Nearly 40 inches of snow dropped on the Smyrna-Clayton communities this winter causing disruptions for towns, the state and school districts. The amount of snow caused town’s to go over budget and for school districts to cancel school several days. While town officials and school district administrators are still reeling in the effects of this year’s snow storms, the amount of snow received this year won’t necessarily change how plans are made for the future.
An education disrupted
Students and teachers in the Smyrna School District missed a total of 10 school days this year. In February, the Smyrna Board of Education approved the use of two inservice days – March 28 and May 2 – as pupil days to add 13 hours back into the school year.
State law requires students in districts and charter schools to receive the minimum number of hours required: 1,060 hours for kindergarten through 11th grade and 1,032 for seniors.
The Smyrna School District entered the school year with 75 hours of banked time; therefore, when the district missed 74.5 hours of educational time due to the weather it wasn’t completely necessary the district add time back into the school year calendar.
Once the state forgave five schools day the Smyrna School District decided against adding more days to the end of the school year.
“The calendar had time built in with extra hours, but this has still been an extreme winter this year that has impacted everything,” said Curriculum Director Dr. Sandy Shalk. “We didn’t have quite the year we hoped we would. We hope we don’t see this type of year in quite some time.”
Shalk said because of the hours banked, the district doesn’t necessarily have to reconsider how the calendar is done.
“The calendar is constructed in a way that takes into account the weather,” Shalk said.
Providence Creek Academy was closed for 12 days this school year due to the weather; however it is unknown at this time how much school will need to be made up.
Principal Audrey Erschen said the school board hadn’t approved the request for days forgiven before the state BOE made its decision regarding forgiving snow days.
“They’ve sent it and we have to wait for the April BOE meeting for a response,” Erschen said. “We will wait to make a decision [on snow days] until the state BOE makes a decision.”
She’s six of the 12 days will be forgiven. The school board previously made the decision to add 15 minutes to each school day. Erschen said this time will give the school back three days missed from inclement weather. The school already had three days built into the calendar; therefore, if the district forgives the six requested days, Erschen said three days will be left to be made up.
“The original last day was June 11. If the six days are forgiven, the last day will be June 16 for students and June 17 for teachers.”
Planning for the future
Even though the towns of Clayton and Smyrna spent a great deal of money on snow removal this year, doesn’t mean the towns will budget any differently in the future.
Clayton Town Foreman Jeff Hurlock said in past years, overtime was budgeted at $45,000 but this was reduced to $35,000. He said the town may look at increasing the overtime budget. He said the town may increase the snow removal budget because if there had been a blizzard, contractors would’ve had to of been hired.
“A lot of our snow removal really is just that. That number is there to hire out help,” Hurlock said.
Looking at long-term plans, Hurlock said a new truck may be needed because putting trucks on the road to plow is hard on the truck.
“These trucks are not made to plow streets, especially small pickup trucks,” Hurlock said. “One of our dump trucks has a crack that we repaired. Eventually we either need to take it out of the snow removal fleet or replace it altogether, which it is nowhere near the end of its lifespan.”
Smyrna Town Manager Dave Hugg said the town probably won’t do the budget process any differently.
“We budget what we believe it to be,” Hugg said. “The number one reason to try and not have a kneejerk reaction is because the last several years we had a mild winter.”
Hugg said if the town budgeted $3,000 it doesn’t mean the following year less than $3,000 is budget. On the same note, if the town budgeted $5,000 and spent $7,000, it doesn’t mean the town would budget more the following year.
“Because of the variables we’ve had a couple years we had no snow, we had a couple of years we had minimal snow and a couple of years we were hit hard,” Hugg said.