Seniors at Pasco’s high schools will have to wait at least another two weeks before they know when they will graduate.
Tuesday night, the school board discussed how to make up eight snow days to meet state requirements.
School Board President Scott Lehrman explained the board needs to consider all of its options before making any decision concerning graduation or the end of school.
Pasco board members Steve Christensen and Aaron Richardson supported keeping graduation for the four high schools in the Pasco district between June 1 and 3.
The board discussed eliminating a scheduled day off on March 3, but said it would need to be discussed with the teachers union.
Teachers union president Greg Olson asked people to remain patient while they work with administrators on solutions. The union hasn’t polled its members to find out what type of solutions they support.
State law requires 180 days of class for most students. Schools can schedule seniors to spend five days out of class, allowing them to graduate a week before school ends.
Gov. Jay Inslee recently declared a state of emergency that included Benton and Franklin counties because of the unusually severe winter. The declaration triggered state law that allows districts to apply for a waiver from the 180-day requirement.
To receive the waiver, the districts need to meet two criteria — classes need to continue until June 14, and students need to make up three of the eight missed days before then.
Kennewick and Richland are looking for ways for seniors to graduate before they finish school on June 7, to avoid inconveniencing students, parents and relatives who have made travel plans for graduation.
At this point, seniors need to spend until at least June 7 in school. If they don’t, the districts risk losing a portion of their state funding.
Richland officials estimate ending school early could cost about $150,000.
Kennewick’s Superintendent Dave Bond said the change would possibly cost the district about $45,000 a day.
Glenda Cloud, Pasco’s deputy superintendent of operations, said the district risks losing roughly $43,600 a day.
It’s unknown whether the districts can add Saturdays to the schedule, cancel days off or do something else as a way to cut the amount of days the students need to spend in school.
Seniors may graduate earlier and return to school. It remains unclear what the students would do during the extra days.
Bond said state officials want students to do the same type of things they would normally do during the school year, so the district could hold career days and assemblies.
Kennewick and Richland are trying to end all classes by June 14, but Pasco officials remain undecided about the last day of school.
Feedback from teachers in Kennewick and Richland expressed support for not extending the school year to June 21.
The districts are also trying to figure out how to get in an average of 1,027 instructional hours per grade level. The state does not offer a waiver for the requirement.
Kennewick met the requirement with an agreement to cancel the remaining early release and report card preparation days at the high school and middle school.
Richland is still discussing whether to make changes to the school calendar.