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Changes in snow day policy considered

October 12, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The weather in October may feel like summer, but Jefferson County School Superintendent David Markoe already is thinking about snow days.

If the head of the Jefferson County school system gets his way, students may not long as much for heavy snow to force the cancellation of school because they would have to make up the missed days later in the school year.

At a recent meeting with state delegates, Markoe asked them to consider changing the state school policy of students not having to make up days when schools are canceled because of snow.

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Students are supposed to be in class for 180 days, but the actual number is probably closer to 175 a year because of snow days, said Jefferson County schools spokeswoman Liz Thompson.

Norleen Hoadley, vice president of the Parent-Teacher Association at Shepherdstown Elementary, said she thinks making up the snow days is a good idea.

"I think we should do that," Hoadley said.

"We were all in shock when two years ago we lost 22 days of school and it wasn't made up except for a few minutes added on to remaining school days," said Hoadley, who has three children - a sixth-grader, an 11th- grader and a college student.

In Maryland and Virginia, students have to be in classes for 180 days and any snow days are made up, said Frank Aliveto, assistant superintendent of Berkeley County Schools.

During a particularly harsh winter two years ago, students missed about 20 days of school in Jefferson and Berkeley counties, school officials said.

"By law, we didn't have to make them up. It's something that really needs looked at again - how much time a child should miss from school," Aliveto said.

Students in Virginia were finishing up school at the end of June to make up for the missed snow days, Aliveto said.

"I think that's a little extreme for the kids to be still in school at the end of June," Aliveto said.

"There's a happy medium in there," Aliveto said about what West Virginia does now compared to what other states do.

Hoadley said she thinks schools should have five snow days allowed, but any other missed school days should be made up.

Hoadley said Jefferson County has talked before about block scheduling of classes, in which students spend a longer part of the school day on one subject instead of constantly going to a wider variety of shorter classes.

But Hoadley said that while she favors block scheduling, she does not think it should be started until after the state's policy changes and requires snow days to be made up.

"Otherwise, you just lose too much," Hoadley said.

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