WEST POINT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky lawmakers are considering a bill that would eliminate the Non Traditional Instruction (NTI) program, which allows school districts to send work home with kids during snow days to eliminate having to complete a makeup day.
At least 75 of Kentucky’s 173 school districts have approved policies for NTI days. The state allows each district up to 10 such days.
It is up to each district to decide what the curriculum will look like, how it will be implemented and how it will be tracked. Some lawmakers believe this allows for too many inconsistencies, so Senate Bill 73 intends to eliminate these days. The bill passed the Senate 36-0 and is now in the House.
The West Point Independent School District has an approved NTI program that was used last year for the first time with one snow day. With this winter’s blast of snow and ice, the school district has already used three.
West Point teachers have packets prepared for six different NTI days. Each packet equals about two to three hours of work. If students do not turn their work in, it is considered an absence.
Most students are able to complete the assignments online. But for any students without access to computers, teachers provide them with all the packets in a folder. And the educational opportunities do not end with the packets.
“They can even read books at home,” said Ray Flores, a second grade teacher at West Point. “If they’re going to do science, they can watch a science program on TV. And they can document that on a piece of paper what is was about and turn it in.”
As students progress in their studies, teachers update the assignments to match what they are learning at different points in the year. And during an NTI day, teachers are required to be available to answer questions online or by phone.
“They’re still learning,” Flores said. “They’re not just home playing in the snow. They have work to do. I have work to do.”
Flores said providing this material on snow days also limits the amount of catching up his students have to do when they return to school.
“If we have snow days, and we don’t have these packets available, when they come back to us after, let’s say they miss four or five days, then they’ve lost instruction time," Flores said. "We have to go back. We have to go back and re-teach everything we were supposed to teach on those days. But if they have it in here, they can continue where we left off.”
West Point Superintendent Mickey Brangers said NTI days work for his small district of about 120 students. The district has only used them for snow and ice, but he said they can also be used if the district has to close down for a flu epidemic, natural disaster or some other emergency. Brangers hopes lawmakers don’t take these days away, however, he said the district will adjust if the bill passes.
“Part of me hates to see it go away, because we’re getting used to doing it, and it fits us," Brangers said. "But I understand if it’s not being used properly, if there’s just a one page assignment going home for one class, then yeah, it might not be used right.”
Brangers said the majority of parents and students have expressed they like these days.
“We’ve had some parents say, ‘Well it’s a snow day! Kids want to go out and play!’" Brangers said. "Hey, two or three hours of work, then they can go play the rest of the day all they want. And then they don’t have to go make it up in the summer when it’s nice and warm outside."
Using NTI days is approved through 2020. If the bill passes, school districts would have to stop using them after 2020.
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