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Missed days added to end of school year

The last day of the 2017-18 school year will be June 22.

Despite a search for creative ways to make up for nine lost school days this year, Cape Elizabeth schools are opting to follow tradition and add the missed days to the end of the school year.

"The idea of a shorter year ... it's just not going to happen," Interim Superintendent Howard Colter told members of the School Board on April 10, 2018. Without the missed days school would have ended on June 11.

Last month Colter called for creative ideas to make up nine schools days that were lost to various storm-related causes and to a threat of violence in the schools. The state requires 175 student days a year for grades K-11; and 170 days for seniors.

A team of teachers and administrators looked at several options, Colter said. One was to extend remaining school days by 30 minutes -- a manageable add-on for younger students -- but the state "for reasons we don't fully understand" would only except days extended by one-hour increments. The team also considered holding classes on Saturdays or on school vacation days, but too was rejected because too many employees and families already have other plans.

Last month board members authorized Colter to ask for a waiver of five missed days, but also to look for educationally meaningful ways to make up the time. "There really aren't that many options left," said Colter on April 10. "We are going to stick with what has been our tradition which is to simply add days at the end of the year."

Senior Solution

Graduation day is June 10, and officials will consider that a day of school for seniors, High School Principal Jeff Shedd reported. To help make up the rest of the missed time, teachers are offering sessions of added instruction after school. Not all seniors, but most of them will be called to attend one or more of these sessions, Shedd said, likening them to an after-school "achievement period," which is a time set aside during the day for all students for study or added instruction.

He said participating teachers are being compensated with a modest fee, as outlined in their collective bargaining agreement.

"I feel comfortable with the way it's working and I'm really thankful to the staff for stepping up and participating in an unusual enterprise in an unusual year for seniors," Shedd said.

The extra sessions will be offered until seniors leave school for individual "senior-transition" internships or job shadows in mid-May. They will still have one day to make up after that, Shedd said, but "we've got some ideas about how we can do that."

Chair Susana Measelle Hubbs spoke for the board in praising the idea and of the teachers who are making it happen. "I really am grateful that these will be meaningful days and I'm glad for the seniors that they'll be able to experience finishing strong, versus coasting, to graduation. I think that's a good life lesson," she said.