WINTER 2014: Schools calendar still fluid

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Snow days push end of the year to May 30…for now

By Todd Martin

As of Tuesday afternoon, Shelby County Public Schools had added more than a week to the end of its school calendar because of weather cancellations, pushing the last day for students back to May 30, from May 21.

“The days we’re adding now are just going on to the end of the school year,” said Dave Weedman, the director of student services for SCPS. “We didn’t really build any days into the calendar, but we built it so we would get out very early if we didn’t have any school days.”

That’s exactly what happened last year when the last day for students was May 22 after a very mild winter. In 2012, students got out June 4 because of a few snow days.

With eight days already missed this year – and more predicted bad weather coming in the next couple weeks – the district has y added Feb. 17 and 18 as school days. The days were supposed to be off days for students for President’s Day and a professional development day for teachers. And graduation will have to be pushed back into the first week of June.

“The board [of education] has already approved those days, but the rest of the days, if there are any more, will just be added to the end of the calendar,” Weedman said.

Because it’s not unusual for students to be in school through the first week of June, Weedman said he doesn’t foresee any drastic changes, such as taking days from spring break or going to school on Saturdays.

“We would have to miss a lot of days before we’d take any days from spring break,” he said. “So many people, including our staff, make plans a year or six months in advance for that week, that it would have to be pretty severe to take those days.

“And Saturdays, I just don’t see that happening. I go back to blizzards in the seventies [working in Oldham County], and I remember some districts doing that, and they all swore they would never do it again. The burnout for students and staff of going six days a week is a lot to handle. I think that’s the worst part of it.”

Because the district built in so much cushion, Weedman said adding on to the end of the year likely would be the status quo.

“I don’t want to say never on anything, but I just don’t see any of that [spring break or Saturdays] happening. I just don’t see those as part of the solution,” he said. “We’d have to miss so many more days before that would happen. And if it got that bad, I know a few years ago the state made a waiver for schools to go less than the 177 days. We didn’t have to do that here, but there were some other areas that were hit much worse than we were.”

But more weather this week – including a predicted half of an inch of ice for today – could lead to more days off.

“I still hate to think what kind of weather we’d have to see to start taking spring break away,” Weedman said.