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Schools consider snow days

Officials try to figure out how to make up for lost time in the classroom.

Officials try to figure out how to make up for lost time in the classroom.

January 20, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

While some Tri-State students anxiously await word that schools have been canceled because of severe winter weather, school officials are crossing their fingers that not another flake falls on their snow-laden calendars.

Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said the county has used five snow days this winter - four in December and one in January - and is already pushed up against set graduation dates for make-up days.

Lynn Lerew, Chambersburg Area School District spokesperson, said, "It seemed as if we ate up a lot of our snow days early this year."

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He said the Chambersburg district has three snow days built into its calendar but has had to close schools four times for bad weather.

Greencastle-Antrim School District works with other Franklin County school systems such as Chambersburg to coordinate school calendars based on The Franklin County Area Career and Technology Center, which pulls students in from across the county, said Debbie Timmons, a school district spokeswoman.

Unlike Chambersburg, Timmons said, Greencastle-Antrim has used only three snow days. The school district's pre-set Christmas break, extending from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3, kept the school system from closing schools during snow that fell soon after the holidays, she said.

Greencastle-Antrim's school board decided to make up one of the snow days on April 16, previously scheduled as a teacher's day, Timmons said.

Chambersburg is making up one of it snow days April 17, also scheduled as a teacher's day, Lerew said.

March 21, which is marked on both district's calendars as Spring Break, will be used as a makeup day if either school system is forced to close schools before the end of February, Lerew and Timmons said.

If snow persists into March, the districts will have to add days past June 6, when schools are scheduled to end for the year, Timmons said.

Mowen said Washington County's calendar committee tentatively set Thursday, June 5, as the last day of school for county students. The date has been pushed back to Thursday June 12, after school officials tacked on the extra five snow days used.

She said that since so much preparation goes into graduations, including dated invitations and announcements, students will still graduate from high school Friday, June 13.

Timmons said graduation has been pushed back one day to June 6 because of snow days in Greencastle.

"When it's early snow like this we can adjust the date because the programs haven't been ordered yet," she said.

Adjusting graduation dates isn't an option in West Virginia, said Rob Perks, spokesperson for Jefferson County Schools. State law dictates that students cannot remain in school past June 8.

Perks said Jefferson has used five snow days this winter and three of them have been added to extend the school year beyond the originally scheduled last day, June 3.

Since June 8 falls on a Sunday, Berkeley County Public Schools spokesperson Mary Jo Brown said, West Virginia schools were instructed to use June 9 as a fallback last day.

"I wish West Virginia would be a little less complicated," she said.

Berkeley County has canceled four days of school for bad weather this year. June 3 was the school system's original end date, but officials have added four days onto the calendar.

"We're not like Maryland where they'll go until they have to to have 180 days," Perks said.

Pennsylvania schools are also required by state law to be open 180 days, said Timmons.

Mowen said school officials will review the calendar if more snow falls.

"Anything is possible at this point," she said.

Keeping students in classes later in the school day, putting students in class on June 13 during scheduled graduations or extending underclassmen's school year past graduation are all options the School Board might consider, she said.

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