Officials wary with potential for bad weather still ahead

Last updated: February 16. 2014 11:26PM - 4393 Views
By - jlynott@civitasmedia.com

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Snow has piled up and so have the cancellations for school districts, causing some administrators to adjust their calendars to hold onto the graduation dates.

With six snow days used already and none built into its school year, Hanover Area scheduled today as a make-up day for students. Crestwood has added two days in June and taken away three holidays as part of its calendar adjustment.

It’s just past mid-February and winter has a way to go before school officials can rule out any more changes to reach the state-mandated 180 days of classes. Districts considering weather-related extensions can add time to the school day to comply, but they need permission from the state.

“We have our fingers crossed. March can be brutal,” said Chuck Suppon, superintendent of the Wyoming Valley West School District.

The district on the West Side of the Susquehanna River has five snow days plugged into the calendar. Once they’re exhausted the district tacks on days toward the end of the school year, Suppon explained.

High school graduation is set for June 6 and in order to stick to that date seniors might be asked to come in on a Saturday, Suppon said. It’s happened before with great success and the students had activities in the auditorium and a cookout to cap the day, he said.

Dave McLaughlin-Smith, Crestwood superintendent, has a planned graduation date of June 13. It had been set for June 11 when the calendar was made months ago.

The district identified as make-up days June 12 and 13, the scheduled Spring Break holidays of April 17 and 22 and May 23, the Friday before the Memorial Day.

“Hopefully, the available days will work for Crestwood,” McLaughlin-Smith said in an email.

Hanover Area School District also has passed its originally scheduled graduation date of June 11.

“We’re now into, up into the next week,” said Andrew Kuhl, Hanover Area superintendent. He’d like to see it no later than June 13 and, like other districts, has to do some fine tuning to the schedule to meet that date.

“Overall, it’s been hectic. It’s been chaotic,” Kuhl said. Hanover Area does not include snow days in its calendar and so far has called six such days.

The district is using vacation days and adding dates at the end of the year.

There is another way out, however, and it requires approval by the state Department of Education.

The department allows districts to lengthen the school day to comply with the hourly mandates — 900 hours of instruction for grades one through six and 990 for grades seven through 12.

Each district would need to calculate its total instructional hours for the school year to determine how much time to add to the school day, said Tim Eller, a spokesman for the governor’s office.

So far there have not been any requests submitted from schools to calculate by the hour, Eller said.

Staff writer Mary Guydish contributed to the story.

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