Schools could face snow day dilemma

    With so many snow days for Delaware schools this year, education leaders have to figure out how to make up the missed class time.

    IMG_4023.JPG (WinCE)When kids aren’t in class, you’ll often find them enjoying the fun that comes with a snow day.

    We found many families spending a snow day this week at a sledding hill at northern New Castle County’s Rockwood Park.

    “It’s a good day to be out with the little ones,” Calvin Petteway, a Brandywine School District parent, said.

    While big snowfalls bring smiles for kids, making the call to cancel class weighs heavily on school superintendents like Mark Holodick.  The Brandywine Schools superintendent made that call again Wednesday afternoon, relaying the message to parents that classes would again be cancelled Thursday.

    “There’s never a perfect answer or a right answer, it’s a judgment call and it’s my responsibility to be as well informed as possible when making that decision,” Mark Holodick, Superintendent of Brandywine Schools, said.

    The Brandywine School District builds in just over six and a half extra days into the school calendar for emergencies like snow days. But Thursday’s school cancellation makes for snow day number 7, pushing students over the cushion in the calendar.

    Holodick says one way to make up for the lost time and meet the minimum number of instructional hours required by the state is to extend the school day.  Another option is to add school days at the end of the school calendar year.  The decision won’t be made until later this school year.

    “I don’t mind going a couple of days into the summer because you have the whole summer then, so I don’t mind these little mini breaks in between and making it up at the end of the year,” Lynne Knotts, Brandywine School District parent, said.

    The Brandywine School District is by no means alone in a possible snow day dilemma.

    Students in the Indian River School District in Sussex County, and Caesar Rodney District in Kent County have both missed several days of school because of the snow.   And these districts don’t build snow days into their calendars.

    But there is a chance some of those days may not have to be made up after all, if some of the days fell during a state of emergency.

    “Sometime in the spring the Secretary of Education could request from the Governor that those days be exempt or pulled back so those districts wouldn’t have to make those days up,” Holodick said.

    That’s a review that usually happens in March.

    For more on this story be sure and watch “First,” Delaware’s TV News Magazine this Friday at 5:30 and 10 p.m. on WHYY TV.

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