High school seniors in the Tacoma School District will be required to attend school on Saturdays if they want to graduate.
The district today announced the Saturday classes to fulfill the state-mandated requirement for students to be offered at least 175 days of instruction.
Officially, the district is saying extra days were needed because of the school days cancelled during the January snow storm. But when contacted by KING 5 News, district spokesman Dan Voelpel said the situation was exacerbated by last fall’s teachers strike.
Before the strike occurred, 8 make-up days were built into the school calendar -- enough to offset the days lost to the strike or the storm, but not both. When the strike ended last fall, the calendar was re-worked, delaying graduation by a week and allowing for only 3 make-up days. Then the storm hit. District officials say that left a school calendar that offered no flexibility to recover the lost instructional time.
The number of days students will need to attend varies depending on the school they attend. Seniors at Mt. Tahoma and Wilson will need to go to three “Senior Saturday” classes. Those at Foss, Lincoln and Stadium High Schools will only need to attend one since they were already going to school for more days
While the district says attendance on Senior Saturdays is mandatory, Voelpel said absences will be treated like any other, so students won't be in danger of not graduating if they don’t attend.
Additional reporting by KING 5's Cynthia Wise.