News

Midstate schools get a handle on weather-related scheduling headaches

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Mar 23, 2015 3:55 AM
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Photo by AP Photo/Mel Evans

(Harrisburg) -- Unless Mother Nature is feeling especially devilish this year, the last snowflakes of the winter may have fallen in central Pennsylvania.

Most school districts appear to have learned a few lessons from last year. Ephrata Area School District in Lancaster County built extra days into the school calendar so it could avoid having to extend the year.

Ephrata students only had two snow days this year.

"I think we were fortunate this year. Weather in central Pennsylvania sometimes takes on a personality of it's own and hits us at the wrong time of day for us to make a call," says Superintendent Brian Troop.

Meanwhile, in Adams County, Shane Hotchkiss, Bermudian Springs School District Superintendent, had to get a bit creative this year.

To maintain a May 29th graduation, he's planning to use a special state provision that allows specialized teacher training to count for instructional days.

"Having the discussion about how we're going to make them up or what our plan is isn't as stressful this year becuase I understand what our options are," says Hotchkiss.

Two hour delays and early dismissals hit double digits this school year in Bermudian Springs, which concerns Hotchkiss.  

"Those are a struggle because there's really no vehicle to make up that lost instructional time," he says.

Hotchkiss says he's also realistic about tacking school days on to June, when students may not be quite as focused as the middle of the year.

Hotchkiss, Troop and other superintendents all say they take snow days seriously, even coordinating with other leaders and furiously checking weather forecasts.

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