Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 11, 2013

Area school systems sorting out days missed due to snow

PRINCETON — Though the region may be warming up, local school systems are still dealing with the loss of instructional time this winter due to inclement weather.

Kellan Sarles, a public information specialist with Mercer County Schools, said the school system went over the eight days they had scheduled in the event of snowy weather this year.

“We have had 11 full snow days,” she said. “We have eight budgeted for this year. We have used up all that we had budgeted. All of the potential days we can take for snow days have been used or converted at this point. The only exception is the instructional support days, and we have two of those days left. They will not be converted.”

Sarles said eight snow days are the maximum allowed to school systems under West Virginia law.

“We see the loss of instructional days quite often and a lot more than we have to,” she said. “We are one of the counties where it is mandated we have eight days since we are in the mountains and at higher risk at losing days of school due to snow. Statewide, eight days is the required maximum.”

However, Sarles said school calendars and how many snow days schools are allowed to set aside are one topic the state Legislature is currently discussing as part of their overhaul of the state education system.

“At this point, those days we did not have budgeted will not be made up unless the Legislature makes changes in the school calendar,” Sarles said. “Those changes will have to take effect in August of the new year.”

 Meanwhile, students in Tazewell County could see an additional two weeks of school before starting their summer break. Tazewell County Schools Assistant Superintendent Christine Kinser said county students have missed 12 days of school due to inclement weather this year.

“Thursday was the 12th day we had missed,” Kinser said. “Ours are added at the end of the year. We count days but we also count clock hours in Virginia. We have to track the days and the number of hours out of class. Usually once you are out of March you know how many days you have to make up and how to make them up.”

Kinser said Virginia schools are allowed to make up snow days by two means.

“We have added on days and we have added hours on to the school day,” Kinser said. “One year we just added on 35 minutes to the end of the day for a month. For right now, we will probably just add on some extra days at the end of the year.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com

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