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'Snow' doubt about it: Missed days to delay end of school year

February 02, 2011
There's nothing quite like being a kid and waking up to learn that it has snowed overnight and school has been canceled. However, since the Indiana Department of Education no longer grants waivers for missed days, one day's excitement will be another day's disappointment. So, while Mother Nature has been extremely kind to students throughout Southern Indiana this winter, she's only postponed the inevitable.

Having missed nine days of school so far because of snow and ice, Crawford County Community School Corp. students will have class on April 8 and 29 and May 6, days they previously were scheduled to be off.

Illustration By Nicole Melton
"Right now, we have three built-in days," Superintendent Dr. Mark Eastridge said. "We're going to capture those."

School currently is to be out of session on Good Friday, April 22, but Eastridge said he will ask the school board to vote to use that as a make-up day. That would leave five days to be made up, if no more school is missed.

The last day of classes is supposed to be Friday, May 20, and, although graduation has not been scheduled, it traditionally is on the Friday night before Memorial Day, which, this year, is May 27. Assuming no more days are missed, the five remaining days could be made up May 23 through 27, with graduation still taking play on its traditional Friday. However, anymore missed days and school might have to be extended into June.

"So, we're hoping not," Eastridge said.

Leavenworth Elementary School Principal Mike Key, who serves as the corporation's transportation director, said he personally drives the roads early, at about 4:30, when there is inclement weather to determine their condition. He begins at Leavenworth, heads west on Interstate 64 to Exit 79, goes north on S.R. 37 to Eckerty, makes his way east on S.R. 64 to English, then takes back roads to Marengo and back to Leavenworth, before heading south to Alton.

Key said it is important to drive the entire county since one area may be worse than another. That was the case a few weeks ago, he said, explaining that the roads on the east end of the county were in good enough shape, but those on the west end, which had more snow, were bad enough that school had to be called off.

"I err on the side of safety," he said. "If we're hauling produce, it'd be real easy, but we're not hauling produce."

Key added that he also consults with the county commissioners as well as neighboring school corporations, which tend to springboard off of each other.

One of those neighboring corporations, North Harrison, has called off classes eight times, just one less than Crawford County. Superintendent John Roeder said it, too, has some leeway in its calendar, having built-in five possible make-up days. It already has used one — Jan. 17 — and plans to use the others, Feb. 21 (Presidents Day), April 22 (Good Friday) and May 6 and 26.

The last day of school for students was supposed to be May 25, but that has been pushed back by at least a week, Roeder said.

"We would be adding May 27, May 31 and June 1 as student make-up days to get the total of eight to offset our eight canceled snow days," he said.

Roeder said closing school or calling for a two-hour delay or early release is a difficult decision, and although it can be disruptive to a family's schedule, "the safety of our students and staff must be our top priority."

"At North Harrison, the transportation director and superintendent are out early checking the condition of as many roads and hills as possible before making a school closure or delay decision," he said. "The three county superintendents stay in communication on questionable days, and the transportation directors of the area school corporations also discuss road conditions."

In addition to the missed days, Crawford County and North Harrison have operated on a two-hour delay several times this school year. That time, however, does not have to be made up.

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