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Online poll: Scituate schools weigh options if snow keeps falling

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  March 19, 2013 12:29 PM

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Scituate students won’t be going to school in July, but it’s getting pretty close.

The public school system has used eight snow days so far this winter, already beyond the five scheduled into the school year. The extension has extended the last day of school from June 24 to June 27.

The school has one more snow day possibility – on June 28 – before the district runs out of weekday make-up days to get students to the 185-day school schedule.

With spring arriving tomorrow, Scituate school officials are still struggling with the wintry weather.

“If at all possible [we’re trying to avoid snow days],” said Superintendent John McCarthy. “I initially tried to [just do a delay] during the last storm on Friday and it just kept snowing and we had to change to a cancellation. Even today, we were concerned.”

Scituate opted for a two-hour delay Tuesday morning to handle the snow, rather than tacking on yet another snow day.

If spring-like weather doesn't get here quickly, McCarthy said, there a variety of options to making up days.

“Technically you can [do make up days in July], but it runs into problems,” McCarthy said. “The biggest is you’re in a new fiscal year. Your funding is appropriated through June 30 so you’re going to be paying people in July for work done in June; it’s a little tricky. You could do it if you had to, but most people don’t even attempt it.”

Many families, and teachers, also schedule vacations to start the first week in June. So even if the school could find enough substitutes, a lot of the students probably wouldn’t attend.

If another snow day happens within the next few weeks, Scituate could look at scheduling school on Good Friday.

The other option, McCarthy said, is April vacation.

“Not very popular, and also we’d have a large number of staff and student absences, people who have already planned vacations … that’s not a good option. You could look at Saturdays; some people have done that, like a Saturday morning. That’s real popular, as you can imagine,” McCarthy joked.

On Saturdays, as many sports have games scheduled, and some high school students have jobs.

“None of those options are good, so let’s hope we can finish the year. Today was close,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said he has received his fair share of input from concerned parents and teachers, who have one eye to the sky and the other on their calendars.

Already, moving the last day of school back one week has caused some frustration.

“Some kids have already signed up for camps…some parents have already booked vacations. I even have a teacher that booked a vacation that week,” McCarthy said.

To help things, McCarthy said the School Committee approved the change of some early release days (four-hour days), switching them from the previously scheduled April 3 and April 4 to June 25 and June 26.

June 27 has already been scheduled as a half day (2 1/2 hour day).

“[We] made some days in the summer early release so if it's really hot, the kids can get out,” McCarthy said. “We don’t have air conditioning, so it could be very warm in here in an afternoon in June. But by making it early release, generally it won't be very bad.”

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