Districts weigh options as weather-related cancellations pile up

By Ben Holbrook | Mar 10, 2017
Source: File Image One of several storms that have closed schools this winter, a blizzard Feb. 13 pounded the Midcoast with more than two feet of snow that drifted on Main Street, Belfast.

With wintry weather forcing schools to cancel several days of classes so far this year, districts are considering how to account for those missed days.

In Regional School Unit 3, which has canceled six days because of inclement weather, directors voted Feb. 27 to adjust the calendar and send students to school March 17, which was originally scheduled as teacher in-service day.

Also, the district is pushing high school graduation, originally planned for June 4, to June 11.

Northport is also considering making up some of its snow days by holding classes on what would have otherwise been teacher in-service days, Superintendent Judy Lucarelli said, and then extending the school year additional days to account for the remainder.

By law, schools must be in session for at least 175 days a year for K-11 students, while seniors are required to attend 170 days. In some circumstances, districts can submit an application to the Department of Education to reduce or waive the minimum required days.

However, those waivers are reserved as a last resort option and are only granted when a district has exhausted all other possible avenues for making up the lost days, which includes holding classes on the weekend.

A few years ago when a series of storms pounded the area for a month straight, directors in Regional School Unit 20 considered sending students to school on Saturdays to make up a portion of the missed days.

However, that plan was nixed because of pushback from staff members who lamented the short notice they were given regarding the proposal. The district instead held classes later into June.

This year, administrators are waiting to see if more bad weather will force schools to close for any additional days before creating make-up day plans, RSU 71 Superintendent Paul Knowles said. At that point, a recommendation regarding how those days will be made up will be presented to board members.

Administrators in neighboring RSU 20, which has canceled six days of school because of inclement weather, are still hashing out plans to will make up missed days. So far, Superintendent Chris Downing said the district will make March 17 an early release day to account for one of the six snow days. Beyond that, he said the district is also considering various class events that could be held to account for other missed days.

He said of particular concern to the district is ensuring its senior class meets for all required days. Currently, graduation is scheduled for June 7.

The districts aren't in the clear yet — a storm that could bring up to a foot of snow is forecast to hit the area Tuesday into Wednesday and could shut down schools again.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Kimberly Ginn | Mar 10, 2017 17:30

Dr. Paul Knowles is the Superintendent of RSU #71 not RSU #3

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