District changes calendar to make up instructional time lost to winter weather



Students leave classes at the end of the school day at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29. After several delays and cancellations due to winter weather, Chilton School District changed the originally scheduled Wednesday early release time of 1:00 p.m. in order to meet the state-mandated amount of instructional time.

Kira Bailey and Abigail Waggoner

Although snow days result in a fun, unexpected day off from school when students can sleep until their hearts’ desire, behind the scenes the district must figure out a way to make up for lost time.

And this winter, there was plenty of instructional time lost. Two snow days and three two-hour delays resulted from winter weather.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, instructional time is the length of time students spend in the classroom learning from their teachers. For grades 7 through 12, they must have at least 1,137 hours of learning time each year.

In order to meet this state-mandated minimum, the Chilton School District now has Wednesdays going from 7:50 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., compared to the originally scheduled Wednesday early release time of 1:00 p.m. In addition, the first Wednesday of March, April and May have become regular full days.

The high school also had to switch the ACT testing day on March 7, to a full school day for grades 9-12 instead of just having juniors at school.

These changes were decided on rather than adding days to the end of the school year in order to accommodate for construction on the parking lots this summer as part of the facilities referendum projects.

Due to the hours required for each school year, school districts often have days built into their calendar in case of possible snow days and two-hour delays. Built-in days allow the school district to already have a day scheduled as a make-up day due to the inevitable Wisconsin winter storms.

Mr. Shawn Rude, the CHS principal, said, “There was time built in based on past years’ cancellations. However, the amount of time we used earlier in the year was more than what we had anticipated. This along with the possibility of needing additional time if more weather issues arose is what caused us to make changes.”

Mr. Rude also explained that the calendar changes were an administrative team decision: “(Instructional time) decisions are made at the district level. We work as a team with all admins in the district to make adjustments as needed. This was not just a decision by me but was put forth by all administrators to meet instructional minutes and have some time built in for contingencies.”

Thankfully, the change of schedule this year had no effect on the facilities referendum projects, such as the construction of the new athletic complex. However, as a result of this year’s unexpected amount of instructional time lost to winter weather and the resulting calendar adjustments, the school district made sure extra days are built in next year in case of more unexpected weather.