Like most districts in the state of Delaware, the Smyrna School District is in the midst of determining how to deal with making up snow days. The Smyrna Board of Education addressed the issue Wednesday night in a meeting at Clayton Intermediate School.
The proposed revised 2013/2014 calendar was presented to the school board Wednesday by Curriculum Director Dr. Sandy Shalk. Initially Shalk proposed adding four days to the end of the school year; however, through discussion with the school board it was decided that the district would use two inservice days as school days and wait to determine further days to make up.
Students will attend school on March 28 and May 2, both of which were originally scheduled as in-service days. The district will wait and see if more school is lost from weather conditions and whether or not some days are forgiven, before making further decisions regarding make up days. There’s a chance Gov. Jack Markell could forgive a couple of snow days due to State of Emergencies that were declared.
“We’ve missed seven days and had some delays,” Shalk said. “We have some concern with the number of instructional hours the students are missing.”
Shalk said one argument against make up days is the fact the district has banked some hours. The district has a longer school day than most other districts.
“The argument would be that we have hours banked, why isn’t that enough? It’s just that it’s important that we’re clear that the instructional time is so critical for us,” Shalk said. “Seven days is a lot of time lost.”
He said the Appoquinimink School District has added minutes to each school day while the Capital, CR, and Lake Forest school districts have added days to the end of the school year.
The district has lost 55 hours from snow days; adding four days back would give the district 26 hours of instructional time back.
Rather than have the school year extended, school board member Kristi Lloyd suggested consolidating half days at the end of the year or using inservice days. Board member Ron Eby echoed her sentiments.
“Do we need to make a decision now?” he asked. “Why don’t we use the two in-service days and wait to make a decision regarding the end of the year.”
Ultimately the board voted to use the two inservice days as students days, and to wait and see how the rest of the school year pans out.
Making up time for the teachers won’t be as easy though. Shalk explained while students have to be in school for a certain number of hours, teachers are required to work a certain number of days. Therefore, teachers will have to work extra days at the end of the school year. Shalk said these extra days can be used for professional development.
As far as the number of snow days, Lloyd said earlier in the meeting that she agreed with decisions made by Superintendent Debbie Wicks to close school when it snowed.
“I think you made the right call every single time you had to make the call,” Lloyd said. “It’s a hard decision to make and you do take into consideration the kids. I appreciate it.”