Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

March 14, 2013

Piling of snow days leaves schools looking for answer

Must figure out when to make up days if weather forces more closures

By Dustin Luca
Staff Writer

---- — School leaders need to figure out when Andover High School students will be able to make up a snow day.

Students are supposed to attend 180 school days each year. The school calendar usually builds in five possible snow days.

All of the elementary and middle schools in town have used all five snow days at this point. But a gas leak that closed Andover High for another day means high-schoolers have already lost six days. To figure out when to hold that day, the schools quickly scheduled a School Committee meeting for yesterday, March 13, after Townsman print deadline.

Last Friday’s storm placed the final day of school at the town’s nine elementary and middle schools for Friday, June 28, according to Dee DeLorenzo, school department executive assistant. Another snow day would place those schools in the same position Andover High is now.

The next weekday after June 28 falls in July, after the end of the academic year and outside of the definition of a school year in the teachers union contract.

Holding school after June 30 isn’t possible, according to School Committee Chairwoman Paula Colby-Clements. She wasn’t sure what options existed for the school as of Tuesday, but a 7 p.m. meeting was scheduled for yesterday, Wednesday, to identify and go over the options.

“Any adjustments to the calendar and what we do is still in the discussion phase,” assistant Superintendent Nancy Duclos said. “All of that needs to be presented to the School Committee.”

Officials didn’t want to speculate on what the options could look like. Retired Superintendent Ken Seifert offered a few suggestions, but said “there really are no silver bullets to handle this thing.”

“You could have the Saturday [school day]. You could add extra hours to the day,” he said.

The following days off also are planned: March 29, Good Friday; April 15, Patriots’ Day; April 16-19, spring recess; and May 27, Memorial Day. Early release days are also scheduled for today, March 14, along with April 30 and June 5.

Using holidays could prove to be risky, however, especially if they’re a federal holiday, according to Seifert.

“If it’s a national holiday, you can’t denegrate the holiday by saying, ‘We’re going to go to school,’” he said. “That would be one thing you couldn’t do... At least we wouldn’t entertain that.”

Follow @AndoverTownsman on Twitter for updates on what transpires at the meeting.