Schools run short on snow days, discuss schedule changes

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Most students and teachers in Region 8 were back in school Monday, but the snow day tally has gone up.

Many schools have now missed more school days this year than the ice storm in 2009.

"It feels great to be back in school," Paragould Schools superintendent Debbie Smith said. "We are here and very pleased to have the kids back. And I know the staff members are glad to be back as well."

The Paragould School District has missed 11 school days, and now that everyone is back, Smith said the big question is how do they make these days up.

"None of our options are perfect for anyone, but we don't have an option," Smith said. "Something will have to be done to make up the days."

To make up these 11 days, the district will use its five state-required built-in snow days, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President's Day, Good Friday, and May 29 and 30.

But that still leaves six days to make up.

"Use any or all of Spring Break, we can use Saturdays, we can continue to add on to the school year, we could use Memorial Day, or we could use any combination of those options," Smith said.

Smith said none of these options are ideal.

"Saturday school is not fun. A six day school week is not something that students like, parents don't like it," Smith said. "Spring Break is very difficult. There are students in this district and staff members in this district who have had Spring Break plans for about a year."

Smith said if the district chooses to extend summer, schools will be in session until June 9.

"Which is gonna give us a short summer, but we're in the same boat as many other districts in the area," Smith said.

Smith said the bigger issue at hand is students being behind for the upcoming state assessments.

"Students not being in school is lost instruction time," Smith said. "That's valuable time that you can't gain back. The state assessments are not moved. Those dates are set. They are not changed."

Smith said she hopes Mother Nature cooperates so they can catch up in time for test time.

"It will be a crunch time, but it will be for everyone in the state," Smith said.

Smith said Paragould School District committees are discussing the options now. Their decision will be put up to a vote for the school board and then all staff members.

According to the Arkansas Department of Education, schools must offer 178 instructional days of six hours of instructional time each year.

Schools, like Paragould, that miss more than ten days can submit a waiver request for the additional days. Before submitting a waiver, they have to try to make up as many days as possible.

Schools must send waivers to the ADE commissioner by Feb. 28.

For more information, visit the ADE website.

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All rights reserved.