School District, Regina dealing with winter woes with unconventional makeup schedules

The School District and Regina have proposed different makeup schedules for students, teachers, and administrators. The focus behind the schedules is student-centered, officials say.


Michael Guhin

The Iowa City Community School District sign is seen on Nov. 5, 2018

Kinsey Phipps, News Reporter

For a week and a half this school year, Iowa City students have been trapped in their homes, teachers unable to present lesson plans and administrators left to deal with Iowa’s winter woes.

The Iowa City School District and Regina have adapted to the missed classroom hours with unconventional makeup schedules.

Both the School District and Regina are required to be in class for 1,080 hours each academic year.

District officials spoke to students, teachers, and administrators to figure out the best course of action. They proposed a plan to make up missed class hours.

“Once we had that information, it was pretty clear what we needed to do to meet those needs,” School Superintendent Stephen Murley said.

Starting Feb. 18, 10 minutes were added to each school day, five in the morning and five at the end of the day, Murley said.

Class will be held April 26, a day previously marked as a “No School” day, and there will be a half day added toward the end of the school year, he said. All of this will contribute to the nine days lost by the School District because of winter weather.

The reason for the unconventional schedule is to cater to the needs of students, Murley said, specifically those in secondary education. Advanced Placement tests are held at the beginning of May, and students were concerned about being taught sufficient content before taking the exams.

In addition, the School District operates in trimesters. Second trimester is losing instruction time, specifically for trimester-only courses at the high-school and junior-high level, he said. The School District has extended second trimester by two days.

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Different starting and finishing times complicate students’ schedules with extracurricular activities, jobs, and responsibilities, Murley said. However, Secondary administrators were positive they could make it work.

Nine weather-induced days off is more than Liberty High Principal Scott Kibby can remember taking in his entire career in education.

“One snow day is fun, but nine really messes with our routines, not just for the teachers but for the kids,” he said. “Your school is sort of like your family, and you get out of your routines to seeing that family.”

Another factor to take into consideration is graduation, Kibby said. The graduation date is fixed, and adding days to the end of the year does nothing to help seniors.

Regina, the only Catholic K-12 school in Iowa City, created a different plan to solve the 10 days its students, teachers, and administration missed.

Regina canceled two “No School” days previously scheduled for teacher meetings, and it added two additional days to the end of the year, junior/senior high Principal Glenn Plummer said.

Every Thursday, Regina holds class during one-hour early out time traditionally scheduled for staff meetings. This was a better option than adding 10 minutes to the day as the Iowa City School District did, Plummer said.

“It’s tough to get kids in the swing of things with irregular schedules,” he said. “It’s been a time-consuming and frustrating process.”

Despite the difference in schedules, administrators agree that they would like the winter woes to end.

“I hope it ends,” Murley said. “We have three more weeks before spring break, and I’m just hoping to get through.”