The rising weekend temperatures are expected to melt the snow and ice away so schools can reopen Monday, but that still leaves Triangle school officials trying to make up for the four school days lost this week.
This week’s snow days burned through the remaining preplanned makeup days for several Triangle school systems and left Wake County debating the value of extending the end of the school year.
Plans were further complicated Friday when the still-icy secondary roads caused Wake County’s year-round schools and Orange County’s traditional-calendar schools to reschedule Saturday’s makeup day to Feb. 28.
School districts are weighing the various options they have to comply with a state law that requires students to receive 185 days or 1,025 hours of instruction each school year. Most districts follow the time requirement, which means they don’t have to make up each day lost to weather.
“There’s no perfect mix,” said Tim Simmons, a Wake County schools spokesman. “No matter what options you pick, there are advantages and disadvantages.”
• Changing teacher workdays to school days.
• Canceling early release days so they become normal days.
• Banking in the extra time that schools have over the 1,025 hours.
• Extending the end of the school year.
• Holding classes on Saturdays.
• Cutting into spring break and other vacation days and holidays.
Orange County responded quickly on Friday by both rescheduling this Saturday’s makeup day and announcing all the days that would be used to replace this week’s snow days.
Orange County’s traditional-calendar students will have classes on the next two Saturdays. County school officials, while acknowledging Saturday classes could be inconvenient for families, said the move is aimed at preserving the district’s week-long spring break starting March 30.
Johnston County school leaders also quickly responded Friday by dropping planned makeup days during April’s spring break. The district will now use a combination of changing work days, cutting early release days and banking their extra time.
The spring break concern is shared by some Wake County traditional-calendar parents who are upset that the district plans to make up Tuesday’s snow day on the first day of spring break March 23.
Simmons said Wake school administrators will meet Monday to determine what to do about the snow days from Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. He said they’ll announce next week what Wake will do.
In Durham, where traditional-calendar students now face having classes on Memorial Day, school administrators will present recommendations at Thursday’s school board meeting.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools spokesman Jeff Nash said it could take some time for the school board to approve a schedule for the remaining makeup days.
Simmons, the Wake spokesman, said that the ability to deal with snow days is complicated by the state’s calendar law, which regulates the dates when schools can begin and end. The law, which is backed by the tourism industry, requires that all public schools be out by Friday, June 12.
“If you could guarantee there would never be days off it wouldn’t be a problem,” Simmons said. “But there are constraints when you put a limit on when school can start and end.”
Staff writer Tammy Grubb contributed to this report.