School officials ponder snow-day dilemma

Allotted time exceeded

cutting holidays possible

Carroll County

February 03, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

With more wintry weather in the forecast this week, Carroll County school officials are soliciting ideas for making up lost days.

With February just starting, the county already has one day to make up because they have used more than the four emergency closing days that were built into the 2003-2004 school calendar, said Superintendent Charles I. Ecker.

"There's more snow coming," said Ecker. "We want to get the word out about the various options we have for the make-up days."

Ecker is considering the Presidents Day holiday, Feb. 16, as a possible make-up day.

He will submit a recommendation on making up lost school days when the county school board meets Feb. 11. The county school system must obtain a waiver from the State Department of Education to eliminate an official public school holiday.

Eliminating one or more state holidays is one option, Ecker said. In addition to Presidents Day, three other days on the state calendar could be possible make-up days: April 9 and 12, which are spring vacation days, and Memorial Day, May 31.

He said other options include:

Opening school on other scheduled days off for students - Feb. 17, a professional and conference day, and April 8, part of spring vacation.

Lengthening the school day, which would require approval from State Department of Education officials.

Extending the school year beyond the last scheduled day of June 11, into the week of June 14.

Asking the state board to waive the 180-day school year requirement for students.

Even before winter began, Tropical Storm Isabel closed county schools in September. The state waived one school day, Sept. 19, reducing the school year to 179 days.

Ecker said that school officials are asking for e-mails, letters or faxes to their offices before the Feb. 11 meeting to get ideas and preferences on making up the lost time.

"I just wanted to get feedback in order to make some recommendations to the board," Ecker said.

Last year, there were two make-up days, the Thursday and Friday before Easter, Ecker said. Students were allowed to miss school for religious reasons on Good Friday; about half did miss school that day.

"If we get any more days off, I imagine the board would ask for a waiver of some days. Last year, the board asked for some days" so the school year didn't have to be extended, Ecker said.

This year, he said, "it is a possibility."

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