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Monday, January 10, 2011

Got snow days?

Well, as I figured, school is in session today. As I write this, I am looking at weather reports saying that it is 28 degrees outside, there is drizzling freezing rain, and there are ice spots all over the major Dallas roads. All traffic camera shots show accidents and wrecks and backups many miles long.

But none of that matters to my district. They don't seem to care that most of their employees have a pretty good drive to get to their school. At least I don't live in Mesquite any more, where I had no choice but to be on a couple of highways for a while. Now my trip uses surface roads that (hopefully) shouldn't have frozen up over night.

What does really surprise me this morning is that the other school districts around mine are not closed. Usually Dallas is the only one that stays open during horrible weather like this. But today, Plano, Ft. Worth (which in the past has seemed to close down if somebody sneezes), Arlington -- they're all open.

My INTERACTIVE MONDAY question today is a simple one -- What are snow days like in YOUR district? Do you get many? What has to happen for you to get one? When are they made up?

Have a good one, and be safe!!


Ricochet said...

We have none - that is what they took away first to balance the budget. So far we have used 2 - we all assume they will add time to every day after something like mid March. That's what they have done in the past.

Tammy Gillmore said...

In north-central Arkansas, we miss school for just about any accumulation of snow due to back-roads and hills, due to road hazards, safety.

This year we have two snow days built into the school is day one!

It is nice to get an extra "holiday" every now and then...

ms.understood said...

For us to have a snow day, hell has to freeze over. I am using hell as a metaphor for the Phoenix heat. We do have heat advisory and high pollution days, but we still have to go to school. The kids just stay inside during recess.

Almost American said...

Here in my corner of the northeast, we have 5 snow days built in to our schedule. We have a calendar that tells when the 180th day of school is, and when the 'last possible day of school' is - which is 5 days after the 180th day in June. A couple of years ago we had used all of our snow days and more before Christmas because of an ice storm! We ended up with 9 that year. Not only did that mean that we had to work until the very end of June, but we lost all but one day of our April vacation too! We could have opened school a couple of days sooner than we did by rerouting some of the buses and having kids walk to the end of their roads, but there were so many phone lines down that the district couldn't contact all the families to let them know - so we stayed closed!

The state could have declared an emergency and allowed us not to make the days up in that case, but they didn't. If we had used even one more snow day, the only option we had left was to hold school on a Saturday! (The state requires us to complete the 180 days before the end of June.) Of course, the chances of students turning up on a Saturday were pretty slim, and many staff have obligations, not to mention other jobs, on Saturdays . . . The teacher's aides hate snow days because, as hourly employees, they don't get paid, AND it cuts into the days in the summer when they can be working at another job.

My district is known for closing at the drop of a hat. The kids got sent home 2 hours early last Friday, and staff were allowed to leave an hour later, but it didn't end up snowing in the town where I live (2 towns over) until early evening. Apparently by the time some of the staff got home to the hilltowns in the district by early afternoon though the roads were already very slippery, so the early dismissal was justified.

Looking forward to a snow day this Wednesday . . .

Mrs. Bluebird said...

We get three snow days (and today we used our last one). After that we lose holidays (MLK, Presidents Day, etc.) and if we still have time to make up, starting in March, a month before the Very Big Deal Government Mandated Testing, we add 30 minutes to the day. Last year we had 7 snow days and had to do the 30 minutes thing. No one wants to go down that road again. We did lose 5 days for flooding but the State waived those (thank goodness).

Because we bus in so many kids from rural parts of the county, and because we live in a fairly hilly region, our big problem is ice and hilly twisty roads. It doesn't take much for them to call a snow day around here.

TeacherFromTN said...

We have 8 days built in by adding 30 minutes to the school day, and we have used 6 as of tomorrow. I'm in a large county in East Tennessee, so there are mountains and valleys that turn into a mess pretty quickly, but we haven't used this many snow days in over ten years! There are some school systems just a county away that were out the week before Christmas break, and have only been back a day or two since--going on nearly FOUR WEEKS out of school! My biggest complaint is our super waits until the last minute to make a decision. I received a text at 4:40 this morning to alert me school was out! Then, the phone starts ringing at 6:20 with the recorded message for parents--so much for sleeping in on a snow day! He did decide by 5:00 this afternoon that we were out tomorrow, so the kids can stay up late tonight! It is a little worrisome that we aren't even to mid-January and we only have two days left. My kids, though, are thrilled!

elysabeth said...

We have a couple or so built into our calendar - either at the end of the school year or where there are long weekends for teacher inservice - so far we are on our second snow day here (South Carolina - upper state). I went out to the grocery store this morning and unless we see some above 80 degree temps today and no freezing weather tonight, I have a feeling they will close tomorrow as well since the roads are not clear. I took a huge risk just to get my kids some milk but it was necessary. I slid a few times - braking on a hill or on a less traveled road. We had sleet on top of the snow yesterday so that makes it even worse since the roads are really icy.

I'm sure my kids are glad they don't have school but they know they will have to make them up somewhere down the line - hopefully more districts will build these into the calendars - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state, mystery, trivia series

Where will the adventure take you next?

Mister Teacher said...

Wow, quite a variation throughout the country! We do have 2 built in to our schedule, though we rarely ever use them. The first is Good Friday, right before Easter. The second is directly after the last day of school in June.

Almost American, your situation sounds the most dire, especially if they ever FORCED mandatory Saturday school on you!

Anonymous said...

As Ms. Understood said, for us to get a snow day he-- has to freeze over . The same is true for NYC schools. We will find out tomorrow morning(5:00 am) if our new "Un-education Chancellor"-
Publisher Black will close the schools. (Our only hope is that during the last snow storm Bloomberg and cronies left us literally in the snow for days and they don't want to repeat mistake) Keeping my fingers crossed(would hold my breath, but don't want to pass out) that schools will be closed!

TeacherFromTN said...

One more thing. We used to do the Saturday make-up days. The rule was, if we missed a day during the week, but were able to come on Friday, we would also come on Saturday. It was AWFUL. That lasted a couple of years, then we added 15 minutes to the beginning and 15 minutes to the end of each day to give us the "built in" days. My only beef with this plan is that for years, we didn't even need one snow day, so I felt like they owed me those 8 extra days back!!

Almost American said...

@ TeacherfromTN: I'm sure our union would have something to say about being told to work an extra 30 minutes/day 'just in case' we needed the time because of snow days. I think it would have been a better alternative in our case than having to go in on a Saturday to make up a snow day though. Fortunately in the 4 years I've been here, we've never actually had to do that - in fact one year we had NO snow days at all, which veterans said was a first! Veterans in the district never plan to travel during April vacation though because we can end up losing it.

Come to think of it, a couple of years ago one elementary in the district was closed for a day because of a water main problem, and rather than finish after everyone else they started school early every day for a few days to make up the missed time.

Anonymous said...

Our school builds in six days as teacher workdays and two days at Easter. That's a total of eight. So far this year, we have missed 30 days, including five straight weeks (two Christmas break) from December 6 until January 10. Then we missed at least two days a week and had two hour delays the other days of the week.
We miss so much school it is not even funny. We missed 32 days last year, and our school year ran from August 10 to June 4. This year, we are going from August 9 to June 10.
And we are the lowest paid county in our state. No raise or step increases in three years.
But I guess that's a comment for another day.