Will Irma make the school year longer?

Hurricane Irma and its aftermath cost South Florida school districts seven school days. In the storm-ravaged Florida Keys, schools may not reopen until later in the month.

Will South Florida school districts just make the school year longer by adding back all the days they lost at the end of the school year? Or would they get rid of teacher planning days all together?

Don’t count on it, say education leadership professors Peter Cistone and Ricardo Garcia of the School of Education and Human Development.

“I don’t think Miami-Dade County Public Schools will have to adjust its calendar because from the beginning of the school year it built in extra days,” Cistone said. “The fact that we haven’t heard a discussion about adding days gives me an indication they haven’t decided to change the calendar yet.”

Expect that to change, however, if schools are disrupted by another disaster. At that point, school districts are likely to try a few tactics to provide students with the required 180 days of classes.

More than likely, Cistone said, districts would cut back on teacher planning days and, if they had no choice, they would shorten the end-of-year break or add some days to the end of the school year.

“They try not to be disruptive to parents’ schedules,” said Garcia, who was an administrator with the Arlington (Texas) Independent School District.

Even then, there are likely limits on how many school days districts would add to the calendar. Adding too many days might break the budget, Garcia said.

All told, it’s quite possible your public school children won’t have school days added to their calendar – then again, hurricane season doesn’t end until November.