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Snow, ice wreck havoc on school calendars

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By Bryan Marshall

With no real option left, the Grant County School Board voted Feb. 13 to use three days of spring break as makeup days.

If no more days are missed as of Feb. 18, then the last day for Grant County Schools will be June 6.
The original last day for Grant County Schools was May 14.
“Taking days away from spring break was a difficult decision for our board as we know there are families and teachers who have made plans for those days,” Superintendent Ron Livingood said. “The only other option, however, was to keep going deeper into the summer, and that option presented the same problem. We felt, for instructional purposes, our best option was to return to school as quickly as possible and remain steady and constant in delivering meaningful instruction with minimal interruption, so that is the decision that was made.”
The district, as of Feb. 18,  has had 19 missed days because of inclement weather.

Only 14 possible makeup days were put into the 2013-14 calendar when it was approved last year.
Therefore, the board has had to decide how to balance making up the additional days while trying to not keep students further into June.
Students attended class Feb. 17 on President’s Day to make up one day.
The board then decided to make the first three days of spring break from March 31 to April 2, as instructional days.

After missing again on Feb. 14 and Feb. 18, if the district misses one more day before March 31, the fourth day of spring break (April 3) will also become an instructional day.
If school is called off again after that, the entire spring break would be eliminated.
The law requires that districts attend 1,062 instructional hours in not less than 170 days.  
“Because Grant County Schools has exactly 170 days in their 2013-2014 calendar, we do not have an option for extending the day in order to go less days – and without some sort relief from the state, every day missed must be made up,” Livingood said. “Upon understanding our limited options, most students, parents and staff have been supportive of our decision to take a portion of spring break.”

When school districts make a calendar, they are required to account for makeup days equal to the highest number the district has missed in the last five years.
“Next year, our calendar will have to reflect at least 18 pre-determined make-up days, and additionally, it will be communicated that spring break is always vulnerable for use as makeup days if the winter is severe enough,” Livingood said.

Williamstown Independent Schools has only had to cancel school half as much as Grant County.
The district originally was set to end school May 21.
After missing nine days, the last day for students now is May 29, barring anymore missed days after Feb. 17.
The school board voted on a revised calendar Feb. 10 that had students attend classes Feb. 17 and Feb. 18, two days previously scheduled as days off.

The district also creatively will make up two additional days.
By already having more instructional minutes in a day than required, the district will make up two days by attending school all day March 12 instead of having an early release day and having a week where recess would be replaced with physical education instruction by elementary school teachers.
Williamstown will still have its entire spring break and, currently, all other missed days will be added to the end of the calendar.