The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

February 19, 2014

More snow days, more school at Danville

DANVILLE — DANVILLE — Snow days and make-up days have been depleted for Danville, meaning any further cancellations may result in days being added beyond the regularly scheduled school year.

“We burned through those a long time ago,” said school board president Allan Schappert.

 “If necessary, the seniors may need to come in after graduation to make up any remaining days … I’m hoping that will not happen, that we’re done with snow days.”

Southern Columbia’s administration office said, like Danville, they exhausted all of their permitted snow days. Three were built into the school calendar, with another four added to the year due to delays.

Shikellamy School District’s administration office said they have called three days off due to snow and still have two remaining.

On Monday, the district was discussing what it could do if Tuesday’s snow resulted in a cancelation. Their only option would have been to make the day up on the Monday after Easter. Tuesday’s weather resulted in only a two-hour delay.

One holiday the school cannot use to recoup lost time is Memorial Day, because the state has mandated it be a day off from school.

Currently, high school graduation remains unaffected by the weather. Schappert is well aware, though, of what pushing back that day could mean for families, many of whom likely have celebrations planned for their children.

“It’s just a nightmare to try and reschedule for family who have relatives coming in from different parts of the country and probably have airline tickets purchased,” he said.

There’s also a question of how much learning would actually be done on those extra days, after the students have already had their graduation ceremony, Schappert said.

By state law, Danville is required to have 180 days of classes. There was recently some question as to whether half-days caused by poor weather counted towards this amount. The district originally thought they did, Schappert said, but they are now awaiting clarification from the state on the matter.

The call to cancel school is only made after Danville administrators consult among themselves, check weather reports and receive input from bus contractors and district maintenance personnel. The concern is always for the safety of the students, Schappert said.

“You make a judgment call based on the best information you have available,” he added.

The snow has also caused delays in sporting events. “Poor Ron Kanaskie (the district athletic director) is pulling what little hair he has left out. It seems like every day we’re rescheduling,” Schappert said. Even though winter sports take place indoors, if the roads are too bad for going to school they are too bad to travel to athletic games as well, he said.

Snow delays also create problems for teachers and principals.

A delayed start puts the students out of rhythm for a normal school day, as some are only in the building for one hour before its time for lunch and recess, said Chris Johns, Liberty Valley Intermediate School principal.

Communicating with parents effectively during cancellations and delays is very easy thanks to district websites, said Danville Primary School principal John Bickhart. Some teachers also have websites set up that allow them to work with students even if they’re home from school, he said.

Johns and Bickhart both joke that snow days are good for one thing, though — getting through paperwork and emails.

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