A waiver from the Washington state Board of Education this July allows Sequim schools to cut the school year calendar from the 180-day requirement to 178 days.
But Sequim’s top administrator wants to add 10 minutes to the school day across the district — the equivalent of adding 4.5 days.
On the heels of cuts to pay for teachers and classified staff earlier this year, Sequim’s school board members voted to ask for a waiver, in the hope that it would account for salary reductions without a corresponding decrease in instructional time for students.
On July 14, the state Board of Education approved waivers for Sequim, Federal Way, Mount Baker, Omak, Oroville, Riverside, Tacoma and Waitsburg school districts.
At the same time, however, Sequim schools superintendent Bill Bentley asked for staff to consider adding 10 minutes of instructional time to each school day.
“I’m looking at the impact it will have on student achievement,” Bentley said. “My feeling is every minute counts. I believe our students would benefit greatly from (an) increased instructional day.”
Bentley said he wants to talk more with staff and parents before any change is made to the school day.
“We have some time to have that conversation,” Bentley said.
Statewide, teachers received a cut of nearly 2 percent in pay, but state legislators and the state board of education chose not to reduce the minimum number of days.
Any school in the state can appeal for a waiver to reduce a school year up to five days, to 175 days.
Sequim’s 178-day waiver is good for three years, meaning that if district officials decided not to reduce the number of school days this year, they still could do so in 2012 or 2013. Bentley said if the school year changed this year, it likely would be shortened at the end so as not to affect the start of the school year.
“The issue is not the days, it’s the time,” he said.