REGIONAL—Despite snow resulting in N’West Iowa schools canceling several days of class this academic year, all area schools still will dismiss before June.
The 2018-19 winter weather was a rough one for schools. Many districts and private schools had to take snow days due to unfavorable conditions such as an excess amount of snow or ice or freezing temperatures.
One private high school — Unity Christian in Orange City — took an approach that was different from most other institutions in the area.
The school had one full and two half snow days.
“We added 10 minutes to the end of each school day, giving us an additional 12 hours of instruction,” said Unity Christian principal Wayne Dykstra. “It is really tough to engage students and to be productive after Memorial Day.”
The MOC-Floyd Valley School District superintendent Russ Adams said the district will dismiss on May 30, a week later than the original date.
“This is the worst that I can remember in my 26 years as an administrator,” Adams said. “I appreciate everyone’s patience during this year and hope that the years to come are less eventful.”
Shawn Kreman, the superintendent for West Lyon School District near Inwood, said the district will dismiss on May 31.
The original last day of school was May 24.
This was Kreman’s first year at West Lyon so the winter has been an interesting one for him.
“I’m lucky in that we’ve got a great group of superintendents in this area that really use each other for information and discussions before any of us makes a decision,” Kreman said. “Also a special ‘shout-out’ to our transportation director Lucas Bouwman and Lyon County roads supervisor Dave Jackson. They’ve been great to work with as well.”
Based on discussions he had with other superintendents, Kreman said this year is the latest West Lyon has run.
However the late start the district had due to construction also is a factor in the late ending.
The Sheldon School District was supposed to dismiss for vacation on May 24. That last day of school has been postponed to May 31.
“While Iowa winters are always cold, this winter we experienced a stretch of extremely cold weather with frigid wind chills,” said Sheldon superintendent Cory Myer. “It was a challenging winter for many schools around the state but fortunately for Sheldon the more significant snow totals and severe weather missed us.”
The Sioux Center School District had seven snow days.
Superintendent Gary McEldowney said the year was much worse in terms of how the weather impacted school days.
Even though this was McEldowney’s first year as the superintendent he said 15 years ago the Sioux Center district dismissed for the year during the first week of June.
Joining West Lyon, Sioux Center and Sheldon on May 31 is the Sibley-Ocheyedan School District. Superintendent Bill Boer said the original last day was May 23 and the district had five snow days.
“This school year did present challenges in regards to weather,” Boer said. “The Sioux Falls National Weather Service did a great job this year in communicating with school superintendents. This year, Osceola County received a lot of snow compared to neighboring counties. When I would drive to different events in Lyon, Sioux and O’Brien counties, they always seemed to have less snow on the ground than we did.”
Even though the winter was a struggle it did not create the latest date in which Sibley-Ocheyedan dismissed for the year. Boer said the district had dismissed in June before.
The West Sioux School District in Hawarden will dismiss on May 24. Superintendent Ryan Kramer said the district had four snow days built into the school year.
“It seemed like a challenging year, but the number of snow days was slightly below the average of what we have had in the recent past,” Kramer said. “It is always a difficult decision whether to have school on certain days when conditions make travel difficult. This year seemed difficult due to some areas experiencing significant differences in snowfall amounts and varying road conditions.”
Trinity Christian High School principal Jim Regnerus said the Hull school banks extra hours and days throughout the school year and did not have to make up any snow days this year.
Hull Christian only had two snow days, but the school has generated more than the required hours set by the Iowa Department of Education.
“Winter weather and travel can certainly be challenging in Iowa, often leaving us with difficult decisions to make,” Myer said. “I am always thankful when we conclude a winter season with no school bus or serious student vehicle accidents.”