Snow days after 9-day teacher strike has Tumwater eyeing school dates near July


    Tumwater cancels classes Thursday after missing 9 days in teachers strike<p>{/p}

    The snow and ice have some school districts already cancelling classes Thursday, and that includes Tumwater, which is facing a special challenge because they already missed several days at the start of school with a teachers' strike.

    Crews were hard at work at Tumwater schools Wednesday to try to get them reopened. They have now had four cancelled days because of snow -- Thursday will be the fifth. This is on top of the nine-day strike earlier this year.

    The end of school year is now pushed to the last week of June. It could be as late as June 28.

    "It's really annoying that the strike pushed it farther and now also this combined really makes it the latest that I've ever been," said Ben Rogers, who's a 9th grader at Tumwater High School.

    The Rogers family is making do on Tuesday's cancelled school day, getting ready to do some sledding and dreading what could happen at the end of the year.

    "It's fun now to have a couple of days off," said Ben's father Tim Rogers. "But it won't be so fun if in late June some of the kids are still in school and it's hard to make summer plans then."

    Teachers say they want to be back in school, too, but the strike was necessary for smaller class sizes and improvements in special education.

    "And we don't have teachers that are talking about moving to other districts where they can make more money," said teacher union president Tim Voie of the Tumwater Education Association. "It's going to be a short term inconvenience, but hopefully a long term benefit for everybody."

    The district says it's already shortened winter and midwinter breaks and is looking for other options, including waivers from the state.

    "They'll be forgiven for some of these days when they apply because the Governor declared an emergency," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal. "But every school district has to meet 1,027 instructional hours. That's not flexible."

    Should there be more snow days in the weeks to come, the district says it will look at spring break, but will more likely consider going a full day on some Fridays instead of early release.

    "So right now we're looking at all options and nothing is off the table, and so we should know more within the next few days, hopefully," said Laurie Wiedenmeyer of the Tumwater School District.

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