Students starting school late due to construction delay will not have to make up all missed days

Lake Grove and Wildwood grades 1-5 to start school Sept. 9; grade K to begin Sept. 12 due to delayed construction.

After Federal Way Public Schools postponed Lake Grove and Wildwood elementary’s first day of school by four days, the board of directors passed a resolution to waive the state requirement of 180 school days per year for the two schools at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Due to a permitting challenge with the city over widening the driveway to accommodate more traffic at the schools’ temporary site at the former DeVry Campus building, nearly 1,000 elementary school students will tentatively begin the first day of school on Monday, Sept. 9 — four days later than scheduled.

The district updated parents on Wednesday in a press release stating, “We anticipate the first day of school for Lake Grove and Wildwood elementary students in grades 1-5 will still be Monday, Sept. 9.”

However, the first regular day of school for Lake Grove and Wildwood kindergarten students is tentatively set for Thursday, Sept. 12 — seven days after the original first day of school, the district announced Aug. 28.

FWPS Superintendent Dr. Tammy Campbell introduced the resolution to the board at Tuesday’s meeting and said the waiver had two major goals in sight.

“You’ll see we had two things we wanted to accomplish: More instructional time for scholars to make up for the lost time as well as a transition day for our teachers because you’re talking about a site where they need time to get into the building and set up their classrooms,” Campbell said.

All other schools in the FWPS district will begin school on Sept. 3 and will fulfill the state required minimum of 180 school days per year.

“Delays and scheduled completion of construction projects beyond the control of school district board of directors will delay the scheduled start of school for Wildwood and Lake Grove elementary schools until September 9,” the resolution states.

Students will make up two-and-a-half days of missed attendance with full days on Oct. 11, 2019 and Feb. 14, 2020, and a half day on Jan. 31 2020. These three days were previously scheduled as non-school days.

Families will be provided three additional hours of student-led conference time to accommodate the longer individual sessions during the fall conference session.

Combined, these options makes up three of the four days with the final delay day waived by resolution.

To make up the final delay day, and any additional days, the district will seek a waiver from the state for one day of student attendance, according to the Aug. 28 press release.

To promote a safe transition of the temporary site, staff will participate in a safety and logistics orientation related to the temporary site on the scholar waiver day, which will be during the week of Sept. 2-6.

The resolution allows for one non-scholar day on Sept. 6, which will be used as an adjustment day for staff.

“During this time, scholars would not attend during the construction delays and staff will participate in a safety and logistics orientation [at] the temporary site for safe transitions … into the site.”

Board member Dr. Jennifer Jones moved to approve the resolution; board member Luckisha Phillips seconded the motion. Board president Geoffery McAnalloy shared his disagreement with the resolution on Tuesday.

“I believe as we look at these two schools and look at the achievement of the scholars for these two schools, they’re in the lower third,” McAnalloy said.

“I, for one, will not vote in favor of this because I don’t believe we’re taking care of the sholars’ best interests. It’s our responsibility as a board to make sure we’re doing everything we can to support our scholars and they’re our stakeholders and for us to cut it down a-day-and-a-half from what they get …”

McAnalloy said he understands the teachers need time to adjust to the new campus.

“It’s our responsibility as a board to make sure that we’re giving every opportunity for every single hour,” he said.

One of the days intended to be a half day will “end up more in transition” than learning time for the three-hour half day, he said.

“We’re putting three hours into what’s called scholar-led conferences that really isn’t going to make a difference in learning for our scholars at the end of the day.”

McAnalloy said if the resolution isn’t creating at least three days for the scholars to make up for lost time “then I just can’t support it.”

After a board vote, the waiver resolution passed 2-1. The district will provide a final update on the first day of school for Lake Grove and Wildwood by Wednesday, Sept. 4.