Six outstanding snow days place schools in limbo

(March 13, 2015) Blame it on February and early March, but the Worcester County School system must make up six weather-related closings this year to meet the 180 days of instruction that the state requires of all public schools.

With this year’s school calendar setting aside three days for bad weather, Worcester has come up a little more than a week short, courtesy of the nine days that weather kept schools from opening.

“There are a few ways these days can be made up, but no decisions have been made at this time,” said Coordinator of Public Relations and Special Programs Barbara Witherow.

She said certain days in the current calendar year could be modified, including a scheduled professional day set for April 2. The superintendent may make April 2 a half-day for students, which will make up one of the six lost to winter weather.

In addition, the school may choose to add days onto the end of the school year or they can seek a waiver from the state for days when a Snow Emergency Plan was issued by the State Highway Administration and the Maryland State Police, which limits vehicles on the roads.

“Four school closings were impacted by Snow Emergency Plans this year,” Witherow said.

Before February blanketed Worcester County with snow and single-digit temperatures, this winter did not seem as bad then last. On that note, school closings have stayed consistent with 10 due to inclement weather last year.

Last year, two days were made up by modifying the calendar and the state approved a waiver for four additional closings, which left one day. It was added to the end of the school year, making the last day of school June 13.

“There has been a change in weather the last couple of years with storms coming later in the year,” said Worcester County School Board President Bob Rothermel. “We have three days set aside for the upcoming year, which may need to be considered in the future if it happens again.”

At the budget meeting on March 17, the calendar will be reviewed and they will be looking for options to recoup the days.

“It is premature to talk about a plan, but all options will be discussed [at the board meeting] and a determination will be made after we see what the state will authorize,” Rothermel said. “When closures happen in February and March, there are less options on how to make up the days.”

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