The Ottumwa Courier

Education

February 10, 2014

Schools run short on snow days, adjust schedules

(Continued)

Dana Bethune, a mother of two girls in North Huntingdon, Pa., said her district always seems to be among the last to call off, leaving her scrambling to arrange for a caregiver or work from home. Bethune said her older daughter, a seventh-grader, no longer shares the younger one's bliss because she understands the trade-off: free time to dance and play video games now will cost them part of spring break, plus a holiday or two.

Some older high school students worry snow days could delay graduation, while others lament being cooped up by temperatures so low they rule out even sledding and snowmen.

"I'd rather be having summer time than have snow days," said 11-year-old Emma Fishbein of suburban Philadelphia. She said an ice storm that knocked out power last week made her extra time off even less enjoyable.

"We don't want to go outside because when we get back in, we don't have any power to warm ourselves up," she said.

Her mother, Rachel Ezekiel Fishbein, said the possibility of an extended school year also is making it tricky to register the sixth-grader for a camp that starts in June — even if she has enjoyed the extra time at home with her teenage son, who heads to college in the fall.

In Ohio, so many schools have exceeded their five allowable calamity days that state lawmakers are considering a measure backed by the governor to add more just for this year because of the unusually severe winter weather. Meanwhile, some schools are using "blizzard bag" take-home or online assignments to make up missed classes.

For school administrators, it's a question of balancing students' well-being with educational requirements often tied to funding.

"The safety issue would trump anything else," said Rita Wolff, spokeswoman for Williamsville Central School District in suburban Buffalo, N.Y., which hasn't used all seven snow days built into its calendar.

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