed during a state of emergency. Schools are generally required to have 180 days of schools, but there is no legal authority for the state to waive the mandatory average of 1,027 hours of instruction for students, according to OSPI.
“We do not expect districts to apply for waivers until we are completely through the winter season, and all of the unforeseen weather impacts are behind us,” OSPI said in a statement.
Brewer told the school board that he suggests waiting until winter is over before making any decision on whether to ask for a waiver.
If OSPI waives the two days, that would mean students in Port Angeles would only go to school for 178 days this year. Seniors, who by law can be given a five-day waiver, would then only go to school for 173 days before graduating June 14.
Brewer said the district must make a “good-faith effort” to get as close to 180 days as possible and by only asking for a two-day effort and having students go to school through the third week of June, he is hopeful OSPI would grant the waiver.
He said the plan does exceed the 1,027 minimum hours.
“This all would be contingent upon the waiver being approved and there’s no guarantee of that,” Brewer said. “Just because the governor declared a state of emergency does not mean OSPI will certainly, 100 percent, give us the waiver.”
Director Joshua Jones said there’s a lot to pack into the 180 required days and said twice “I don’t like losing two days of school.”
However, Jones sad he didn’t have any other suggestions at this time.
“I don’t like to lose an hour of school, but we had snow days, what can I say,” said Director Sandy Long. “We’ll do the best we can … to do what’s best for our children.”
If the waiver isn’t granted there are other options to still have students graduate on June 14.
Director Sarah Methner suggested that seniors could have school on some Saturdays to make up the days.
Brewer said another option would be to require seniors to go to school for two days after graduation.
“We’ve got a good chance of getting a two-day waiver,” Brewer said.
Brewer said that even if students do get out of school two days early, staff still have 180-day contracts. Staff would still work those days, but the district would have “alternate plans,” he said.
“Our employees still have to work the number of days as prescribed by their contract, but we will work out how to do that by bargaining group,” Brewer said.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].