Snow days pile up in school calendar
Stubborn winter weather two weeks ago pushed Morgan County's school calendar off track, driving the number of snow days past the four already built in to the academic schedule.
So far this year, local schools have closed six days (seven in Paw Paw) because of bad weather or hazardous road conditions.
Each year, school officials allow for a certain number of closures when they calculate instructional days. But when the weather turns worse than expected, extra snow days just turn into lost instruction days.
In previous years, school systems could extend the school year to make up for those lost days, leaving students in class longer in June.
Now, however, the State Legislature sets the opening and closing dates of the school year.
County school systems only have leeway to adjust holiday school closures to customize their own calendars. That's why Morgan County students went to school part of Thanksgiving week this year, when traditionally local schools closed for all five days.
The Morgan County school board discussed these issues at their February 3 meeting, with school board members questioning how to make up for lost teaching time, and wondering if snow days could be used for teacher training.
Larry Omps asked if teachers could come in to school when students have snow days, and use those paid days for teacher training. Omps said other states operate that way.
Superintendent David Banks said he is researching the idea, but worries about teachers driving in from other areas in questionable weather.
"We could have a plan in place to have those trainings at the last minute," said Banks.
Omps also asked if it would be better to keep schools open and have busses pick up children along major routes that would be cleared of ice and snow.
"Does it hurt you more to have 0% attendance or 70% attendance?" Omps asked.
Board president Laura Smith supported further discussion about a modified bus schedule, as long as parents were included in the decision-making, she said.
"In the case where school is closed, parents are still transporting kids to daycare, so they might be willing to meet the bus," Smith said.
Last Tuesday, Morgan County schools were on a two-hour delay, but Paw Paw School was closed because road conditions there were reported to be icy.
Even if there are more snow days this winter, the last day for Morgan County students is June 8.