Mother Nature has taken her toll on the 2010-11 Washington County school calendar, and that has left officials working hard to make up lost time.
Inclement weather has caused local schools to be closed 12 days this school year, and the school year has been extended until June 2 if no more days are missed.
“We have four banked days because we had excess minutes built into the schedule,” said Chad Willis, director of pupil personnel for the school district.
Willis said students in Kentucky are required to attend classes for 1,062 hours per school year, and to meet those requirements, the calendar is being extended to have classes in session through June 2. As part of that extended calendar, he said classes will be in session on President’s Day, which is Monday, Feb. 21, and also on March 4, which had been scheduled as a professional development day for staff members.
“This is not too bad, but if we didn’t have those banked days, it could be really bad in getting everything made up,” Willis added.
This year’s 12 snow days compares with two years ago, when the ice storm of 2009 caused classes to be closed for 13 days. Willis said this year’s snow days have been so bad because many of them came before Christmas break, and there is still an opportunity for more winter weather and more missed days.
At this time, he said no changes have been made to spring break, which is scheduled for April 4-8. If necessary, he said Memorial Day could be used as a make-up day, but that would only be necessary if more days are missed. He said using spring break would be a last-ditch effort because people make vacation plans, and a school group has also made plans for spring break. The Washington County High School baseball team has scheduled a trip to Florida over spring break, Willis said.
One school that is having to look at spring break for make-up days is St. Dominic. Pam Breunig, principal of the local Catholic school, said Monday that her school does not have banked days like the public school system, so the St. Dominic school board will look at make-up options, including spring break, in the near future.
Willis said the public school system would not rule out adding minutes to the school day if necessary, but he did say Saturday classes would be a concern due to attendance. Washington County schools have an average daily attendance of 95 percent, which is very good according to Willis, but he said attendance for Saturday classes would likely be very low. He added that the last time he was aware of Saturday classes being used as a make-up method was in the late 1980s.
“I think if it’s not bad once February rolls around we’ll be OK. But if we miss nine or 10 days in February, then we’ve got some issues,” he said.