Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 20, 2010

Snow days pose challenge

School officials struggle to make up for lost instructional time

PRINCETON — After missing 21 days of school so far this winter, school officials in Mercer County are looking for ways to recover lost instructional time.

“The superintendent is in conversation with the principals and the board of education members to look at ways we can maximize the instructional time that remains,” Kellen Sarles, a media information specialist for the Mercer County Board of Education, said. “We expect there will be additional changes to help make up for this time.”

School officials have already scheduled four Out of School Environment days slated for March 5 and 19 and May 10 and 28 as regular school days to help make up for lost instructional time. However, there are no remaining OES days left to schedule as regular school days.

Sarles said the issue could be discussed at Tuesday’s regular board of education meeting.

Students were out of school most of last week with the exception of Friday when a two-hour delay was implemented by the school system. Sarles said 21 days of missed school isn’t a new record for Mercer County, but it may have tied a previous record.

“I remember back in 1977 — I think that was the year or maybe it was either 77 or 78 — we missed 21 days,” Sarles said. “So if memory serves me correctly we’ve tied it up.”

Sarles said the relentless winter — up until this weekend’s long-awaited warming trend — has been challenging for the school system.

“We are very concerned about it,” Sarles said. “We are working within the constraints of making decisions that are in the best interest of safety, but at the same time, we know we need to meet our instructional time.”

Sarles said the weather also continues to impact special school events.

Sarles said the annual Mercer County Social Studies Fair, originally set for this weekend, has been postponed until Monday, March 1, at the Mercer Mall.

Students may set up their projects beginning Sunday evening, Feb. 28, after 6 p.m., according to a board of education press release.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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