Dodge City's USD 443 is one of many school districts in the state talking about making up a heap of snow days from the past week.

Dodge City's USD 443 is one of many school districts in the state talking about making up a heap of snow days from the past week.

Superintendent of USD 443 Alan Cunningham said he hoped to determine necessary action by the end of the day Tuesday, but also added that ensuring state standards are met is a complicated process.

"We are working on calculations to be sure we meet the requirements," Cunningham said.

Under state law, school districts are required to provide at least 186 days of class for grades K-11 and at least 181 days for grade 12. The law gives districts flexibility to adjust, as long as a total of 1,116 hours of instruction is provided.

Determining if students will meet the state's minimum requirement of 1,116 hours of instruction during the school year isn't hard, according to Cunningham, but since it's done by hand and varies from school to school, the process isn't a fast one. For example, Dodge City High School hosted the state music festival so students may have attended one day less than those at the middle schools. Staff development days are also scheduled differently at the district's 14 schools, which is a factor in determining the total hours of instruction.

Students in USD 443 had four snow days in the past week — Feb. 20-22 and also Feb. 25. fortunately, the district scheduled 30 to 35 hours, roughly four days, of additional time into the school year in anticipation of cancellations. Sacred Heart Cathedral School, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Dodge City Catholic Schools, scheduled two and half days for possible closure. And luckily for administration, half of a day still remains unused since the school was set to be closed Thursday and Friday for parent-teacher conferences.

Cunningham said schools could come up short on time, but he doesn't expect extra days to be added. If anything, the district would add time onto the existing school days to compensate.

"I want to emphasize the word 'could' in that statement," he said.

A grace period granted by local legislation is also an option. According to Cunningham, in the distant past legislators have waived the state's requirement on total instruction time and granted a grace day for each day the district scheduled beyond the minimum requirement. In the case of USD 443, four grace days would be given to match the four days scheduled ahead by the district.

Cunningham has corresponded with area legislators state Rep. Brian Weber (R), state Sen. Garrett Love (R) and Rep. Ronald Ryckman (R) about the possibility of grace days.

But for now, it's impossible to know what will happen. Chances are, most students will see their six-day weekend free from text books and teachers as worth it. And they likely won't forget it.

Neither will Cunningham.

"In the 39 years I have been in this district, we have never had to call off school like this before," he said.

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