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Editorial: Minor adjustments right approach for snow days

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This past winter was one for the record books, and local school districts were forced to scramble to meet the state rules for class days.

But most local administrators and school board members have been around long enough to know that the recent horrendous weather is unlikely to be repeated on a regular basis that there have been years when there was barely enough snow for sledding, let alone to warrant closing school. So Johnson County districts were wise not to overreact when crafting next year’s academic schedules.

However, school districts need to be prepared for snow, so that students make up lost time with entire days, rather than this year’s makeshift makeup schedule of a half-hour or so added to several days. No matter how that time is spent, it will never be as effective as an entire day spent in organized study.

This school year, Greenwood schools had four snow days built into its calendar, and Franklin had five. Those were days students were set to have off school but would be kept in classes if other days were canceled because of severe weather. Next school year, Greenwood will have at least five snow days built into the calendar, and Franklin has made seven snow days a part of the schedule.

Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson had two snow days scheduled earlier this school year in January and February and plans to add other days missed to the end of the school year. The school district already has snow days built into next school year’s schedule for December, January and February, and the school board is considering adding two snow days in April at the end of spring break.

Local school districts canceled school from five to seven times this winter because of severe snow and bitter cold, and students missed the equivalent of seven to 10 days because of late starts.

The Indiana Department of Education waived two of the days school districts canceled because of weather, meaning students didn’t need to make them up.

However, some school districts didn’t have enough snow days built into their calendars and had to change their schedules to make sure students had enough time to make up all the days they’d missed. Center Grove and Clark-Pleasant schools both extended the school day for students by between 20 and 40 minutes. Next school year, Center Grove will have two snow days built into the calendar, just as it did this school year.

Clark-Pleasant has one snow day built into next year’s calendar. After that, any days missed will be made up at the end of the school year.

It would have been easy to panic over lost days due to weather, but local districts showed wise restraint. They have increased their scheduling flexibility without drastically overhauling the academic calendar.

If we have a normal winter next year, then we can all relax a little, and the kids will get an extra holiday or two.

But if there are again an unprecedented number of lost days, let’s hope the time is made up one day at a time, rather than 30 minutes at a time.

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