To make up for the above average amount of snow and missed school this year, the State College Area school board approved a motion at its meeting Monday to add two instructional days in April.
April 16 and 17 were originally scheduled for in-service days for teachers to meet with parents, but because of the snow the district proposed to convert them to regular instructional days instead of adding onto the end of the year. The board voted 8-0 to approve the proposal with board member Laurel Zydney absent.
Board member Dorothea Stahl said it’s especially important for Advanced Placement students to get that additional instructional time before they must take exams in May. She is the mother of an AP student.
“If our goal is really to focus on instruction and academics and success of the students, the best interest of the students is to be in school in April and not wasting time in June,” Stahl said.
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Under the current schedule, the last day for students will be June 11 for students and June 16 for teachers.
The district must stick to 990 instructional hours for secondary students and 900 hours for elementary students, according to state Department of Education requirements.
Assistant Superintendent Mike Hardy said the district would be falling short of those requirements if it didn’t adjust the calendar in some way.
State College has had seven snow days during this school year. It had already accounted for two days during the calendar and three in June, but the numbers were still coming up short without the days in April.
Hardy said he understands some people might have planned those off-days for vacation time, but the district can work with students, who need to make up work, and parents can schedule different meeting times with teachers.
“This is not the absolutely ideal solution, but I think it causes the least negative impact,” he said.
Parent Dave Wagner, of Port Matilda, spoke at the meeting, saying that in the future the district should list days like that as possible make-up snow days.
He had scheduled a trip during that time because he didn’t think there was any possibility that the students would be in school, adding that he thinks it would be more risky to make plans for the end of the school year because people realize those days could be lost.
“For the people who base their travels right when school ends, they’re rolling the dice,” he said.
The motion included a provision to revisit the 2014-2015 calendar to attempt to make sure this isn’t a problem next year. Hardy will come back with a recommendation to possibly amend that calendar.