Penns Valley

Penns Valley Area School District adds 30 minutes to class time to make up for snow days

The Penns Valley Area school board voted to extend class days starting March 31 by 30 minutes to make up for seven weather-related days off.

The last day of school will be June 6. That is subject to change pending any future days off, said Superintendent Brian Griffith.

“This is the most number of snow days in 10 years,” Griffith said. “It’s been extremely detrimental. It’s a double-trouble situation where you have loss of instructional time and less productive makeup days. We’re looking for the best way to bring the most to our students.”

The additional half-hour days would include an extra seven minutes in the morning and 23 minutes to the end of the school day, Griffith said.

“To keep everything in sync, we’ll start and backup that amount of time,” Griffith said. “We’ve come up with a plan that would likely not be impeded with student-athletes or others’ extracurricular activities.”

Commonwealth regulations require all public school districts to have 180 days of class or 990 hours of education at the secondary school level and 900 hours at the elementary level.

If the school doesn’t meet state requirements, the district would be penalized financially.

A bill proposed by state Sen. Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, allows greater flexibility for schools to make up those snow days.

On Wednesday, the state Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1281 that would allow schools to calculate the school year on an hourly — rather than daily — basis.

A report from Corman said the legislation would also permit schools to hold class on one Saturday per month to make up missed school days.

Faculty, staff and parents of students completed a survey earlier this month with ideas on how to move forward with makeup days.

“Over 70 percent said, ‘Do it all. Let’s get the year done,’ ” Griffith said. “Some have even proposed school on Saturday, so we looked at all the options.”

He said the snow days have also put a damper on standardized test preparation.

The Pennsylvania System of School Assessments measures third- through eighth-grade students. It’s the testing that helps the state determine if students are learning what they should be. It tests students’ math, reading, writing and science skills.

“It’s been a tough year, but we’re already planning for how we’ll run things in the 2014-15 school year,” Griffith said. “We’re all thinking the same thing — how to use maximum instruction and how to benefit the kids.”