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DCPS issues snow make up calendar

DCPS will trim days set aside for parent-teacher conferences and teacher professional development from its calendar to make up for time lost to the February snowstorms, Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee announced Friday.

The school system was shuttered for four-and-a-half days due to the record snowfall this month. Rhee said in a statement that she considered options such as lengthening the school day, reducing spring break and converting the April 16 Emancipation Day holiday into a regular instructional day, but that these scenarios were too costly.

She called the new calendar "practical, instructionally sound and mindful of budget constraints."

Here's how the academic calendar changes:

Friday, March 19, originally a professional development day, will become a regular school day.

Monday, May 17, a parent-teacher conference day, will also become a normal school day.

Friday, June 18, originally the last day of the school year, will grow from a half-day to a full day.

Monday, June 21 and Tuesday, June 22, set aside as make up days, will be the last two full school days of the year.

Letters to parents and staff can be found here.

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By Bill Turque  |  February 26, 2010; 4:29 PM ET
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I have no problem making up the lost instructional time but it would have been much better to make the Emancipation Day holiday and the Monday holiday after Easter instructional days. This option would have allowed for 2 additional days of instruction prior to the high stakes DC CAS testing in April.

Tacking on 2 additional days in June makes no sense and serves no purpose except to "make up time." There will be few students in school those 2 days and DCPS will only be wasting tax payers' money by opening school on Monday & Tuesday, June 21 & 22. Another poor management decision on Michelle Rhee's part.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | February 26, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Emancipation a recognized DC holiday...therefore to have students return...then you would need all service throughout the District Government to be in operation...and I don't think that would happen in this unionized city? I do think that the day after Easter would work...but for some reason I am seeing all types of issues being called into question regarding the spring vacation component.

Posted by: PowerandPride | February 26, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Urbandweller - mark my words - this is all about excuses for DC-CAS outcomes. If scores go up - her reforms worked. Despite the lost snow days, it's obvious that the RIF and IMPACT resulted in higher scores.

If scores go down - if only it hadn't been for the snow days, scores would have gone up.

If scores stay the same - it's a great testament to her reforms that DCPS was able to hold ground despite the snow.

And I'm saving this comment to pull it out and say "I told you so" when what I've predicted comes true.

But I really do hope I'm wrong and will happily admit it if I am. Stay tuned.

Posted by: efavorite | February 26, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

What is the thinking behind NOT taking away vacation days? I'm betting she already has her vacation planned and is punishing us all for it.

Posted by: cwlatham | February 26, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

efavorite: Very good points, as usual!

I just think it is completely fiscally irresponsible to add 2 days in June. Everyone knows--education leaders included--that it is a waste of time to add days at the end of the school year. With the economy the way it is and DC Government facing a massive deficit, why not ask OSSE to shorten the school year by 2 days? The record snowfall this year has forced us all to make concessions. I don't see the problem in shortening the school year by 2 days. Like I said, poor management by Rhee as usual.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | February 27, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Urbandweller – It’s bad management, sure, but it’s great theatre! She will boast into any available microphone (and they will be legion) about how she didn’t sacrifice one snow day to the cause of increased student learning. Never will she mention poor attendance on those days. In fact, has she ever publicly mentioned the huge, ongoing attendance problems in DC? A quick google search finds one article in the 2/10/09 Examiner that stated “Efforts to improve attendance are ongoing, Rhee said, adding that under her watch accurate recording of students’ whereabouts has increased from about 50 percent to 90 percent, allowing the District to better target programs to keep kids in the classroom.” It also said that chronic truancy was down 1%, from 8% to 7%

The other articles are about her pay-for-attendance plan and general enrollment issues – not specific information about student attendance. I’ve never heard her mention attendance in her public comments, have you? She only mentions improving student achievement, which, let’s face it, is difficult to do without improving student attendance.

So, it looks like attendance is not her thing. Maybe she thinks of it like student family problems – something she can’t do anything about, so why bother.

Posted by: efavorite | February 27, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse


DCPS students are required to attend school 180 days each school year. It is my understanding that 1/2 days are counted as full days.

The DCPS website states for school year 2009/2010, "The new calendar has 178 regular full instructional days plus four half-days..."

Rhee is collapsing the four half days to equal 2 days. I know that having kids in school extra days can be a good thing but when they have missed so much school and need to make up days I think we should follow the DC regs which means that students only need to makeup 2 days since we were scheduled 182 days (178 + 4 half days= 182).

Is this right? I agree with others that if they add on two days to the end of the school year there will not be much learning going on and probably a lot of absences.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | February 27, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Can you imagine the outrage and charges of racial insensitivity in comments to this blog if Chancellor Rhee had scheduled classes on Emancipation Day? Come on people, be realistic. Even the IRS recognizes Emancipation Day.

Now we have the notion that this backloaded schedule of make-up days is laying the groundwork for the school administration to rationalize stagnating DC-CAS results. Let's say the school day had been lengthened and/or all of the snow days had been added back during March and the first half of April. Then comments to this blog would say this perpetrated because of Rhee's obsession with standardized testing to the detriment of--well--everything else in the world.

And now we have this frenzy of cross-posting with other DC education blogs. This whole thing is starting to smell hermetically sealed and stale, like the whiff of nitrogen and chartreuse fuzz you get when you open up a tennis ball can. The problem is many of the posters here live in the tennis ball factory, so they don't have the perspective to notice things aren't what they imagine.

Posted by: gardyloo | February 27, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

gardyloo - sounds like you've been spending time checking out education blogs? what does that say about you? interested in education perhaps? so am I.

One nice thing about the internet is that people like you and me who don't work for a newspaper can get heard.

I think Chancellor Rhee will have a rationalization for whatever happens, however it happens because that's been her pattern so far. I'm pointing it out, in hopes that more people will notice it and her credibility will deservedly dive. I'd like education to improve in DC and I don't think that can happen until Rhee leaves.

Posted by: efavorite | February 27, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

There was absolutely, positively, no hope of canceling Emancipation Day. Every teacher I talked to about this said the same thing- I wish they'd cancel Emancipation Day or Easter Monday but the union would go bananas.

efavorite, Rhee is the only thing saving DCPS and likely the most functional leader this city has, including the council, and for you not to get it, wow, who is doing better than Rhee? Not anyone on the council. Not the mayor. No union leader... Teachers complained to me about Cafritz and Janney, so you can't point back to them and say they were good, people whined about them non-stop... your statement is just so very bass-ackwards even 12 months into me reading your comments. It's like you live in bizarro world that has nothing to do with the reality of DC that I see every day.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 2, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

If scores go down - if only it hadn't been for the snow days, scores would have gone up.

You do understand that what you wrote blames Michelle Rhee for the snowstorm, right? You are suggesting that Michelle Rhee planned the snow storm. Seriously, you just wrote that.

DC Schools didn't need to close that Monday. I could have gotten my kids to school 2 hours late. Did you demand schools open that Monday or are you a hypocrite? Because you can't have it both ways now... do I have to go look and see what you wrote 3 weeks ago? I will.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 2, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

As a parent of two children enrolled in DCPS and as a member of the DC State Board of Education, I am happy with the Chancellor's decision. I do not support OSSE waiving the 180 day requirement and I can guarantee you that my kids will be in school June 21 and 22 - and that the vast majority of our students will benefit by being in school those days.

Posted by: lisajraymond70 | March 3, 2010 12:55 AM | Report abuse

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